One of the toughest decisions you may have to make as a homeowner is what to do when you run out of space.
Perhaps your house was perfect for you when you brought it! But now, you have a family and suddenly it doesn’t feel so spacious anymore. Or maybe you’ve started a new business and need a spare room for an office.
It’s frustrating trying to find workarounds. Sure, you can keep moving your furniture around but something will need to give eventually. Something needs to change.
Moving home is usually the first main solution we think about. It’s the most obvious and in many cases can immediately solve our problems. Doing so is usually a strain on time and money. An alternative to this could be to invest in a loft conversion.
A loft conversion can take the stress out of finding a new home whilst providing you with more space to work with. However, it can’t solve every problem and sometimes, moving home is unavoidable.
Before making a big decision, understanding the benefits and potential drawbacks of each can help. Let’s compare the two.
Benefits of a loft conversion
Loft conversions add much more than an extra room for space. It involved expanding upwards, instead of out.
Fortunately, most lofts can be converted. Minimum head height of 2m is required, but work can be done to make that possible.
Planning permission is not normally needed unless you are planning to have additional work done. It is always recommended to communicate with a loft conversion company to make sure everything is correct.
When communicating with a loft conversion company, it’s also useful to look at the options you have regarding the types of conversions available.
For example, Dulwich Lofts offer 3 types:
Allowing you to decide whether you want something more specialised or simply more room. Hip-to-gable also provides a means to convert difficult roofs.
These are some other notable benefits to a conversion.
A Cheaper Alternative
Converting your loft to gain extra storage and/or living space is a cost-efficient way of solving the main problem.
Compare this with the costs associated with moving into a larger home and you can already see the savings.
That being said, a loft conversion can range anywhere from £10k up to £60k depending on the changes made and whether an en-suite is required.
The same House
Many of us become attached to our homes. We decorate it and add our flavour, showcasing who we are and what we love.
Perhaps it is a home you have inherited or holds some significance. Moving away from it is just something that you can’t see yourself doing. Yet, the problem of space is still there regardless.
A loft conversion can provide that much needed, customizable space whilst ensuring that what you love about your home stays intact. Unlike an extension, it doesn’t require you to sacrifice garden space either.
This allows you to keep your home for future generations by simply improving upon it.
Increased home value
If, however, you aren’t looking to keep the house for sentimental value, a loft conversion can add between 20-25% value to its market price.
Why is this important?
For those less attached to their home, a loft conversion can be a temporary solution to your problem.
You gain temporary space and improve the value at the same time. If you plan on making a move in the future, this could be an effective way of having the best of both worlds.
Allowing you to sell the property for more and be comfortable until you decide to do so.
Retain more heat
Did you know, on average, a home loses roughly 25% of its heat through the roof?
A loft will need to be insulated during conversion. This involves adding insulation between the walls, ceilings and floors. Not only does this create a warm space for you to do your work and/or live in, but it also saves on your heating bills.
An often overlooked benefit but we all notice a cold house.
Let’s be honest, we don’t like when things get in our way. Even if that means packing things up and moving them to a new location.
Moving homes is a big inconvenience for everyone, especially if you have a family. It can even be one of the most stressful events we face.
A loft conversion is typically less disruptive than the alternatives. Unlike an extension, the work is isolated to one location of your house.
Any dust, mess, sharp tools or splinters are kept away from the family and contained to the loft itself.
Being able to continue your work unimpeded whilst progress is being made on the conversion can be invaluable for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.
Benefits of Moving Home
Whilst it is easy to compare each option from a monetary standpoint, the right mindset is needed to make a concrete decision.
Choosing a loft conversion because it’s cheaper may lead to more issues in the future.
Working on your own home is a dream for many. Shaping the interior and building it up as you grow yourself. Yet, adding a small amount of space may not be what you need.
Understanding your situation is paramount. A loft conversion might give you temporary respite from the problem but if you know that you are going to need additional space in the future, the problem is never really solved.
You could be wanting another child. If so, more space will be needed in the future. Maybe you’re planning on starting a side business and need to house inventory to which a loft conversion will only take you so far.
Considering future problems is usually better than tunnel-visioning on the one right in front of you or else you could be paying for a loft conversion only to move house in a year.
That could work for those looking to sell property but is a big time sink for families.
A fresh start
A fresh start is a powerful thing. It helps us feel grounded and certain about our direction in life.
Moving home shouldn’t feel any different.
It’s a chance to become part of a new community and start your life in a different location. This is also an important consideration for families.
If you brought a home in a not so friendly neighborhood when you were focusing on your career, perhaps it’s not the best place to raise a family.
Likewise, the problem of more space could be the perfect reasoning for you to move closer to work. Saving you money on travel whilst solving the core problem.
Other external problems can be solved with a change of scenery too.
Things to consider
Whilst the benefits of both options are clear cut, some things need to be thought through before you dive in.
Not all homes are designed for a loft conversion. That is, the access point to the loft is nearly non-existent.
Homes are designed with the plot size in mind. If you don’t currently have a loft room, it usually means it wasn’t built for one.
Realistically speaking, how much room is there for a stair way up? If that’s not a possibility, a spiral staircase could be implemented. These would likely look out of place and could be a potential safety hazard for young children.
If there is no plausible way to reach the loft, other work may need to be done to ensure a safe route. If so, planning permission could be needed and that opens up a new can of problems and time constraints.
Finally, is the conversion going to solve the problem? We touched upon this in the home benefits briefly.
If you need considerably more space than is currently available, is a loft conversion going to cover everything you need?
It’s rare that a compromise works long-term. What’s more frustrating is when a compromise quickly becomes a problem again.
This can cause family upset and spark arguments. Before deciding on a conversion make sure that it is 100% going to be the right solution.
Moving home is a fresh start, as we’ve covered. Yet, a fresh start also means multiple elements to consider.
Not just for you but your kids too.
A new house potentially means finding a new school for your children and going through the process to ensure they can enlist when you move in.
It can also influence travel, public transport times and schedules.
If you are someone that heavily relies on public transport to get to work then these need to be available when you need them.
It’s also best to keep in mind the process that is required to sell your current home and move somewhere new. Including property availability, agencies and so on.
Which is right for you?
Only you can decide which is the best option for your current situation. A loft conversion will usually cover everything it needs to and provide ample storage for those in need of more space.
That being said, sometimes the requirements aren’t solved by a conversion alone. If there is a need for considerable space, an extension might be the next option.
At that point, it’s worth considering whether a new house to call home is what you really need.