Appeal of loft conversions soar as property supply plummets

Stars leading to a loft conversion

According to one property supply index, published in early August 2015, the number of home owners putting their properties on the market fell by more than 13% in July.

The index, complied by online estate agent House Simple, uses data from more than 100 major towns and cities to compare monthly changes in property supply.

Nowhere was the fall in residential property supply greater than in south west England

“Any hope that sellers were finally returning to the market seems to have been a vain one for the time being,” said Alex Gosling, chief executive of House Simple, who believes the main cause for the comparative dearth of property is rising house prices.

As anyone with a growing family will appreciate, falling housing supply, coupled with soaring prices, can become a source of frustration for those people who want – or need – to move to accommodate teenagers, ‘boomerang’ children, or increasingly, elderly parents.

Several of the options for alleviating this frustration are, however, less than palatable, while others are enormously expensive.

Converting a basement, for instance, might be a viable move for a wealthy Russian oligarch based in London. Where money is no object, adding a below-floor swimming pool or additional car parking for the bullet-proof limo is a relatively straight forward matter, although most of us would be content to create another bedroom. Yet this too can be an expensive job.

Basement conversions are both messy and, even if your home has an existing cellar, should you need to create extra headroom, as is usually the case, you will need planning permission to dig down further. Homes without a basement also require planning permission before work commences.

Such conversions are also expensive. On average, digging a basement costs between £150 and £200 per square foot, while the cost of fitting out will generally run to approximately £100 a square foot.

If spending more than £65,000 to convert a 15’ x 15’ basement does not appeal to your sense of adventure or your bank manager, you could always turn the garage into living accommodation. This option is, of course, considerably less expensive than constructing a basement room, although it creates a corresponding storage headache.

Unless you’re particularly good at decluttering, space will have to be found elsewhere in the house for that long list of handy, but not-used-every-day items such as ladders, the chest freezer, DIY tools and that virtually brand new exercise bike bought last Christmas which you’ve been meaning to ride at least three times a week.

However, even assuming you can jettison these items or store them elsewhere, while converting the garage is a cheaper option than creating a basement, using the garage as living accommodation is not everyone’s cup of tea. There could come a time when you want to sell your home and, should your would-be buyer think the world of his car and not have somewhere to park it, you can kiss goodbye to your sale.

This leaves the most practical, value-adding option (more on that in the next blog): converting your loft.

Rapidly rising property prices mean that for most homeowners, improving rather than moving is, invariably, the most attractive – and most sensible – alternative.

Moreover, according to a series of reports, converting your loft is not only a considerably less messy option, it’s the one most likely to add significant value to your home.

In a survey published last year, the Nationwide Building Society concluded that a loft conversion can add up to 20% to the value of your home, while finance company GE Capital maintain that the average increase in value a property will enjoy when its loft is transformed into living space is 12%.

Yet while a loft conversion can enhance the value of your home, it also presents an opportunity to take advantage of extra light ( a smaller aperture in the roof admits the same quality of light as a larger opening on the side of the house) and create stylish additional living space.

The possibilities are endless: a converted loft can become a master bedroom and bathroom with Juliette balcony, an audio-visual entertainment suite, a games room, a home office, or, of course, self-contained bedroom space for those growing teenagers.

© Jon Pritchard Limited 2015