Extending your house – will it add value?

It seems that people extending their home pay scant thought to the effect it may have on the value, unless they are borrowing money and bump into a Bank Valuer along the way.

Nearly everyone dreaming of extra space will talk to and even hire, an architect to ensure that their plans are well designed. Then they’ll get quotes from several builders to make sure they get value for money and a quality finish. So why do they not try to find out what the finished effort will add to their house?

The assumption that additional works will increase the sale price of your house is ingrained in almost everyone, but does it stand up to inspection?

The answer is yes, no and maybe. It all depends on the type of work and the ultimate effect on the overall property.

Attic conversions

Every kid loves an attic room, its higher up, the parents never go there and the sloping ceiling gives it a tent like feel. Parents like them because it is the cheapest way to add another room to an average house, Sadly Irish houses were regularly built with small attics. The wonderful people in planning departments throughout the country decided to ignore this when they were creating Building Regulations so they made rules that make it impossible to obtain planning permission to convert your average attic to a habitable room.

Now most builders will tell you that you don’t need planning permission to convert an attic, but that is leaving out a bit of the truth. You don’t need permission if you are using it as a store and you are not changing the roofline, you definitely need permission if you want to turn it into a bedroom or “habitable room” as the planners call it.

These days if you want planning permission for works those works must comply with current building regulations, otherwise permission is refused. The planners insist that your new attic room has a minimum ceiling height, and area over said height, it needs a decent sized window, a fire door, a small landing outside the fire door, and finally a proper stairs from the first floor up.

So back to the question, if I convert my attic will it add money to my house?

Yes

If you get full planning permission for change of use from an attic to a bedroom.
If you carry out all the work to a high standard, comply with your planning permission and observer all the building regulations. You also need to get the work certified from start to finish by an architect/engineer/surveyor. This will turn a 3 bed house into a 4 bed house adding at least 10% to the value on completion. With typical attic conversion starting at €15,000 it can add profit and space to your home.

No

If you squeeze a narrow stairs with short high steps on to your landing leading directly into an open attic space that forces a short adult to stoop as they walk across it then the answer is no, this will not add value to your home. It can even make it harder to heat the house as you are now heating the open space above the landing too. If you ever go to sell, your home may be inspected by a Bank Valuer and by a surveyor, either of whom may say unkind things about your attic efforts to the buyer, thus potentially causing your sale to fall through.

Maybe

Somewhere between yes and no above are a broad range of attic conversions that can add value but they each must be judged on their merits. All buyers like an attic bedroom, but they LOVE an attic bedroom with a bathroom, nobody wants to go downstairs at night to use the loo, an ensuite on your attic bedroom is the bees knees, even if the planning permission is not in order. We have found that buyers are far more inclined to overlook the paperwork or negative remarks from their surveyor if the attic bedroom has its very own swanky ensuite.

So if you are thinking of converting your attic, by all means talk to an architect. When you have learnt the limits of your capacity to convert, talk to your local estate agent and find out if your money would be better spend elsewhere.

Finally, if you have to sacrifice your third bedroom to make space for the stairs to your new attic bedroom, think hard. Adding the attic bedroom to your house increases the value by 10%. Take away the third albeit smallest bedroom in the house, value falls by up to 10%. So you may end up with a nice bigger better bedroom, but no one will pay you for it when you sell.

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