If you need more living space for an expanding family or to accommodate a place of work in your abode, then a home extension may seem like the obvious solution. However, you should also consider the benefits of a loft conversion instead. Your home may already possess all of the room you need if the space in your loft is currently under-utilised.
Far too often, attic spaces are just used to store old junk which never sees the light of day for years. Make more use of the room above you and benefit from some additional living space. What are the advantages of converting an attic compared with a home extension?
In Ireland, the rules on home extensions are reasonably straightforward, especially when compared to certain areas of continental Europe. However, there are some regulations which may prevent you from undertaking the sort of home extension you want or even from building one at all. You will encounter different rules if you want to build on the front of your home compared to the back, for example. If your home has been extended already, then you may not be allowed to add more square metres to its footprint. Alternatively, your home might be unsuited to an extension simply because of issues like access.
In such cases, you can usually conduct a loft conversion instead. Simply put, attic conversions do not mean adding any more footprint to your home. You can often convert them without seeking planning permission, especially if you are not going to officially designate the space as an extra bedroom. So long as you check what is allowed and which fire regulations will apply, you can usually get on with a converted upper storey without worrying about the sort of restrictions that apply to extensions.
If you are considering an extension, then you can do a lot worse than have a professional design put together for you by BIY because it is not just about the structural element that will be built but how it will interact with what remains of your garden. Designing an extension which does not go on to dominate your garden or cast too much shade over it is easier said than done and professional architectural design can make all the difference. Bear in mind, however, that an attic conversion project does not need to take into account any impact on your garden.
If you choose to use the upper part of your house to make an office, a playroom or even a bedroom, then the lower storey rooms can be converted to create additional living quarters instead. This means being able to augment your living space without taking away from your garden at all. Not only does this result in you being able to enjoy your garden as you currently do but it also means that your neighbour's gardens won't be so overlooked or suffer from any shade that your extension would otherwise have cast over theirs.
Converting your attic to provide additional space in your home is not necessarily cheaper than an extension. However, you don't need to go to the expense of digging foundations or building walls from scratch. As such, nearly all loft conversion projects – regardless of the particular specification of the job – are less costly to complete than extensions. It certainly makes more financial sense than moving to a larger property because a conversion will be cheaper than all the costs associated with moving – legal fees, removals costs, estate agent's cuts and so on.
Of course, there are some things to consider when pricing up a conversion. There may be insulation products that need to be bought and fitted. You might need to provide windows or skylights, depending on the design you choose. Then there might be things like radiators and plumbing that you will need to have fitted, too. That said, these costs usually also come with an extension, so the more cost-effective route is to go for a converted loft, nine times out of ten.
If you have a well-designed, practical conversion job completed on your loft, then you will make your home more attractive to would-be buyers down the line. A poorly designed conversion which means the attic only has one or two practical possibilities for its future use doesn't add as much value despite the extra space. What you need is something that suits your current needs first and foremost, of course. In addition, the conversion should be able to be adapted as your requirements change and for any future owner. That is why a good design team for the structural elements as well as the interior design is essential – two key services offered by BIY.
Done correctly, a loft conversion will add more value to your home than you spend getting it done. In fact, some homeowners have them carried out even when they don't need additional space. It is a great way of putting more of your savings into your investment in the property market without owning second or third properties with all of the attendant tax issues that go with that. If and when you come to sell your home, then it will be worth much more for the conversion project you have conducted.
There can be little doubt that extensions can be designed with a great deal of sympathy for the current architectural look of your home. That said, any new part of the building will always alter the character of it to some extent. This is not the case with the majority of conversions so long as they don't alter the roof line. Even if you opt for dormer windows which will change the character of your home, then the impact is usually less strident. Put simply, an attic/loft conversion is a low-impact way of adding extra space to your home.
Why not drop BIY a line if you are weighing up the benefits of an extension or a conversion?