One way of saving money to gain a bigger house (especially in the more-expensive South East of England), is to purchase a property with extension potential, including being able to build a loft room, rather than pay for a house with more bedrooms initially. Whilst a loft conversion with a master bedroom and en-suite shower room can cost the best part of £45K these days, it is still often a cheaper way of gaining that extra bedroom.
With this in mind, we share our top tips for a great loft conversion…
Building out of the existing roof to create more useable space inside will give you a much bigger conversion and better use of space. As long as there are no planning restrictions, building a full-width dormer window across the roof at the back and changing the side of the roof so it’s ‘straight’ (otherwise known as a ‘hip and gable’ conversion) instead of sloping (this isn’t possible with mid-terraced houses), will maximise the space internally.
Check the roof height
For a loft to be suitable for conversion, the main space should be at least 2.3m at the highest point – generally speaking, the steeper the pitch of the roof, the better potential there is for conversion. If possible and it’s safe, stand up in the loft and walk around, as this will give you an idea of how much useable space there is. If there isn’t enough head height, even by building out of the roof, you may be able to lower the ceilings in the rooms below, although this will be expensive and disruptive. Another alternative may be to rebuild the roof to make it higher, although again, this is a big, expensive job.
Is there room for a staircase?
If you’re planning a loft conversion, you’ll need space for a staircase up to the loft on the floor below, and sometimes this can mean taking space from an existing bedroom. If this is the case, you’ll need to think about whether a loft conversion will continue to give you the space you need (and value for money). Spiral staircases can be a good space-saving solution, as can narrow (and straight) ‘space-saver’ staircases, although they aren’t necessarily practical for everyday use and might not pass building regulation inspections.
What will you use the space for?
One of the most popular types of loft conversion is the desirable ‘master suite’ with shower room as we mentioned before, but you need to consider what works best for your family. If you have children, might your loft have enough space to put two bedrooms up there and you keep one of the bigger bedrooms below? Or would the loft actually make a great home office space, something that is very sought-after in the current climate.
Think about how you spend your budget
Some loft conversions can be pricey, but the many are affordable depending on the size and type of conversion you are looking for. You can gain a simple loft conversion and bedroom by just including the installation of skylights and leaving the roof shape unchanged (so no dormer) and forgoing a shower room. You can also save money by offering to do the decorating yourself, something that loft conversion companies can often charge quite a lot for. Have a chat with several recommended companies to get quotes, and discuss your budget and requirements with them- you may find the difference in price more than you think!