HEADFORHEI­GHTS

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

There’s noth­ing more ro­man­tic than an at­tic, nor more re­ward­ing than con­vert­ing it into an ex­tra room. With the height, you have the po­ten­tial for fab­u­lous light; views will of­ten be un­in­ter­rupted; and for those think­ing of con­vert­ing the loft in a house, it pro­vides a private place away from the scrum of the liv­ing rooms be­low. And now that it makes fi­nan­cial sense to ex­pand rather than move, more of us are mov­ing up­wards.

It makes sense. Con­vert­ing your loft can be by far the most lu­cra­tive way to adapt a prop­erty. The space is al­ready there – all you have to do is ac­cess it. The Na­tion­wide re­cently worked out that a loft of 300 square feet turned into a bed­room with en­suite bath­room, adds an av­er­age 21 per cent to the value of a house. So pop­u­lar are loft con­ver­sions that in some ar­eas of Lon­don, such as Wandsworth and Ful­ham, it is hard to find houses that haven’t al­ready ex­panded up­wards.

In Lon­don, in par­tic­u­lar, the own­ers of nar­row, Vic­to­rian ter­race houses find them ir­re­sistible. “If you in­clude stamp duty, re­moval costs, es­tate agents’ and lawyers’ fees,” says Hugo Head­lam of John D Wood in Wandsworth, “peo­ple can spend £100,000 on mov­ing house. It is bet­ter to spend £30,000 to £50,000 on con­vert­ing the loft to cre­ate an ex­tra bed­room and bath­room, or two bed­rooms and make a house that will be eas­ier to sell. The loft con­ver­sion is the eas­i­est and cheap­est way to in­crease value – even bet­ter than a new kitchen.”

Head­lam is cur­rently sell­ing a four-bed­room, end-of-ter­race house in Ravenslea Road, hop­ing for £1.15mil­lion. Its best sell­ing point is that it has a large loft (al­most 20ft by 17ft) ripe for con­ver­sion. Once con­verted, the house would prob­a­bly fetch £1.25mil­lion. “But,” says Mr Head­lam, “in a qui­eter mar­ket I would say you shouldn’t ex­pect an overnight in­crease. It is bet­ter to stay put for two years to al­low the value to ma­ture.”

Build­ing costs in other parts of the coun­try are lower. It is pos­si­ble to achieve a whole new di­men­sion to your house for be­tween £15,000 and £30,000.

Craig and Sally King live in a house with an oast – a kiln for dry­ing hops or malt – at Sheld­wich, near Faver­sham in Kent, which they re­stored sev­eral years ago.

As an af­ter­thought, Craig de­cided to con­vert the kiln roof into a room for his model rail­way col­lec­tion. “I had the trains all in boxes, col­lected over my en­tire life. I sud­denly re­alised I had this golden op­por­tu­nity – my wife had land for her horses, so why shouldn’t I have a room for my trains?” he asks. “We put in a proper stair­case and win­dows, in line with the roof.”

They were lucky be­cause this space, where hops were once hung to dry, was built so stur­dily that they didn’t need to strengthen the roof or the floor. “It was ideal. We put down a wooden tongue­and-groove floor. A lot of peo­ple who have trains put boards down in the loft but this was a proper room. This was my sanc­tu­ary.”

Craig laid down about 200ft of track on which he can run three trains at any one time.

But now, in their early six­ties, Craig and Sally have de­cided to

move (though Craig says that a new home with a train room is def­i­nitely “on the shop­ping list”). The sixbed­room house, called The Oast, comes with sta­bles, gar­dens, pad­docks and a price tag of £895,000.

“The ex­tra room could make a dif­fer­ence to any­one with an in­ter­est – it could be used as a stu­dio or a mu­sic room,” says Craig. “It cost lit­tle to do and has given me 35 years of plea­sure.”

So will the con­verted loft in­flu­ence a buyer? “A lot of peo­ple want a hobby room,” says Ed Church, who is han­dling the sale at Strutt & Parker (01227 451 123). “A room like this could be used as a sew­ing room or a cin­ema room – an idea that is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly fash­ion­able.”

The room pro­vides al­most 400 square feet of space – the same size as the draw­ing room and the mas­ter bed­room in this house, so what does it add to the cost? “Around this part of Kent, prop­erty sells at about £200 to £250 per square foot,” says Ed. “This adds around 10 per cent to the floor space so it is quite a sig­nif­i­cant area. But be­cause the prop­erty comes as a whole pack­age with sta­bles and land, it prob­a­bly hasn’t changed the value so much, as just made it more saleable.”

High as­pi­ra­tions: de­vel­oper Ur­ban Splash pulls out all the stops in its loft con­ver­sion project at Royal Wil­liam Yard, Ply­mouth, where the liv­ing area is up­stairs, us­ing to telling ef­fect the tim­ber beams and views. Sales through Marchand Petit (01752...

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