We get a great many requests to view potential of Loft conversions. This type of extension has remained fairly popular since I first started designing property & is perhaps even more in demand now than ever before - especially in dense urban areas where alternative choices for that fourth bedroom are somewhat limited.
Now, popular press would have you believe that they do not add value or have limited appeal. However, that blanket broad brush, slightly disrespectful opinion does not ring true for most of our clients. So what is going on? As always, devil is in detail - detail in this respect is mainly focussed on two primary areas:
1. DESIGN and 2. DESIGN.
It's just like location, location location slogan for house values & desirability. Fortunately, planners have got to grips with a lot of loft conversions these days & they now have a great more control of schemes that a few years ago could have been built under Permitted Development. This means that they have encompassed 'good design guides' in an attempt to stamp out ugly full width box dormer that turned a beautiful victorian semi into a something that looks like a car sized packing crate trying to escape from a neighbours roof.
Conversely, many people have argued that 'chocolate box' cottage type pointy roofed dormers (as suggested by planners) are quite simply impractical & do not provide enough space for a fully functional room which in many cases is a very valid & true point. HOWEVER, life is all about compromises & choices have to be made. Fortunately, most members of public are now becoming far more 'design aware' than they ever used to be & slowly by slowly they are beginning to accept that formation of more space must not be at expense of a poor external visual impact that simply jars with whole look of locality. This type of poor dormer design can not only decrease value of your own home but that of neighbours as well.
But yet again there are exceptions. Some suburbs of London for example have a plethora of these types of loft extensions & ones that have not yet been converted look out of place. These types of areas pay more attention to internal design of living space than grotty externals - goes with environment I suppose. Also, some areas are 70's & 80's built estates where whole so called 'architect design' was for this style of flat roofed box dormer which is a commonly accepted fact for area & enjoyed by many.
So, back to my original question - Does a loft conversion or extension add value? In my opinion YES in practically all cases baring a few exceptions. Should it be my first choice of residential development if my site has surrounding ground that allows alternative solutions? Well no in my opinion unless your property is a bungalow. A loft conversion for standard 2 storey dwelling house (detached, semi or terrace) should perhaps be on 'last option' list rather than your first choice - more to do with peoples perceptions rather than anything scientific I could quote.
When we assess a loft conversions viability we run through a sort of assessment check list before we advise our clients & we always steer them towards nice looking, well balanced, recessed type of pitched roof dormers at sacrifice of some space rather than 'ugly duckling' alternative. However, like all services, many clients do not value external look as much & they insist on largest dormer possible especially if it can be constructed under sites Permitted Development allowances (no planning permission necessary) - Do we still take job? - yes of course we do its our living but our sign board never goes up during construction works.