Both the ONS and The Independent* recently reported there are more young adults aged between 20 and 34 still living at home with their parents than at any time since 1996: now 3.3 million across the UK, compared to 2.7 million back then.
Almost half of this age group also go on to higher education each year (The Guardian) and a large proportion – around 50% of all UK university students – are amongst those still living at home even whilst they study: with the cost of tuition fees and steeply rising accommodation costs being cited as main reasons for the rise of “the commuter student.”
This escalating situation is widely reported as negatively affecting students’ studies and the home life of all concerned: although studying based at home could be a cost-effective solution for avoiding accommodation fees, it can present additional problems of isolation from other learners, lack of independence and a real squash when it comes to gaining space to study productively in the family home, as discussed in Study International News.
Solutions for Students
If this sounds familiar, one solution to help your grown-up learner live-in, with the rest of the family alongside (and on-side with the plan) could be to extend your home with a loft conversion.
Benefits for you
Along with benefiting your commuter student, looking into your loft for additional accommodation may benefit your household prospects:
- Financial factors: whilst a professional loft conversion necessarily involves a financial cost (although simple loft conversions frequently cost less than you might expect) it can represent a saving in terms of not ‘wasting’ money on fees for student accommodation.
These rising rents for student accommodation are a growing national concern (Financial Times) as accommodation’s one of the areas where parents commonly help out their uni-going children. Investing the money in a loft conversion for the family home could mean a return on investment which could never be realised with contributions for rented accommodation. For example, current suggestions are that a loft conversion can increase the value of a property by 21% (Nationwide research) and up to 24.5% in London (Abbey Lofts research).
- Flexibility factors: loft conversions are about creating usable space, but how the space is used is entirely flexible. A basic Master Suite design of double room with en-suite facilities is ideal for a student, plus this design can be easily repurposed once your grown up student eventually leaves home: a little redecoration and restyling later and their ‘student digs’ could re-emerge as a similar zone for another child; a luxury master suite for you; or become a home gym or yoga room (ensuite facilities make this ideal).
A master suite also usefully provides guest accommodation, even for renting out to a student after your own has left home – especially if you’re living in a university city such as London (and are missing the patter of large feet)!
- Future factors: converting your loft frequently presents a financially positive option compared with moving home to accommodate a family which is growing in number (see Is It Worth Getting My Loft Converted) yet it can also be the far less expensive solution for accommodating a growing up family!
Even if your children are undecided about uni or travelling, when you love your home and where it’s located and wouldn’t want to have to move when the children grow bigger (and end up staying in the nest for longer) then investing in a loft conversion can be a way of ensuring you’ll have the flexible accommodation needed in the future.
- Functionality factors: a loft conversion can also be a chance to update the functionality and fabric of your home:
- Sound and thermal insulation is integral with every loft conversion design, to minimise transfer of noise, either to or from the new room. This is particularly beneficial if you also have younger children in the home.
- Giving up the loft doesn’t mean losing your storage space – bespoke fittings and built-ins can ensure there’s space for storage as well as your student.
- Working up on the roof brings the chance to incorporate improvements such as renewing the roof, improving energy efficiency, or upgrading insulation and plumbing systems.
Support for students
But how about the student? Many students responding to those recent articles, particularly on Twitter, feel that living at home whilst trying to study can have a negative effect. So how can a loft conversion better support your uni-child’s studies?
- Independence – loft conversions can be created to allow not only a work zone free of noise and distractions from the family, but also offer some of the independence many stay-at-home uni students feel they miss out on (The Guardian), especially if they’re gaining the top floor of the house for themselves.
- Studying – the internet, particularly sites like Pinterest, are awash with ideas for creating study spaces conducive to learning, that’s no surprise. But what can be surprising is that a loft conversion may automatically deliver what’s required. Take the top ten from the popular Ameritec Blog – at least 7 of their 10 recommendations can be created with a loft conversion:
- Pick one place – a dedicated space for studying supports concentration and brings benefits like not having to pack everything away from the kitchen table when the family needs to eat. Instead, papers and books can be organised within the students’ own space and study schedules pinned to the walls without interfering with others.
- Get comfortable – Ameritec suggests comfort is important, but also mentions not getting too comfortable! The great thing about a loft conversion is that can allow the creation of zones for different purposes – dedicated desk / study / library zones, and alternative bedroom / chill out zones.
- Natural light – rooflights in loft conversions definitely maximise the flood of natural light during the day – ideal for studying. Dormer windows also provide plenty of additional light, plus useful space for a desk or reading nook, with windows also providing …
- Fresh air – important generally and particularly when you’re studying, many loft window designs can incorporate a level of ‘outside’ space, such as a roof terrace or balcony window, which can benefit health, well-being, and those studies.
- Other lighting – loft conversion designs take lighting into account for both illumination and creating atmosphere – whatever the room’s being used for. Bright overhead lights can be avoided with downlighting, whilst desk lamps provide well-lit zones for reading and writing.
- Ambient noise – nature sounds can enhance productivity (Huffington Post) – so much so that Youtube is full of nature sound study tracks, to listen as you study. Taking studies skywards with a loft conversion can mean accessing nature, bird and weather sounds for real.
- Plants – house plants help improve air quality and the feeling of bringing the outdoors in. With the right windows, a loft room can feel very much like being close to plant-life and nature, particularly if there are trees nearby. If outside greenery is limited, a few plants inside and appropriately toned walls, such as a soft green can help to bring that feel of the outside in, especially as green also happens to be a colour associated with enhanced concentration.
- Remember to leave – Ameritec recommends coming and going from the space regularly. Whether it’s solely a learning zone, or a learning space combined with a bedroom, the fact your student’s up in the loft means that there will be times they’re obliged to just come away: downstairs for refreshments and meals; visit with family and when they return back up, they’ll switch back into study mode.
Finally, it’s also worth bearing in mind that creating student accommodation with a loft conversion doesn’t mean your lovely new loft space has to be used by the student to benefit the student. Creating a luxury Master Suite in the loft for your own sanctuary might enable you to re-jig other bedrooms so you can offer your old parental bedroom for your uni-student off-spring to use instead of (or even as well as) their old bedroom, so they benefit from extended, dedicated study space, whilst you get a beautiful bespoke bedroom!
To find out more, ask Abbey Lofts for a free, no obligation site visit.