Loft conversion or move house? Help please!!

(21 Posts)
Janeyspamey Tue 29-Jan-13 15:55:53

We live in a three bed mid terrace and are quite happy with the area. However, we are now tying to decide whether to spend £20k on a loft conversion or move. I've spoken to a couple of EAs and they've said as is the house would get around £180-186k (a £10-£4k loss). As a four bed, 2 bathroom home it might get around £200-210 but there would be fewer perspective buyers and the busy road and being a terrace would put some people off. I'm starting a new job soon so we would have to wait probably 3 to 6 months if we wanted to move as I don't think banks would consider us before then. We have 2 DCs and potential visitors maybe a few times a year. Ideally new room would become the master, DCs might share our current room and then there would be a single as a study and a small double for guests. We have the cash for most of the conversion. Thoughts please

lalalonglegs Tue 29-Jan-13 16:35:20

Do it. The costs of moving would soon eat into that #20k even with only 1% stamp duty. You like the house and converting the loft is relatively straightforward and stress-free (especially compared to moving).

Pendeen Tue 29-Jan-13 16:41:04

Short answer (if you don't want to bother with the detail) is: unless you LOVE your current home, then move!

Long answer:

Has the work been looked at by someone with experience of the work e.g. builder, loft conversion specialist or a professional e.g. architect, surveyor?

Or is this just 'first thoughts'?

Quite often the staircase needed to reach the loft conversion usually takes out one bedroom unless the existing staircase is unusually large you would still have a 3 bed house.

As you are in a terrace you would have have no option to alter the roof height and limited options for dormer windows. If the roof pitch is not sufficient then headroom would be limited over a large area. Insulating the pitch rather than the loft floor is quite challenging.

The heating system would have to be altered quite extensively.

The EA's valuation is just that and you might not achieve the figure suggested.

The disruption and mess is usually horrendous.

As an architect, I welcome most commissions for domestic projects but am always very, very wary of loft conversions and have on several occasions actually turned down the work and recommended that the homeowner move.

wendybird77 Tue 29-Jan-13 16:44:05

I think it depends how long you are planning to be there and if you care whether or not you recoup your costs. If you don't need the bedroom, I'd put the DCs in together and use your 3rd bedroom as a study with a sofabed or daybed for when guests come. I've seen loads of 4 beds that don't have the living space to go with the bedrooms, so isn't going to appeal to a family looking for a 4 bed house. Also, if you are on a busy road I'm guessing you don't have dedicated parking, which will also put off most families looking for a 4 bed. BUT, if you are going to be there for forever, or quite a long time, and it will add to your quality of life then I would do it. Particularly as it seems you can afford it. You may not get much more than a 3 bed would fetch though if you sell.

Janeyspamey Tue 29-Jan-13 22:01:59

Thank you all for your posts. We do have off road parking but no access to the garden. I think I'm coming around to thinking that the sensible option is to stay put for the time being and move when we find something that is bigger.

Janeyspamey Tue 29-Jan-13 22:06:45

Thank you Pandeen for your detailed response. Good to get a true picture. We've had a builder come around and he's due to come back next week with an architect. However, from what you are saying it is a big job with little merit.

Janeyspamey Tue 29-Jan-13 22:08:11

Sorry Pendeen, not Pandeen. I'm doing this on my phone so can't see the threadconfused

Sinkingfeeling Tue 29-Jan-13 22:29:06

£20k also sounds on the low side for a loft conversion. Maybe staying put, saving what you can and looking for a house with a better balance of living and sleeping accommodation might be the better option.

lolalotta Wed 30-Jan-13 05:47:39

Pendeen any tips on how I go about finding a good architect in my area...we would like to do a one story extension on the back of the house we are hoping to purchase and feel an architect would be a good place to start! Sorry for hijacking!

Pendeen Wed 30-Jan-13 11:43:38

Hello lolalotta apart from the yellow pages and BT directory, the RIBA website holds details of all practices registered with them. Oddly enough although they are our recognised professional body, membership is not compulsory!

Most architects offer a free home consultation.

I usually allow a 'free' hour to chat through the client's aspirations and issues, have a look round the property, discuss initial thoughts and the services I can provide. If there is good wine coffee and cake on offer, perhaps longer!

smile

(Not an advert by the way)!

ThermalKaty Thu 31-Jan-13 05:15:01

Hi, I suggest you look at this advice. www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/commonprojects/loftconversion - in particular the part relating to fire regs - you are likely to have to upgrade all the doors onto your stair with fire doors and add mains supply linked smoke detectors.

How often do you have guests? Are you sure you need a dedicated room for them?

Dededum Thu 31-Jan-13 14:43:36

We just did our loft and the advice was smoke detectors OR fire doors not both.

Pendeen Thu 31-Jan-13 16:32:54

Dededum - unless there were unusual circumstances (in which case I am willing to be corrected) you were badly advised. Was it the building control officer who agreed to that?

Fire resisting doors and smoke detectors are almost always mandatory when loft conversions are done.

vez123 Thu 31-Jan-13 17:19:40

We live in a 3 bed terrace and a lot of houses in the area with the same footprint have had the lofts converted with a dormer. Have you had a look around you neighbourhood? Maybe you could have a peek at another house where the work has already been done?

Dededum Thu 31-Jan-13 17:27:47

I completed my loft last September, done by very reputable loft company and signed off by the building control officer. Told that the law had recently changed so fire control doors no longer required.

Pendeen Fri 01-Feb-13 23:16:11

The requirement is still listed in the building regulations guidance so I still say in nearly all cases fire resisting doors are still required.

spotty26 Wed 06-Feb-13 21:04:07

I have just had my loft done too (and approved by the Building Control) and we had the fire alarms in every room so did not have to change our nice period doors.

Porkster Wed 06-Feb-13 21:08:45

I'm a BCO. We now accept hard wired, inter linked smoke detectors in every room as an alternative to fire doors.

Pendeen Thu 07-Feb-13 14:03:31

Porkster

Interesting comment thank you. I learn something every time I visit this forum architect not BCO)!

Is that national policy as the guidance on the Planning Portal has not changed (as far as I can see) and my local BCOs still ask for fire resisting doors notwithstanding the extent of electronic detection.

Porkster Thu 07-Feb-13 19:53:58

Right back at you, Pendeen.

It's a local decision though, some LAs accept this, some don't. We lose loft conversions to Approved Inspectors if we are inflexible.

Pendeen Thu 07-Feb-13 23:53:12

Porkster.

Thanks, it's surprising how different LAs operate.

Cornwall Council are usually really nice and very helpful but regarding fire doors they are quite strict.

Must be difficult sometimes for you BCOs when confronted with these types of sitationa?

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