Lofts: To convert or not to convert?

We have spent about a year planning and investigating whether or not a loft conversion would work for us. There were a number of factors to consider:

  • What extra space we might be able to gain?
  • How to divide up and use any additional space?
  • How much would it cost?
  • How would the work affect our house’s value?
  • Would we do better to move house?
  • How would we finance the work?
  • How would it affect our income from taking in lodgers at home currently?
  • Would these works offer more in terms of rental value of the house in future?
  • How would it impact on our future family plans?
  • What lifestyle options would additional rooms offer the household in future?

We went through the list of questions above with deliberation. We live in a terraced property in an area around an hour away from London. So there is good demand for houses where we live and that demand has longevity due to our proximity to London, but that still doesn’t necessarily mean that the money we spend on our loft conversion will result in an immediate increase in the value of our home – we know this because we invited three estate agents around to offer us a valuation on our home both as it stands and as they would expect it to be valued if it had had the loft converted. So for us, as for many people, deciding to convert the loft rather than move house was a decision made after balancing a number of factors rather than a straight-forward maths solution.

We like our place and the neighbourhood it is in (so convenient for public transport and shops), plus we also like the income that we get from renting rooms for weekday stays to lodgers (for anyone interested in finding out more about that, google ‘UK Rent a Room Relief’ – currently up to £7.5k per year income is allowable tax free if you rent a room out to lodgers staying within your own home). At the same time, we want to start a family and we want our kids to have enough space to grow older in. At some point in the future we might like to think about fostering too – and for that you need to be able to offer a child their own room. So we want enough space to continue having lodgers in and some privacy for any family we start of our own.  Our home needs to provide us with some versatility.

If we moved house then our rental offer to lodgers may not be so attractive as we are so well located for transport. If we moved house, we’d need to factor in the cost of stamp duty plus removal costs, plus the cost of any renovations or decorating necessary in the new place too….

So, sure – terraced housing is not naturally spacious!  But we like where we’re at.  Also, the layout of rooms that we can achieve with a loft conversion in our terraced house has its own advantage over the layout we’d have if we moved to a semi-detached with an equal number of rooms; because once our loft is converted then we will gain privacy from our own  master bedroom on a floor of its own with a bathroom of its own, whereas in a semi-detached we’d be likely still to share a floor with the majority of other bedrooms.

In terraced housing, floor space on the ground floor is at a premium and unless front and back rooms have been knocked through then living rooms space on the ground floor can be pretty small.  By adding a bedroom or rooms at loft level, then we could choose to free up a large bedroom on the 1st floor to serve as an additional living room. As a play room or additional living room space for kids maybe…

So you need to spend some time thinking through what would work for you. Visit some conversions. Invite some estate agents over. Talk to a mortgage advisor. Spend a lot of time on pinterest! Do your number crunching… and come to a decision.

We decided to go ahead with an L-shaped dormer conversion with a master bedroom, ensuite and walk-in wardrobe over the main body of the house; and a further, smaller bedroom over the ‘outrigger’ back.

The work started today and over the next 8-10 weeks, we will track the project’s progress here on !






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