Choosing between a loft conversion or extension

Loft conversion or Home Extension?

With the rise in popularity of loft conversions, you may be wondering if it is better to build an extension or convert your attic space into another living level. The answer lies not only with what type and style of house that you’re working with, but also how much room already exists for these additions, as this can make a big difference when planning permission requirements are taken into account! With both projects presenting homeowners opportunities add useful extra square footage without having move house and each type of project having potential advantages and disadvantages we thought we’d put together a guide to help you understand whether a loft conversion or extension is the best option for your home.

Our Architects have come up with a list of important considerations that will help you to make the best choice for your unique living situation.

Some key points to consider are

  • What do you need the extra space for? An extra bedroom? Or perhaps more kitchen space?
  • Which project will be the best fit for your home
  • Which costs more, a loft conversion or extension?
  • Will an extension add more space?
  • Which option will add more value in the long-term
  • Which planning permission considerations do you need to take into account
  • How much will the disruption will there be from a loft conversion vs. extension?

What do you need the extra space for?

Do you need an extra bedroom? Or are you looking for a home office, playroom or extra storage space? Depending on what you need the space for, weighing up the benefits of a loft conversion vs extension should help you decide which option is right for you.

Loft Conversions can add an extra room or two to your property, whereas extensions can add an extra floor. If you need a lot of extra space, then an extension may be the better option. However, if you only need a small amount of extra space, a Loft Conversion is the better option.

Loft conversions are typically more suitable if you’re just looking for an extra bedroom or bathroom. If you need lot of extra space, then a house extension might be a better option; by extending the ground floor of your house there are fewer limits to what you can do with the extra space.

Which project will be the best fit for your home

When deciding between a loft conversion or extension, it is important to consider the type of space you need. A traditional attic can be converted into a comfortable living space with natural light and ventilation while also retaining its use as a space for storing some extra items that you just can’t quite find space for downstairs! If this sounds like something that would work well within your current home, but there isn’t quite enough room, then its time to consider an addition to the footprint of your building. An extension can solve all those problems at once – adding both increased square footage as well as accessibility without sacrificing any design features that make your home unique.

What are the costs of a home extension vs a loft conversion

When it comes to deciding whether to carry out a loft conversion or a house extension, there are many factors to consider. Cost is certainly one of the main considerations, as Loft Conversions tend to be cheaper than extensions. However, the cost of a Loft Conversion can vary depending on the level of customization that is required. For example, adding dormer windows or changing the roof structure will add to the cost. As a guide, you can expect a domer loft conversion to cost anywhere from £1000 to £1400 per square meter, extensions, on the other hand, tend to be more expensive, with a starting figure of £1500 to £2000 per square meter. If you’d like a more exact quote check out our Instant Quote Calculator which will create a bespoke quote for your requirements!

Will an extension add more space?

It’s generally accepted that a home extension will add more space than a loft conversion as you have the option of designing a multi-storey project, however this often depends on how much external land you have to work with and local planning permission restrictions also have to be considered. For those of us lucky enough to have external space to build on an extension might sound like the obvious choice, but it’s always important to weigh up the pros and cons. Building into land around a property requires planning permission and can reduce outdoor space which might be invaluable especially when raising a young family! For those with little or no spare garden space, a loft conversion may well be the only way to gain extra space internally, in-house loft conversion experts know how to really optimize your living space.

Which option will add more value in the long-term

When you invest in a loft conversion or extension, the value of your property can increase by 15-20% depending on the value and design of your existing home, so its worth doing some research to see how much this could add to an already profitable investment. Using tools like this property price checker can help you to get an idea of what other houses in your area have sold for and to compare prices before and after they had work done.

Despite loft conversions often being less expensive than extensions they can actually still add a similar increase in value to your property; the important part is choosing the right option for the unique space you are working with.

This is where a good local architect should be able to help. If you think you might move at any point in the future, creating an extra room in your loft or doing an extension could be a real game changer when it comes to selling, and an architect can give you detailed insights into which choices will add the most value to your property. For example it’s important that you don’t over-extend or carry out work which is out of keeping with your neighbours’ properties – otherwise you could find that it provides an inferior return!

Look at what a loft conversion or extension will actually give you in terms of total living area, and at the value of other properties which have already had the work done. Many buyers now want to see that there is space for them to work from home, so having versatile living options is becoming increasingly important to many buyers.

Which planning permission considerations do you need to take into account

Building an extension often requires planning permission, while loft conversions usually don’t. The main exception to this is when you’re changing the use of the Loft from storage space to living accommodation – in which case you will need planning permission. This is because it will change the use of your property, and so needs approval from your local planning department.

The good news is that most Loft conversions are considered ‘permitted developments’, which means you won’t need planning permission as long as you meet certain criteria. These include having a roof height of at least 2.5m, not extending the footprint of your property, and not making any changes to the external appearance of your home.

So do I need planning permission for a loft conversion?

If you’re unsure whether your Loft conversion will be classed as a permitted development, it’s best to speak to your local council. They will be able to tell you what you need to do in order to get planning permission, and whether or not your Loft conversion is likely to meet the criteria.

What about planning permission for an extension?

It’s actually often possible to carry out a home extension without needing to apply for planning permission, however you will need planning permission if:

  • It will extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than three metres (or by more than four metres if your house is detached).
  • It will be higher than the highest part of the original roof.
  • It will be within seven metres of any boundary.
  • It will be a two-storey extension (or more).

If any of these conditions don’t apply, you may not need planning permission – again, your local councils planning department is the best place to go if you need to find out.

How much will the disruption of a loft conversion or home extension impact your day-to-day life?

Loft conversions tend to be less disruptive than extensions, as they can be carried out with minimal disruption to your home life. Extensions often require extensive work on the foundations of your property, which can cause significant disruption. Loft conversions can usually be carried out without any need to disturb your home’s foundations.

So, which is the best option for you?

Any successful home improvement project is a case of finding the best solution for your unique requirements and, because of the apparent similarities between a loft conversion or extension, it can often be difficult to figure out which is going to be the best choice for you.

Loft conversions are great if you want to add extra space without significantly altering the appearance of your home, but if you need more than an extra room, an extension may be the better option. Extensions can provide up to 100% more space than a loft conversion, making them a great option for a growing families. However if you’re simply looking to add value to your home, a loft conversion can offer a great return on investment as they require less extensive work and can increase value by a similar amount whilst being less disruptive.

We hope this has given you an idea of the most important considerations for your next project, but if there’s anything we haven’t covered please get in touch or check out some of our case studies for a bit of inspiration!