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7 Things you Need to Know When Considering a Loft Conversion

Loft conversions can add more space and value but there's a lot to think about first. Sam Wylie-Harris seeks some expert advice.

It’s safe to say our homes have seen a lot of action over the past few months. So much so that some of us may be thinking about going up in the world – with a loft conversion, to create extra living space without having to move.

Savvy as it may sound, large construction jobs come at a price and there’s lots to consider. To help, we turned to trades site myjobquote.co.uk for insight into some of the key things to think about if you’re considering a loft conversion…

1. Hiring an architect

When planning a loft conversion, it’s best to hire an architect to design and draw up the plans. This means the loft conversion will certainly be safe, and there’s a clear plan for contractors to follow to save any confusion, time and money. Architect fees need to be considered and added to any budget for a loft conversion.

2. Planning permission and building regulations

Most loft conversions don’t need planning permission, however it’s always recommended you double-check. An architect or builder will have more of an idea whether you need to apply for planning permission, but it’s also good to research yourself. For a terraced house, you won’t need planning permission for adding 40m3 of space, and for semi-detached and detached houses, it’s 50m3 of space. You can find out more at the planning portal (planningportal.co.uk).

Even if your loft conversion doesn’t need planning permission, it will still need to adhere to building regulations and guidelines. Both contractors and architects should ensure all work being carried out follows building regulations. Not following regulations can lead to fines and even knocking down conversions that aren’t up to scratch.

3. Type of loft conversion

There are a number of different kinds of loft conversion, and it’s always good to have an idea of what type you can have in your property and what outcome you want. This will also give you an idea of what budget you’ll need too.

For example, if you’re looking for a cheaper loft conversion, a roof light loft conversion is the most affordable option, whereas a mansard loft conversion is the most expensive type. The type of loft conversion you have can also be dictated by what type and size of space you have available.

Roof light loft conversion: This is the most affordable option, as no construction is carried out on the roof, but windows are added to let in light. They don’t provide as much space as other conversions because the roof is left where it is, so if you want more space, other loft conversions may be ideal.

Dormer loft conversion: A dormer conversion increases the amount of head space in your loft, so you’ll have more space to play around with than a roof light conversion. Extra space is added by extending from the roof, and a dormer window is then added.

Hip-to-gable loft conversion: A hip-to-gable loft conversion changes the shape of a property’s roof entirely. This will give a lot of extra room to a home, but usually can only be built on semi-detached and detached houses as a sloping roof is changed to a vertical roof.

Mansard loft conversion: This type of loft conversion will give a property the most space, as the roof is completely altered (most of the time to become a flat roof) and new walls are added too.

4. Budget

Having a clear budget to stick to helps you decide what loft conversion you can afford, and what finishes and furnishing you can afford too. There are a lot of options out there to choose from, from door handles to windows, and having a budget can help you make decisions and ensure you’re not left out of pocket.

The size of your loft conversion can have a massive impact on your budget. Smaller loft conversions can cost around £15,000, whereas a larger loft conversion can cost up to £40,000 – so you definitely need to consider what size loft conversion you need and what you can afford.

5. Staircase

Think about where you can put a staircase and how much space is available for it. This is an important part of the build as you need the loft conversion to link with the rest of the house, so the property’s layout flows naturally and the conversion doesn’t create a disjointed space. There’s a range of staircases available, even for the smallest spaces, but having a plan is a must.

6. Head space needed

The space between the ceiling and floor in your loft will give you an idea on whether your loft can be converted comfortably. The minimum height for a loft conversion is about 2.2 metres, so if your loft is smaller than this, you may not be able to convert it, or you may need extra construction work to create enough head space.

7. Increased house value

Building a loft conversion could increase your home’s value by up to 22%, according to a survey conducted by Nationwide Building Society, so it’s often well worth the time, effort and money. It’s generally the best value-for-money option to add value to your home, rather than extensions and garage conversions. However, if your main aim is to increase your property’s value, make sure you do your research first on houses in your area, as there always a ceiling price on properties and you don’t want to overspend.

There are more advantages to building a loft conversion than disadvantages, as long as you do your research, keep within your budget and work with trusted contractors; there will be no unwanted surprises. It’s always recommended that you thoroughly research any significant decisions before beginning any building work.

7 Ways to Add Value to your Home

add value to home

From ambitious building projects to timely tidying up, Luke Rix-Standing looks at how to boost the value of your property.

add value to home

Keen to add value to your home? Whether you’ve just moved into a decrepit bedsit, or have lived in a mansion for years of domestic bliss, there is still plenty of mileage to adding value to your property.

Doing so could help improve your own quality of life while you’re still in the property (if buyers find something appealing, odds are you might too), and keep you well placed on the property ladder, regardless of whether you’re currently looking to sell.

From five-year plans to on-the-day dust-ups, here’s seven ways to add value to your home…

add value to home

1. Loft conversion

Perhaps the gold standard of home improvements, loft conversions are not for the faint of heart, but can come with major domestic and financial rewards if done well. Adding square footage is a guaranteed value-boost, while the market fixation with number of bedrooms means that adding one can practically ensure a hefty payday when it comes to selling.

“The average loft conversion costs around £40,000,” says Chris Smith, regional director at estate agents Yopa, “but can increase your property value by an estimated 21%. They’re usually more of a long-term strategy, so you might not see all the money back if you sell immediately.”

Loft conversions are not cheap – and not suitable for every property of course – but they often perfectly prove that old adage, that you have to spend money to make money.

add value to home

2. Brush up on kerb appeal

First impressions matter, and putting your best foot forward is key to getting customers through the door. “We estimate that simply by improving your property’s ‘kerb appeal’, with a freshly painted exterior, clean windows, a tidy driveway and a new front door, can boost the value of a property by up to 10%,” says Smith. “The outside of your property is the first thing potential buyers will see, both when browsing online and in person at a viewing.”

On modern properties, buyers may probably expect double glazing – a savvy way to save on your energy bill in the meantime – along with up-to-date security and draught-proofing.

add value to home

3. Go for open-plan living

Open-plan living has been in vogue for some years now, and it’s clearly not going anywhere anytime soon. Most modern house-hunters are looking for spaces that are practical and adaptable, and it seems distinctly old-fashioned to cook your food in one room and then have to transport it to another to eat it.

Open-plan living spaces don’t have to be giant, or rectangular – you’re looking to create areas that are connected but distinct. Consider sliding doors or curtains that can pull back during the day, waist or shoulder-high partitions, or doorway-like arches that demarcate your space.

These are the golden rules of open-plan living: separation without isolation; continuity without uniformity.

add value to home

4. Refurbish the kitchen

A recent report by Norton Finance mapped out the most expensive home improvements performed by homeowners in their first year in a new property, and kitchen renovation ranked second only to furniture.

The centrepiece to so many homes, it’s no surprise that the kitchen commands so much attention both before and after a sale, and a well-designed room can easily pull in extra thousands.

“If your budget can only stretch to renovating one room, that room should be the kitchen,” says Smith. “You can cut costs by painting cupboard doors yourself and adding new, fashionable handles.”

add value to home

5. Add a conservatory

The stars have to align somewhat for conservatories to be sensible investments, but if the cap fits, they can enhance a property with ease. Aside from the necessary financial clout, homeowners will need to ensure proper planning permission, while those with smaller gardens might want to think twice before sacrificing valuable yard space.

Though often associated with summer, conservatories really earn their keep during the winter months, when they provide a portal to the outside world, free from the cold, damp and dark.

“The addition of a traditional British conservatory typically costs around £5,000,” says Smith, “and can increase the value of a property by around 10% when done well. To add real value, make sure your conservatory is fully glazed and blends in with the style of the rest of the property.”

add value to home

6. Redecorate

Consider any second-hand shop – regardless of what it sells – and consider the price difference between products marked ‘used’, and products marked ‘like new’. This one’s a no-brainer, and just a fresh lick of paint can make pokey rooms immediately more marketable.

Your house isn’t new – but it’s new to your potential buyers, and you’ll be doing your bank balance a favour if you can make it look that way from the moment they cross the threshold.

add value to home

7. Add an extra bathroom

As with bedrooms, the number of bathrooms appears like a ranking next to your property, and it’s a crucial integer in the valuation equation. Broom closet, pantry, cupboard under the stairs – a small downstairs loo doesn’t take much, and it can be a delightfully canny way to carve profit out of otherwise wasted space.

“You can add up to 5% value to your property by adding a second bathroom,” says Smith. “An average bathroom costs £4,500, and according to NAEA Propertymark, 70% of estate agents say an additional loo helps to sell a house.”

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