According to research from the Alliance & Leicester, property owners in Wales and the North East are the keenest when it comes to converting roof spaces. Thirty-one per cent would like to make the most of the area tucked up in the loft, claiming this would be their home improvement of choice.
Converting the loft, or other improvements not requiring permission from local authorities, could help homeowners feeling the pinch from the credit crunch who are unwilling to move right now.
Three in 10 think converting the loft would add the most value to their home.
Their sentiments are supported by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which reckons a loft conversion can add £10,000 or more to the value of a property.
‘While it may prove too costly to upsize to a new home, converting a loft into a useable room can not only increase the size of the property, but it can add value to the price, benefiting homeowners when they eventually come to sell,’ says Mark Boyle from the Alliance & Leicester.
Philip German-Ribon from Jackson-Stops & Staff in Yeovil (01935 474066, www.jackson-stops.co.uk) is selling the Wheel House, a late 18th century former miller’s house for £515,000. The top floor has been has been converted artfully into a large sitting room with two study areas.
There is a real ‘wow factor’ about the conversion in this four-bedroom home, points out Mr German-Ribon. ‘The owners have done it well and cleverly and it is the best I have seen. They have knocked through two attic rooms, creating a very cosy sitting room where the wife has her office at one end.’
There is more evidence of people staying put and converting, helped by not having to seek planning permission to carry out such work, believes Mr German-Ribon.
‘People are scared to get planning. Yet, a good conversion can increase the value of the property by about £50,000 to £60,000.’
He says that contrasted with adding a conservatory, loft conversions ‘definitely add actual value, while a conservatory is seen as more of a luxury, adding saleability.’
Tom Tangney at Knight Frank in Kensington, west London has converted the loft space in the last few homes where he has lived with his family to extend their tenure.
‘When it came time to sell, for every pound we put in, we got two pounds back,’ he says.
Advice from Mr Tangney includes not doing the job on the cheap and do not put in a spiral staircase. Fire regulations demand two people should be able to pass on the stairs in case of a fire and spiral staircases do not suit everyone when you sell your house on.
‘If you can replicate the style of the staircase to match the style of the stairways elsewhere in the house, the new addition will look like it has always been there,’ he explains.
Spend money on good insulation, Mr Tangney, also suggests, and ‘get the neighbours on side. Sometimes, they might want to convert their lofts too and there are economies in scale.’
Other properties for sale with well-converted lofts include:
The Old Surgery, Tetbury, Gloucestershire £595,000
Studio bedroom suite with extra bedroom and a bath has been fashioned out of the loft in a restored Elizabethan townhouse. Knight Frank 01285 659771, www.knightfrank.co.uk and Butler Sherborn 01666 505105, www.butlersherborn.co.uk
Battersea Park, London £1.575 million
The top attic floor of this three-bedroom flat overlooking Battersea Park has been turned into a large double bedroom with a modern en suite. Savills 020 8877 1222, www.savills.com