Should we do a loft conversion?

(22 Posts)
westwardho Tue 22-Jan-13 12:35:16

DH and I are umming and ahhing about whether to do a dormer loft conversion in our 3-bed mid terrace Victorian house. Would love views from those who have been through the process on whether this is worth doing / how to make best use of the space we have.

Layout of house is currently:

Downstairs - reasonable size living room (for London), separate smallish but OK dining room and reasonable kitchen with room for a small table.

Upstairs: good-size master bedroom, reasonable size second double bedroom, small single, reasonable sized bathroom (but room only for bath, not bath and shower).

We now have 2 small DC (under 5) and feel like it makes sense to expand our living space. This is not our forever house, but we anticipate living here for another 4 years or so before selling up.

Main aim of the loft conversion is to get a second bathroom with a shower (we currently have a crappy shower over the bath, which I hate) and a spare room for guests. We thought we would make the new loft room the master bedroom, have the DC in the small single and small double on the first floor, and have the current master bedroom as a a spare room / study / playroom, with a sofa bed, leaving our current living room as a "grown-up" space downstairs.

But now having doubts about whether we will really make full use of the spare room / study / playroom, or whether this will end up being a wasted space / junk room. And whether in reality the kids will mostly play downstairs during the day, which means that toys etc will end up encroaching on our downstairs living room.

In an ideal world we would love to do a ground floor extension as well, creating a large kitchen diner, but we don't have the money to do both. An extension would offer a good practical family space, but would mean getting rid of some lovely period features that give the current kitchen and dining room lots of character. And we wouldn't get our second bathroom.

We felt that a loft conversion (ie an extra bedroom and bathroom) would add more value to the house when we come to sell. But now not sure whether it's all worth it and whether we'd be better off doing nothing. We've been quoted 40K for the loft conversion from a reputable company.

Views?

Mandy21 Tue 22-Jan-13 14:33:39

I don't know about the London market, but we're in a similar situation although with a 3 bed semi. Personally I think a 4 bedroomed house with what you have downstairs will be an unbalanced house - I think a downstairs extension would maximise the value of the house and for the time being (if you're only going to be there for 4 mmore years) work best as a family house - i.e. children playing downstairs rather than having an extra bedroom upstairs that (if it was my family - 3 DCs under 8) wouldn't get used.

We've therefore gone down the route of getting planning permission for a double storey extension to get a bigger kitchen diner / living space and an extra bedroom with small ensuite. When we had builders round to quote before we made that decision, they all said that a double storey extension was much more cost effective that a single storey plus a loft extension. a double storey extension isn't that much more expensive (proportionately) to a single storey. HTH

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Tue 22-Jan-13 14:36:45

If you're in a London Victorian terrace then whether or not you have the loft conversion done - the fact it's doable will probably already be factored in to the value of your home. So if it costs 40K to do it, it'll likely only add 40K to its value. Loft conversions are so common place now and so relatively unobtrusive (compared to other building works) that it won't put many buyers off if it isn't done. In fact, it can appeal to many as it means they can grow in to the house as their families get larger and future finances permit.

So it's a case of weighing up how much you value that extra bathroom!

LilyBolero Tue 22-Jan-13 14:39:37

The key question I would be asking is where will the stairs go. If you have space to put them in without encroaching on one of the existing rooms, then you will get a better return.

lalalonglegs Tue 22-Jan-13 14:58:58

Guinevere: it depends on what area of London. Around here (south west London), a large bedroom and shower in the loft would add at least #100k to the sale price.

OP: I'd definitely recommend it given your current space.

westwardho Tue 22-Jan-13 18:53:16

Thanks all - useful food for thought.

LilyBolero - plenty of room for the stairs, so we won't lose any space in existing rooms.

Mandy21 - interesting point about the double storey extension. We hadn't considered this, as we had just assumed it would be too expensive. Will have a think about this.

lalalonglegs - we're also in south west London, so that's good to know!

viktoria Tue 22-Jan-13 19:05:27

We had a loft conversion done and we are using our rooms exactly as you are planning to do (except that we also have an extra bedroom that we use as an au pair room). I love having the extra space. I love being in the loft with an ensuite - it feels like we're having our very own hotel room in the loft (and I love the fact that we have velux blinds that make the room really dark). Our old bedroom was bigger, but it's much better use of space to have it as an extra living space.
I do understand however that you would like to extend your downstairs. One of the reasons we didn't do that (apart from the fact that we don't have enought money anyway) is that it would make downstairs very open plan, and I actually like the fact that the kitchen is totally separate from the living/dining room.
I think especially in London, it's always great to have a bit more space. If I have one regret, then it is that we hadn't done the loft conversion earlier!

crazyhead Tue 22-Jan-13 19:49:20

If that were me and I was thinking of selling in a few years, I'd get a few estate agents round for a valuation/chat about how much more you would currently get for a loft conversion in your area. At least you'll find out how much of an investment it would be.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Tue 22-Jan-13 20:01:09

lala - I'm in SW London too - and yes it can/did add £100k to the value of houses. But in my own postcode, so many have now been done that even houses on the same streets that haven't been, have appreciated the same rise less £60k. It makes sense when you think about it. Why would anyone buy the house with the loft converted if you could buy the house next door for £100K less and then spend just £40k to do it? Especially when half your friends have lived through a loft conversion and tell you how easy it was.

redandwhitesprinkles Tue 22-Jan-13 20:09:06

I wouldn't bother thinking about 2 storey extension as you won't get planning permission. If you can't afford to do both do whatever suits your family. Before you sell you could get simple plans and quotes about the work you didn't do so people can see it is possible.

Both these things are fairly standard in Victorian semis so shouldn't take much for potential buyers to see what could be done. We also can't afford to do both but as it our forever house we are starting the mess at the top and working down!

carrotandtomato Tue 22-Jan-13 20:19:17

I tend to agree that an upstairs playroom won't get used. It seems like a waste of a big room.
Personally I would do the downstairs work as it has the potential to improve your way of life more until you move, and I think improve your resale value. We just sold a house were we had converted the loft and buyers did love it and it helped get a quick sale but houses on the same road got much higher offers where the kitchen / downstairs was done (more than the price of doing the work)
Could you not just improve your shower in the current bathroom?

lalalonglegs Tue 22-Jan-13 21:25:01

yeah, Guinevere, you could say that about anything: why buy the house with the nice kitchen/landscaped garden/walnut floors when you could buy the tatty place next door and do it yourself? I certainly wouldn't pay for someone else's finish or extension but plenty of people in Clapham/Battersea will (and then some).

SE London here. We did ours but needed the bedroom space. And we have an open plan kitchen diner at the back

Cost £30k including all fixtures fittings ensuite carpets and decorating.

Value added £45-50k.

So if you need more space, can afford it and will gain the money back when you sell up in years to come (ie not increasing mortgage by the cost if the conversion) then it's a good long term plan.

Can you knock your dining room into kitchen with an RSJ?

Sorry slowly pondering.

like this pictures 9 and 10

westwardho Wed 23-Jan-13 12:39:05

Really useful to get all these views.

Unfortunately there's not much scope to improve the shower in our current bathroom - whatever we did it would still just be a shower over the bath.

Shattereddreams - knocking the dining room and kitchen together is certainly an option, although we need to work out whether it would give us much more usable space, and whether it will look OK (we would lose some nice period features, and the two rooms as they currently are have a lovely feel to them).
Not sure in particular what we would do with flooring (currently terracotta tiles in the kitchen / stripped wood floors in the dining rooms).

That's not my house btw, just one for sale nearby!

pinkdelight Thu 24-Jan-13 10:44:56

We're getting the loft done soon on our 3-bed semi, and plan to reallocate the bedrooms in the same way you described. But the difference is I work from home so the study will definitely get used (it's the main driver for the extension in fact) and we have guests regularly so the guest bedroom aspect will be valuable too. A playroom would be more of a waste I think as the kids are still little and like to be where we are, downstairs.

We're hoping to save up and extend at the back too, so we can have more family space downstairs, but I don't think there's much point making family space upstairs. Would it make more sense to give your dc a bigger bedroom each and just have the single bedroom as a study maybe? The kids could always share a room if you have guests.

If you don't really have a pressing need for a study/guest bedroom, and the main driver for doing the loft is just to have a shower, then I'm not sure it's worth it. Do you really hate shower over a bath that much? We have a fantastic one. Not sure what difference it makes whether you're standing in a bath or shower tray, as long as the shower itself is good quality. Can you really not just upgrade it? Or you could consider doing the downstairs extension and including a wetroom it it, I've seen a few of those on my house hunts.

Oh and one more thing - sorry to go on - in our last house we used a London company called Cosy Lofts who do much less expensive things to lofts that you can't call a conversion for sales purposes, but that can give you extra space for bedroom, playrooms, with or without en suites. Think they were less than 10k, only took 3 weeks and were really good. Might be worth a google.

westwardho Thu 24-Jan-13 12:32:24

pinkdelight - what you say makes a lot of sense. We work from home occasionally, but not enough to justify the loft conversion in itself. We have guests to stay about every couple of months - again, probably not enough to justify creating a dedicated spare room. And I agree that family space downstairs would make more sense.

Will look into whether there's any way we could upgrade the current bathroom. Unfortunately don't think we'd have space for a bathroom / wetroom downstairs. The Cosy Lofts option sounds interesting - will look at this.

I think we will definitely go ahead and do something (on the basis that we have the money to do either a conversion or extension, and we're confident that we would at least get the money back when we sell in a few years time). Just need to decide which one to go for! DH and I going round in circles - just wish we could afford both!

We were quoted 46K for an extension, not including cost of the kitchen, which seems expensive. Does anyone know if this is fairly standard in London? An extension would essentially involve knocking together two existing rooms and extending an L-shaped space into a large square / rectangle, IYSWIM.

pinkdelight Fri 25-Jan-13 12:59:05

Sounds like a lot. Worth getting a couple more quotes. We looked into it at the last house and a decent firm quoted us somewhere in the lower 30Ks - that was 3 years ago in south London. Shouldn't think prices have rocketed since then.

westwardho Fri 25-Jan-13 13:15:33

pinkdelight - do you remember the name of the firm?

pinkdelight Fri 25-Jan-13 16:26:01

Pretty sure it was these guys: www.harringtonbuilders.co.uk/
They weren't the cheapest, but they seemed like a quality outfit. Worth a look.

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