In terms of home improvements, the loft conversion has been an ever-present in houses all over London for the best part of 40 years. To this day, they offer homeowners the easiest solution in adding real value to a property, and can fetch up to 20% more on the housing market if well executed. However, a poor loft conversion can actually negatively impact the value of a property, and can also compromise safety.
Luckily, the loft conversion is so synonymous with London, that most reputable renovation companies have vast experience in undertaking these projects. APT Renovation is one such company that carries out many loft conversions, particularly in Central and South West London, where converted lofts can be sighted more so than anywhere else in the capital. “As the housing crisis worsens and property prices continue to soar, we are now doing more loft conversions than ever before”, explains director, Andi Pepaj.
The issue is that many homeowners are actually content where they are in London, but need more liveable space. This is where a loft conversion can significantly change the dynamics of a household, and pave the way for new bedrooms and en-suites. With a loft conversion, a standard two-bedroom property can be transformed into a four-bedroom, which is especially ideal for growing families. They are not limited to just bedrooms though, as many people have renovated their loft into areas of relaxation, entertainment, cinema rooms and even mini office spaces.
In boroughs like Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth, Merton, Wandsworth, Kingston, Richmond, Kensington & Chelsea, nearly half of the properties have benefited from a loft conversion of some sort. Not only are they becoming more prevalent, but they are also becoming far more ambitious in design and functionality. Gone are the days of generic colour schemes and uninspiring layouts, loft conversions are now often highly refined and finished in immaculate style.
Natural light is a key feature in any loft, making it the brightest area of the house, particularly when skylight windows allow the sunshine to pour in at the first opportunity, weather permitting. Not only do Velux windows ensure privacy and look the part, they also provide a seamless transition between the interior and exterior. This abundance of brightness is a godsend for architects who are continuing to incorporate natural light into their contemporary designs.
With most other home improvements, you will not be able to stay in your home while works are ongoing. With a loft conversion however, you can avert any extra costs and inconvenience by staying put. For many loft conversions, you won’t need to get planning permission and there’s a 50m³ threshold (40m³ for terraced houses) for extending the roof space. In fact, planning permission will only be required if the loft extends outwards and creates considerable structural change to the building.
The type of loft conversion that you can get varies on a few factors like how old and what kind of property it is, the layout of the roof, building regulations and of course, your budget and personal preference. A standard interior loft conversion is easily the most straightforward as the original structure is not modified at all. Instead, the space is insulated, Velux windows are fitted in, and the redundant space is renovated into a completely habitable area. This type of conversion is perfect for lofts that already have high ceilings.
If your property has low ceilings and the floorspace is lacking, a Dormer loft conversion is a great way to boost the loft’s floor capacity as well as the head-height, as the extension is fitted in from the outside and extends vertically from the plane of a sloped roof. Dormer windows are usually fitted in to add even more roominess, as they are positioned vertically directly in the slope, adding more height. Some may consider the Dormer conversion not as pleasing on the eye as the other types, but for those craving flat walls, flat ceilings and more space, it represents the best value for money.
In the rare occasion that planning permission or a conservation area prohibits the construction of a rear Dormer, then a Mansard conversion is a viable alternative. A Mansard is generally fitted onto the rear of a property, and converts the sloped roof to 72 degrees, which is close enough to being flat. This is because councils regard this angle as technically still being a roof, rather than a wall.
For detached and semi-detached properties, a Hip-to-Gable conversion can boost space in a loft by replacing the sloped roof with a straight wall, reaching the same height as the ridge. The conversion can result in enough options to create room for a new lounge area, a place of study or a play area. If your property’s roof is sloped on both sides, then it is also possible to get a double Hip-to-Gable, resulting in double the amount of potential space.
The average price of a loft conversion is roughly £15,000 and can range from around £7,000 to £30,000, depending on the scale of the project. APT Renovation recently designed and fitted in a spectacular new loft in Racton Road, Fulham, complete with gorgeous skylight windows and a beautiful en-suite bathroom with glass elements. Courtesy of their bespoke joinery, APT were also able to craft a number of made-to-measure fixtures, including wardrobes and shelving on the walls. The client, Janice, paid less than £38,000 on the works, and the property has now seen its value increase by £94,000.
It’s worth remembering that regardless of how much more value a loft conversion adds onto a property, it will still make more financial sense rather than jumping ship and buying a new house. Because of the high quality nature of these renovations, homeowners are becoming more and more infatuated with their lofts. The loft conversion remains the most valuable and efficient way to improve the average London home, and as Andi Pepaj notes; “many people are now designating their loft as the master bedroom in the house, rather than just a room for the kids or guests”.