Loft Vs Cellar Conversions – Dig down or build up?

Cellar conversion, General, Loft conversion

Sometimes we all have that feeling. The feeling of “this house isn’t quite finished”. You might have saved a bit of money for your home, you might have some ideas of what you’d like from your project… But, what shall you improve?

Home improvements are a great alternative to moving and can add significant value to your house. Extending your existing living space can often be cheaper and much less stressful than relocating.

Whether you are after additional living space, more bedrooms or a storage area, the best way to increase living space is to convert your loft or cellar. Of course getting extensive work done to your house can be very disruptive and stressful, but so can moving house – it will all be worth it in the long run.


Loft conversions
With any major home improvement work comes the need for planning permission. This can often frighten owners off. However, in compliance with the Rights of Permitted Development you do not always require planning permission for a loft or cellar conversion. This particular policy allows you to extend and alter the external appearance of your property.  In recent years authorities have relaxed the regulations in order to encourage building work to be carried out, however, it is important to note that listed buildings and properties in conservation areas may need to obtain planning permission for a conversion. If you have any uncertainty whether you need to apply for permission or not, we would recommend that you contact your Local Authority Building Control prior to work starting. If you fail to obtain the necessary permissions you could face a penalty fine and even be ordered to tear the work down.

Another helpful tip to double check is whether you are the sole owner of the existing loft or cellar space. Some leaseholders may need to acquire permission from the freeholder, landlord or property management company before they can start any work.

For those who need to get planning permission, the likelihood of it getting accepted is higher if you agree to keep it in the same style of the existing building.

The main purpose for a loft conversion is the need for an additional bedroom. This is a fairly simple task and very cost effective. It is important to work closely with your chosen builder to decipher how easy it is to incorporate your existing plumbing and heating systems into the new space. However, it is important to be realistic – allow at least 2.3 meters of ceiling height for enough headroom. The steeper the pitch of the roof the more suitable for a conversion.

Natural light is also a key consideration when planning a loft conversion. A couple of skylights can really brighten up the space. Deciding the placement of these skylights is an agreement between you and your builder.

An average price of a loft conversion can start from around £10,000 for a basic conversion and any larger more complex jobs could cost up to £30,000.

Cellar conversions
Converting a loft may be a quick and cheap option but it may not be appropriate for you or your property. For those who can’t convert their loft space, a cellar conversion may be the best option.

A basic cellar conversion can sometimes be completed in a matter of weeks. Whereas more complex cellar conversion that needs extension work can take months. If you have external access to your cellar then building materials will not need to be carried through your property.

Cellar conversions work best on semi-detached or terraced properties, that are looking for additional space. In terms of pricing, an average cost of £2,000-£2,500 per square metre for any structural building work plus fitting costs which work out around £750-800 per square metre.

A well finished loft or cellar conversion can add thousands of pounds of value to your house. Not only this, but they can change the living space you currently live in, adding significant value to you and your family.  Improve – don’t move!

For help and advice about your home improvement project contact your local Building Control team.

If you need to find a reliable builder, architect or other construction professionals browse our tradesperson directory.

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