A loft conversion is a major investment of time and money, so you need to be sure it’s worth it for you! One of the best ways to weigh up whether a conversion’s going to be worth it is to consider all the benefits, alongside any specific worries which could apply to your situation.
Going up: the benefits
As many UK properties with loft conversions can demonstrate, there are plenty of ways that extending into the loft can benefit your property – and your lifestyle:
Avoid moving mayhem – moving house can be a major hassle and if your current home offers you access to aspects of life you value, such as good schools and an easy commute, but just feels a little too cramped for the needs of your growing family, or you want to change the accommodation with something that works better for you, then a loft conversion can be the answer – by helping you avoid these moving home headaches:
- Additional space – from extra accommodation for living, to room for creativity and hobbies, additional space is often the most desired benefit of a loft conversion – and there are many ways you might use it:
- Many of us are now working from home and home offices are increasingly popular.
- Creative and entertainment pursuits are also increasingly taking place in our homes, with home gyms, cinemas, craft and hobby rooms.
- The number of young adults still living at home is at a record high here in the UK (The Independent) so creating a dedicated space for them can be helpful for everyone!
- Storage space is a common issue too. Contemporary loft conversions cleverly incorporate storage, so you don’t have to compromise space to store for space to live. Customised fittings and furnishings can deliver plenty of practical storage options and solutions, giving you a loft conversion which balances all your needs – whatever the room’s overall purpose.
- Value-added – Nationwide suggest loft conversions may increase property values by around 22%, whilst Abbey Lofts found this could be 24.5% in London, where additional square footage offers premium value. This applies to both:
- Inside space, when using the loft for spacious accommodation instead of attic storage;
- Outside space, where creating roof terraces as part of the conversion can particularly bring additional value to city properties.
- Costs – it can cost a lot to move, especially considering stamp duty in areas like London, where property with a larger square footage is more expensive. The variable costs of a house move can also be a problem, for instance when a sale or purchase falls through and you have to start again, compared to the more fixed cost of a loft conversion.
If the choice of moving or converting your loft is your main dilemma, you might like to check out one of our other articles about moving costs in London.
- Time – selling up and moving out is time-consuming, especially when you factor in all the variables associated with finding a buyer and deciding on a new property – plus the horrendous chains involved in some property moves. By contrast, once your loft conversion plans are underway your loft specialist will give you a clear timescale for the construction and completion of your loft (which can be as little as weeks), removing many of the “how long until” and “when” worries of moving home.
- Inconvenience – that time factor goes hand-in-hand with the inconvenience of having to keep the property ‘viewings-ready’, managing the viewings, organising relevant professionals, such as estate agents, solicitors, surveyors, and financiers: trying to sell your home may not just take time, it could also take up all your free time. Contrast this with the minimal inconvenience of a couple of site visits from your loft specialist, and a level of short-term inconvenience whilst the loft conversion is carried out. Depending on the loft design you choose, a loft conversion could be far less inconvenient than moving house!
Energy efficiency – a ‘hidden’ benefit of a loft conversion is that converting your loft brings an opportunity to improve your home’s energy efficiency at the same time. From improving thermal efficiency in a previously ‘cold-spot’ roof through the specialist insulation in a new loft room, to upgrading an inefficient plumbing system, converting your loft can improve your home’s energy efficiency in ways which suit most budgets.
Loft conversions: common worries
Of course, because it’s such a big step there are some common worries to consider when deciding whether a conversion will be worth it for you …
It’s essential to take into consideration how long a loft conversion takes and how much it may interfere with everyday life in your home. Basic loft conversions, for example standard dormer or roof light conversions, can take place with minimum disruption whilst you’re living in the property.
As much work as possible (around 80%) takes place working off scaffolding, with your team working from the outside in and it’s not until the new room is knocked through and the staircase is installed that the construction work impacts on the main part of the house. However this phase of work is usually short and, if you’re using a reputable company, will always be carried out in full collaboration with your lifestyle and needs.
For more complex conversions, such as lowering the ceilings to the floor below, or designs which involve a new roof, then moving out temporarily can make practical sense, to help minimise inconvenience for you. With work schedules from as little as 2 – 6 weeks and 8 – 12 weeks, disruption with a loft conversion can be far less than disruption than a house move.
If this is a particular area of discussion or consideration for you, it may help to take a look at how long does it take to convert a loft.
All lofts and budgets are different, but going into 2018, average costs of loft conversions tend to be from around £20,000 to £55,000 – and upwards, depending on specification and finish.
For a while now some types of loft conversions have been allowed permitted development rights, which means that as long as the conversion meets certain criteria and is carried out in accordance with local authority building regulations, then an application for planning permission may not be required. If the property is a listed building or in a conservation area it will be needed but can be easily managed by your architecture or loft specialist. And speaking of planning …
Concern about neighbour issues often arise with terraced or semi-detached properties or conversions as part of a flat. These often arise due to ‘party’ areas, such as walls, where you and your neighbour each ‘share’ a side. Loft conversions in flat always involve neighbours, so planning permission will always be required.
However, it’s important to know that not all types of loft conversion will involve party agreements, so you may not need to involve your neighbour at all in your conversion, unless you want to share the idea (and even the cost of scaffolding for example, if you both decide to convert at the same time). A loft specialist will be able to explain if and how the process applies for your potential loft conversion, and even manage the planning side of neighbouring properties as part of the package.
Finally, comes that ultimate decision-making question – is my loft suitable?
In fact, most roof spaces are suitable for a loft conversion of one design or another, subject to factors such as head height, roof pitch, stair access and the need to remove existing fixtures such as water tanks and add new items such as skylights. Other variables include issues such as living in a conservation area or in a listed building, but even then, it doesn’t mean a loft conversion isn’t possible.
A reputable loft conversion specialist should offer a free, no obligation site visit, such as the Abbey Lofts Feasibility Study, which should quickly be able to tell you if it’s worth having your loft converted. Please see our FAQ page, for more details or contact us.