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Blasted loft conversion dilemma

(14 Posts)
BoyMeetsWorld Tue 13-Mar-18 20:10:07

Sorry if this is long. I know the standard (sensible!) advice around lofts is don't touch it with a barge pole if unofficial conversion and always do the job properly, but hear me out & then I'd be glad of advice as we've been going in circles.

Bought our house as a 3 bed (priced as a 3 bed) although it had an unofficial loft conversion which we were shown as a potential study or storage space- not included in price, but not discounted for either. It does need some obvious work such as a replacement skylight and decorating but it's actually in pretty good shape. Biggest visible issue = space saver stairs BUT they aren't the dodgy cheap ones, they're full width and custom made for the house. In fact, surveyor when we bought the property commented that for the £ they must have paid getting those done it's bizarre they didn't just do a formal staircase.

Surveyor when we bought said the loft was perfectly sound for its sold use but would require further inspection if to be used as a bedroom and may need bringing up to regs or may be ok - he didn't like to comment. We've since had 2 builders, a structural surveyor and a loft conversion company over. All agree that the back section is perfectly fine in terms of modern standard joists and insulation, but the small front area you walk over to get to the room itself could do with some joist reinforcement if to be used more regularly. Some (including the surveyor) have said the staircase is fine , others have said it should be replaced with a formal staircase to pass building regs.

We've had a lot of other work done to the house so already covered fire doors etc.

Now - to do the loft 'properly' we seem to be looking at around 30-40k with staircase. It would have the benefit of requiring our 3rd bedroom to be knocked into making that room a bit larger too. But it's a v large amount of money.

Particularly if it sounds like what we have up there already may not be so far off building regs anyhow.

To add some context- we very much need this space....but as a spare room for when DHs family who live abroad come to visit, not for any of us. So whilst it would be a bedroom, it wouldn't be being used daily. This is also what makes me shirk at spending so much on an occasional use room.

We've had alternative quotes of circa 15k just to make good what we have, with new window, plastering, decorating etc.

This would leave us money to recarpet the rest of the house which badly needs it and not wipe out our entire savings.

We live in the SE so I'm very concerned that if we spend 30-40k on top of the 60k We've already invested extending this property and doing a new bathroom, we could end up actually making a loss as the SE is due a housing price fall by all accounts.

So...all things considered, what would you do???

JoJoSM2 Wed 14-Mar-18 18:41:35

By the sounds of it, you might have overpaid in the first place? So if you were to have a legal 3rd bedroom, you wouldn't recoup the costs but if you keep it a dodgy room, then a savvy buyer will only pay for a 2 bed house and you won't get your money either?

If you don't need that space, couldn't you just leave it and take stock in the future? Perhaps you'll decide to use it or sell the house etc but at the moment there doesn't seem much point spending any money on it.

43percentburnt Wed 14-Mar-18 18:48:52

My understanding is you bought a 3 bed house which had a 'boarded out loft with staircase'.

If you brought it up to regs could you make it your main bedroom with ensuite?

Do you plan on staying there long term?

How big is downstairs and the garden? Does the downstairs space match the upstairs? Or would having 4 beds make downstairs seem too small for the type of family that wanted the upstairs space? Or by converting and taking part of bedroom 3 are you effectively changing a 3 bed into a 3 bigger bedroom house?

43percentburnt Wed 14-Mar-18 18:54:13

I'd probably use it as it is but make a good fire escape (you can get rope ladders like this www.fireprotectiononline.co.uk/kidde-7m-fire-escape-ladder.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5_vk1r3s2QIV47ztCh2X8gwvEAQYASABEgI5hPD_BwE). I wouldn't let any children sleep up there as children do not wake when smoke detectors go off.

The previous owners are likely to have used as a functioning room but it just can't be sold as such. If I wasn't staying there forever I'd probably use like it is. Pop into an estate agent or two and ask what they think.

SomeKnobend Wed 14-Mar-18 18:58:53

Can you get an itemised quote? £15k sounds a lot for window, plastering and décor. How much is just plastering? How much to replace the window? How much for new stairs? I think I'd really narrow down what I wanted doing and exactly how much it'd be for each thing making up the bare essentials, and then decide.

Angryosaurus Wed 14-Mar-18 19:16:39

agree with 43. I’d use it as it is for an occasional bedroom but never for children

JoJoSM2 Wed 14-Mar-18 19:21:20

Oh so there are 3 beds + the loft room and you paid for a 3 bed? So the loft is a freebie bonus room?

wonkylegs Wed 14-Mar-18 19:35:15

That seems an awful lot if as you say the vast majority is up to standard. My clients are having an awkward loft conversion done from scratch and that is costing 40k for a bedroom and a bathroom in the loft, steelwork (slightly complicated by the shape of the house & existing internal walls), new staircase created by nicking a bit of one of the bedrooms and new 1st floor bathroom.
I know we are in the NE so costs are less and rectification costs more than starting from scratch but if it's only a small bit of joist reinforcement, new stair and Velux, plastering and decorating - your figures seem a little on the high side.

Ariela Thu 15-Mar-18 00:14:46

Are you able to do your own decorating (not difficult, see videos on You Tube, sorry I'm from an era where you don't pay for decorators or even plumber or tilers unless you're loaded). That will shave some ££ off.

ForgivenessIsDivine Thu 15-Mar-18 06:38:33

We have bought, lived in and sold two similar houses. We used the loft for occasional guests and study space. We did look into fully converting but the costs versus benefits didn't stack up for us.

DonaldWeasley Thu 15-Mar-18 08:23:29

I’d just be careful with putting heavy furniture on the non-reinforced joist area and do what someone else said about a fire exit option from there (roll out ladder) maybe with a mains-linked fire alarm throughout the house (and would keep it for guests not kids) x

BoyMeetsWorld Thu 15-Mar-18 17:23:38

Thank you all, this is really helpful.

Yes it is a 3 bed, we got it for a v good price and the loft was just a free bonus room. We've already extended a lot downstairs- added playroom, utility, extra toilet room...so I think the downstairs space justifies 4 beds. But we don't need 4 beds except as an occasional guest room, not planning to have more children. We wouldn't move the master bedroom upstairs as the loft bedroom would be smaller than our current master bedroom - plus I really like our room!

The prices in our area for building work are insane, we are only 30 mins commute from London. We've had a lot of quotes. Sadly the hours we work mean I'd really rather not be doing DIY myself in the tiny bit of spare time we get, even to save money!

I had expected to be shot down at the idea of using it without doing the full version to regs so this is very reassuring. Those who have sold similar properties...did you find them hard to sell?

Angryosaurus Thu 15-Mar-18 17:57:11

As long as you advertise/price as an equivalent 3 bed not 4 surely it would be a bonus to most people?!

ForgivenessIsDivine Thu 15-Mar-18 18:42:37

No problem to sell. It was a reasonably priced house.

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