Apart from the money aspect, which we will touch upon later, one of the first things to consider about a loft conversion would probably be about the use of the space – what are you going to use it for?
The reason for this is that in some cases, provided you have the room to do so, building a ground level extension or something like an orangery, garden room or conservatory may be the better option. These can often prove less costly and also add resale value to the property.
Assuming that you have ruled out building something on ground level there are a number of pointers to consider about loft conversions.
What you can do with the space is going to depend quite heavily on the existing house structure. In other words, can the building cope with the changes you plan to make?
If you are thinking of a bathroom or shower, what about your current hot water supply, will it be able to cope? If you have a small combi boiler for example, it could be the case that you need to upgrade that to supply the new outlet.
Power is another area as your existing fuse board & wiring should be able to handle any new power.
How much of the loft space do you need to use? If you already use the loft for storage (or if there are water tanks installed there) where are you going to relocate the items to?
Are you going to need to fit a dormer or just some “Velux” windows? Fitting a dormer is a much bigger job, clearly it will cost more and the structural consideration will be more complex.
What type of house do you live in? The limits for permitted loft developments in terms of size for a terraced or a detached & semi-detached house are 40 & 50 cubic metres respectively – that would usually give you a room of around 12ft x 18ft.
Your current home insurance will need to be amended to cover the loft conversion, with a probable price increase as a result – Don’t forget about insurance cover for the construction work whilst in progress.
Builders themselves, in a survey by Direct Line Insurance, say that loft extensions are one of the “most problematical” home improvements.
You can do a loft conversion without planning permission, but there are a set of guidelines to follow in order to qualify as a “permitted development”.
Basically you can build up to 40 cubic metres for a terrace house & 50 Cubic metres for a detached or semi-detached house. The materials you use need to be very similar to what is already there, no balconies are allowed and any dormer can’t be higher than the existing roofline.
You should always check with your local author beforehand anyway – but some good guidance is on the planning portal here:
Many examples of prices for loft conversions will show that you will need to spend no less than £10,000 for a change of use type conversion, but you could well be looking at spending over £20,000 for a decent room fitted by an experienced team.
If you are doing the work as an exercise in increasing the property value for resale purposes, then you need to carefully consider your return on investment for this type of home improvement.