There are lots of good reasons to convert a loft into living space. If you’re running out of space in your home, it could be a great way of freeing up living space without having to upsize to a bigger home or build an extension. If you’re adding a new bedroom, it could even add value to your property.
That said, converting a loft is a big task and you need to be certain that it’s feasible. Here are some of the biggest questions to ask yourself before taking on a loft conversion.
How much clutter is in your loft?
Most people use their loft as a dumping ground for clutter. In order to turn your loft into a living space, you’ll need to remove all this stuff.
Some of it may be easy to dispose of and may have been stuff that you were meaning to get rid of anyway. It could be worth hiring a company such as Mr Cheap Rubbish Removal to help get rid of this clutter if it’s of no use to anyone. This could be easier than taking this clutter to the dump yourself.
As for the items that you think could be valuable to someone else, you may want to consider donating or selling these items. The likes of eBay and Gumtree are great for selling unwanted possessions. Alternatively, there may be a second-hand store that you can sell or donate items too.
Some of the items in your loft may still be of value to you, in which case you need to find a way of relocating them. This can be difficult if you don’t have the space elsewhere in your home – you may have no choice but to use a self-storage company like Big Yellow. You’ll spend a lot of money in the long run by renting out self-storage, so this should be a last resort if there’s nowhere else to store your belongings.
Not knowing what to do with the clutter can be one of the biggest reasons why people never follow through with their loft conversion dreams. Make sure you’ve planned this all out before undertaking any work to convert your loft.
Have you considered building regulations?
Certain improvements may need to be made as legal building regulations if you plan to use your loft as an extra living space. It won’t be legally classed as a bedroom unless you make these improvements and therefore you won’t gain any added value.
You’ll need to firstly consider whether the floor is structurally stable enough – some lofts may have no suitable flooring. This will be essential if people are going to be walking in the loft.
The roof also needs to be in good conditions so that there are no holes or leaks. On top of this, you’ll want to consider the height of it – if it’s a very low ceiling, the roof may need to be lifted to meet legal requirements.
The room was also need a suitable fire exit. This can be one of the biggest challenges for those looking to develop their loft into a living space – whilst you can simply use a ladder, it won’t legally be classed as a living space unless it has a staircase. An internal staircase could involve having to rethink the layout of the floor below and may involve borrowing space from another room if you’ve only got a small landing. Alternatively, you can place a fire escape on the exterior of your home.
You’ll need to consider whether meeting these building regulations is something you can feasibly do. A surveyor or loft conversion specialist may be able to help you determine this.
Will you need planning permission?
A loft conversion can usually be done within permitted development rights, but there may be some improvements that you need to seek planning permission for.
Any improvements that make a difference to the outside of your property may require planning permission. This could include raising the roof, adding an outside fire escape or even possibly adding extra windows (skylights are generally not a problem, but side windows may be viewed as an invasion on people’s privacy unless they meet certain measurements). Internal improvements won’t need planning permission (so if you don’t need to raise the roof, add side windows or add an exterior staircase, you needn’t make an application).
It’s often easier to get planning permission on a detached house than it is a semi-detached or terraced house. If you live in a very old house (usually over 150 years), the property may be listed and you could find that planning permission is more difficult to get accepted. Certain areas may also have stricter planning rules such as national parks or areas protected by national heritage, although generally if the modification is in keeping with the home’s architecture it shouldn’t make too much of a difference.
If necessary, always make sure you have planning permission before starting any work.
Can you afford a loft conversion?
A loft conversion is usually cheaper than an extension, but it’s still a big investment for many homeowners. Most people don’t have the money in savings to carry out a conversion, which could mean taking out a loan.
A lot of people remortgage their home to fund home improvements such as a loft conversion. This can be worthwhile if you’ve lived in your home for a while and gained equity, however may not be possible if you’ve owned the property for a short period and made no previous improvements.
Another option could be to take out a personal loan. The deposit you need to pay and the interest rates you’ll have to pay may depend on your credit score. Take the time to shop around to find the best loan options. Sites like My Property Loan specialize in these kinds of home improvement loans.
It’s important to remember that a loft conversion can add a lot of value to your home. If you have plans to sell up in the future, you’ll easily pay off any money spent on your conversion and you’ll make a big return on top. Alternatively, if you’ve paid off your mortgage, you could consider an equity release after getting a conversion.
Sometimes it’s safer to get your home valued and get an idea of projected future value before committing to a conversion. A surveyor or an agent may be able to help you get a professional valuation. This may help you when budgeting.
There are ways in which you can save money such as attempting to convert your loft yourself instead of hiring contractors, but you should be confident in your own ability before taking on such a job. You should also consider the extent of your conversion such as whether you want to add an en suite bathroom, skylights, heating and electrics – all of which will add to the overall cost.