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  • 07 Oct 2015


Whether your family is growing or you need more space for guests, you've arrived at that point where you need extra rooms. So the question is, do you go UP or OUT! In other words, should you convert an existing attic space, or build a whole new extension.

When considering extending your home, there may be more to consider than the amount of space required or how much value it might add to your property.

Seeing the light

For example, what will the space be used for? Is daylight a problem in the space? How does the space connect with the rest of the house?

And the biggest question of all, what can I afford and will it be value for money?

Generally speaking a loft conversion is cheaper than building an extension, but whether it's right for the purpose is another question. For example, if it's to house elderly parents, stairs might be an issue.

You also need to consider practical issues, like available headroom and staircase position.

Consider the space

The key considerations for an extension are usually available area and building position.

There is a perception that converting the loft can unbalance a house because a loft provides more bedroom space whereas an extension provides more living space. However, if you treat each room as a space, rather than a bedroom or a living area, you instantly broaden the potential for the whole house.

If you go down the road of building an extension, be very careful where you place it. Bear in mind you still need access to other areas of the house and garden, and you don't want to spoil your outlook. If space is an issue consider building a 2-storey extension to reduce the footprint of the build - if planning rules allow.

Room to move

You also need to consider light, sun, shade and natural ventilation.

If you choose the loft conversion remember it will use up space that may currently be used for storage. So ask yourself if there is stuff you can get rid of, or is there alternative storage space available.

Remember, loft conversions can be cheaper per square metre basis than conventional extensions as some of the structure is already in place.

For properties with limited gardens, a loft conversion avoids losing outside space.

It can also be useful where there are potential problems when building at ground level, such as difficult soil conditions, presence of trees, sewers etc.

And it's less likely to create problems in terms of blocking light or overshadowing adjacent properties.

What about the view? Depending on where you live, the chances are the higher you go, the better the view, and that's a big tick for a loft conversion!

It's a hard choice, isn't it, whether to go up or out? The chances are your existing home layout, locality, budget and planning laws will largely direct your decision, but it's always good to have a choice!