December 24

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Loft Conversion vs Extension: Which is the right one for you?

While both a loft conversion and an extension will increase your property value and add much needed living space to your home, a loft conversion is generally easier, cheaper and far more plausible for most homeowners. It’s also considered the best option to add value to your home.

But, it’s not always the right decision for you. 

If you have the budget and space, an extension is better suited to fulfil your unique vision because it offers a wider variety of possibilities.

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Loft Conversions and Extensions are both good for your home

Property value

If you’re trying to decide between a loft conversion and a home extension, one of the first things you probably want to know is…

Will they add value to my home? 

The great news is, yes. They both add value. 

A survey conducted by Nationwide Building Society found that a loft conversion or extension that added a bedroom and a bathroom can add up to 20% to a property’s value. 

I’m sure you can do the math, but just to drive the point home…

It your home is valued at £500,000, this type of home improvement could increase that value by… £200,000. 

It’s important to keep in mind that the value it can add to your home will depend on a number of factors, such as your home’s location and the market value of homes around you. 

The main takeaway? 

People value added usable space and they are willing to pay for it. 

Why bother with a loft conversion or home extension? For one, it could add up to 20% of your home's value. There are plenty more reasons. Read about them here...

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The freedom of space

As a homeowner, no matter how big your property is, you can never seem to have enough space. 

People like you don’t consider loft conversions or extensions because they’re bored. You need more room! 

Both options will add living space to your home for sleeping, studying, lounging, cooking etc. Whatever your most pressing need for space is, it can be taken care of by either a loft conversion or an extension. 

That extra space makes a huge difference to the comfort level of your home.

Recoup initial capital outlay 

To finance these projects, some people borrow money before the work starts. The problem is these loans often have high interest rates, which could take years to pay back.

But, there is a better option…

Remortgage after

As you already know, these works can increase your property value by up to 20%. With this increase in home value, you’ll have access to more equity for remortgaging at cheaper interest rates. 

Your monthly mortgage payment will increase slightly, but that interest rate will be a lot less than any rate you’d pay if you took out a short term loan prior to the work being carried out. 

But, it's not all roses... 

Costly

Loft conversions and home extensions can be very costly. 

They’re big projects that add real value to your property and real space to your home. That isn’t accomplished for a small fee. 

Converting your loft or extending your home are great ideas, but only if you have the budget.

Disruptive

If you’ve had even the tiniest bit of work done to your home, you know how disruptive it can be. 

As I said before, these are big projects. At times, they will be loud, messy and invasive.

This type of living constraint can create added stress to your day to day life. So it isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. 

By no means should this be a deterrent to you going ahead with your loft conversion or extension. 

Just make sure you prepare yourself for the temporary constraints you will face. But remember that keyword…

Temporary

Why a Loft Conversion is good for your home

More affordable

Loft conversions are generally cheaper than extensions. It cost you as little as £15,000 for a basic loft conversion. 

Why? 

Well, your home already has the inherent structure ready to go. That means builders don’t have to blow out walls and build new ones. 

Simple loft conversions can be internal works with minor exterior work for things like velux windows. More complicated loft conversions will require more major exterior roof works, like dormer or hip to gable conversions. 

Loft conversions are generally cheaper than extensions, because they involve a lot less exterior work. How cheap? Read on to find out...

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Quicker turnaround

Converting your loft takes less time than most extensions. On average, 6 to 8 weeks. 

A loft conversion requires less building from scratch, so it simply won’t take as long. 

There is also the added benefit of it sometimes being an internal job. They can be completed any time of the year, regardless of weather. 

That’s one less cause for schedule delays.

Easier to get permission

Getting permission for any building project can be a pain. Thankfully, most loft conversions don’t need planning permission.

There are exceptions to this, but as long as there is no structural change to the exterior or the roof, you’ll be able to go ahead with your plan. 

Your builder should be able to verify this for you.

Uses "wasted space"

Does your unfinished attic or loft look something like this? 

Loft before conversion

So does everyone else’s. 

A loft conversion makes use of this wasted space, turning it into a useful, unique room for your home. 

The sloped ceilings can make for interesting interior designs that you normally wouldn’t encounter in other parts of your house. 

The isolated location makes it the perfect space for an extra bedroom or a quiet office/study.  

Beautiful views

The unique location of your loft, atop your home, can also provide a view like no other room in your home. 

You can add dormer windows or skylights to capture the most ideal view of your surroundings.

Very possible for most homes

Unlike an extension, the possibility of a loft conversion does not depend too much on the size of your home and it’s specific dimensions. 

If you have a loft or attic in your home, you’re probably able to convert it, provided that your home has the correct height.  An easy way to check for this is to see if your neighbors have a loft conversion. 

The height from floor to apex does need to be at least 2.2 meters in order to convert your loft, but this isn’t usually an issue unless your home predates the 1930s.

What's the downside to a Loft Conversion?

Stairs

One of the main problems with the loft conversion, is it requires stairs. 

loft staircase

The conversion itself does such a great job making use of a wasted space, but then you have to stick an entire staircase in the space or room below. 

Depending on the layout of your home, you might have a hard time figuring out where to place the stairs and what kind of stairs to put in. 

This isn’t always a problem, but when you consider how much space a staircase can take up, it can be a deal breaker for some people.

Headroom

As I mentioned before, the sloping ceiling and eaves of a loft can create really unique interior layouts. 

But… they can also be a pain.

loft window with sloping ceiling

The sloping ceiling can make for a less desirable as a living space. 

It might not be too much of a problem if you use the space as an extra bedroom, but it doesn’t suit everyone.

Limited use of extra space

The really unfortunate thing about your loft space is that it is limited in what it can be used for. 

And if the space can’t be useful to you, then it’s just extra space. 

Your loft is isolated and elevated. It requires a good amount of stairs to get there, so it’s not really plausible to use it for a living room or family room. 

This is why most people opt to turn their loft into a bedroom or office.

It’s just not likely to be the centerpiece space of your home, used frequently by the family. 

So, if you’re looking to add space that can be more frequently used and more ways, a loft conversion is probably not going to be overly helpful to you. 

Loft conversions are a great idea if the extra space you need is a bedroom or an office. If you need something more? You'll want to go in another direction. Learn more here... 

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Why a Home Extension is good for your home

Endless possibilities

Home extensions provide far more possibilities for how you can add space to your home, and what you can use that space for. 

You’re working with a blank slate. If you’re working with the right experts, you’ll be able to make your extension plan completely unique and customised to your tastes and needs. 

There are also many different types of home extensions, which vary in size, layout and purpose. 

Whatever your need is for this added space, some kind of extension will be able to address it. 

There are plenty more, but here are just a few types of home extensions...

Conservatory extension

conservatory extension and patio on a brick home

Double storey rear extension

modern double storey extension on a brick home

Rear kitchen extension

single storey rear kitchen extension interior

Less internal disruption

While extensions typically take longer than loft conversions, because they involve more building, the work is often external to your main living space.

You can still probably live your normal day to day life in your home without too much disruption, until the final knock through or steel installation and final internal finishes (depending how the extension links to the main home).

What's the downside to a Home Extension?

Cost

Extensions tend to cost a lot more than loft conversions. 

The reasons are pretty obvious. It’s usually a bigger project. It requires more construction labour, which will take longer. 

The main benefit to home extensions is also a contributor to cost. They are often bespoke and tailored specifically to your needs and tastes. 

The result is that you get exactly what you dreamed of, but it comes at a higher price.

Longer build time

While building won’t be as invasive to your family home, this will take longer than a simple conversion. 

You’ll have to be prepared for the disruption to last a few months. Typically, home extensions take 12 to 16 weeks to complete.

Keep in mind that extensions deal with more scheduling delays due to weather. They also require coordinating more trades and it’s not uncommon for that to cause delays as well.  

Have that time built into your schedule.

home extension construction work

Permission can be more difficult

Permission for extensions are also not always required, but there are far more restrictions to that. 

The difficulty of getting planning permission for your extension will depend on how far out you’re building, how high up, what materials you’re using, etc. 

You’ll need to square away all of the permits to go ahead with building. Again, this process will be a lot easier if you hire tradesmen that know what they’re doing.

Takes up garden space

In the UK, garden space is treasured. 

english garden

Whether you have a small or large garden in your backyard, it can be hard to give up garden real estate to your home extension.

If you have a small garden, and you don’t want to see it disappear, an extension might not be a good idea. It will crowd your property.

Loft Conversion vs Home Extension: Which one is the one for you?

Even if you just skim through this article, you can see there are far more “pros” listed for a loft conversion than a home extension. 

Generally speaking, a loft conversion is the right choice. It’s easier, cheaper, quicker, and tends to add more value. There’s a reason a lot of people opt for this. 

But, loft conversions don’t win over home extensions outright. 

It is highly dependent on your unique circumstances and desires. 

Extensions are more difficult and have a lot more barriers to them. That’s true. 

But the fact is, they still add tangible value to your home and you can do so much more with them.

So how do you know which project is the one?

You need to ask yourself a few questions. 

Generally, a loft conversion is the right choice over a home extension. But, it's not that simple. It's highly dependent on your wants and needs. So how do you know which project is the right one for you? You need to ask yourself a few questions...

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What do you want and need?

Is it just added space of any kind? 

If so, then there’s really no reason for you to go through the extra cost, time, effort and disruption of a home extension. A loft conversion can easily add space to your home while giving you a better upside for your property value.

bedroom loft conversion

BUT, if you’re looking for more than just a spare bedroom or study?

A loft conversion just won’t be able to give you what you need. And extension is a blank page on which you can achieve your ultimate vision for your family home.

An extension can fulfil a specific need for space, like a family room or a larger kitchen. It can also fulfil a desire that a lot of people have to breathe new life into their home. 

An extension is for a grander vision.

single storey rear conversion on brick home

What do you have the budget for?

It might be a simple question of which project can you afford?

Loft conversions are more cost effective. But, they both vary in price. 

General costs for South East and South West England. 

While they can both start at a similar price, around £15,000, extensions have the potential to increase in cost pretty easily.

The general range of costs for both projects in the South of England and the average cost for a typical project are: 

Loft conversion: £15,000 to as high as £70,000

The average dormer loft conversion is usually about £30,000 to £50,000.

Home extension: £20,000 to as high as £200,000 +

The average single story home extension could be anywhere from £20,000 to £65,000.

Again, these numbers are just to give you an idea of how cheap or expensive it could be. There are so many variables that determine the cost of your project: size of your home, type of loft conversion or extension, added bathrooms, dormers, types of materials, etc. 

You’ll need to talk to a professional to get a quote specifically for your home.

Loft conversions and home extensions can both start around £15,000. But after that? Costs can differ... a lot. Find out how much these projects could cost you...

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What do you have the space for?

Size matters.

You might have a grand vision for a home extension, but it’s only possible if you have the space for it. 

A smaller property will make planning permission more of a pain, if you extend beyond the limits. 

In addition to that, if you have a small garden that you cherish, an extension might not make any sense at all and loft conversion may be the way to go. 

Space can also be a barrier for a loft conversion. If you have a low roof, a loft conversion might still be possible, but it could cost you more. 

Still unsure?

Those questions might give you a better idea, but it can still be difficult to know which one is right for you

It’s a big decision to make alone. Especially if you’re unfamiliar with all of the variables. 

Luckily, we are familiar with them. Very.

Let us help you. Tell us your vision for your home and we’ll talk you through what options will suit you best. 

Loft conversion or home extension, we’ll get you on the best path for you.

Send us a quick message and we’ll get back to you right away! 

I hope you found this useful. If you did, please don’t forget to share it!

Both a loft conversion and an extension will increase your property value and add much needed living space to your home, but which one is the best option to add value to your home? Read on...

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