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Boost your house's value with an attic conversion

To find out how to go about refitting your attic, TheJournal.ie spoke to Wayne McNevin from ’5 Star Attics’.

WHILE MOST HOUSES come with attics – not everybody makes the best use of them.

The idea of converting an area used to store the Christmas decorations into a liveable space is a bit daunting.

But for those willing to put in the time and effort, an attic conversion could seriously improve a house’s value and create extra living space.

To find out more about how what’s involved, TheJournal.ie spoke to Wayne McNevin from Lucan-based ’5-Star Attics’. 

shutterstock_193603064 Unused attic space can be used to maximise the size of a house Source: Shutterstock/Yarygin

Can any attic be converted into a liveable space?

I would say that 90% of them can. Some of them can’t because they would be too small. But on the whole most of them can, yeah. Some can be converted into bedrooms and some into storage, you know.

How long can someone expect an attic conversion to take?

In general we would take around ten working days.

That’s not too bad.

Yeah, it’s pretty good.

Is planning permission difficult to get?

A lot of conversions are for storage, while fewer of them would be converted for bedrooms. Now, attics converted to storage – most people would use them as a bedroom, but technically it isn’t classed as an extra room (so planning permission isn’t required).

You have to have two-thirds of the floor area 8 foot high for it to comply as a bedroom – which is really impossible for most attics around Dublin.

If you want to change the structure of the back of the house – with something like a dormer, you need to put in for planning permission.

Which is getting a little bit tricky now – the rules are very strict.

So if you don’t change the shape of the roof – you’re alright?

Exactly, yeah. Then it is classified as storage. It is actually known as non-habitable quarters which means it is never classed as a living space.

Plenty of people would live there though?

Yeah, it’s like if you went to buy a three-bedroom semi-detached house and the attic was done – there is a good chance you would buy that. You would be able to use the extra space as a bedroom.

Attic conversion gif Source: TopfliteLoft via YouTube

Is it tricky to put in an conversion when a house has a hipped roof?

I actually have a hipped roof on my own house – but I’ve applied for planning permission to have it changed to an apex roof [a steeper sided roof] – because there is so much space lost on a hip. They are convertible – but the Apex is just a far better attic conversion. I actually haven’t gotten permission though –  believe it or not.

The planning end of things can be tricky, you know.

How long does it take?

It takes three months. I’ve waited my three months and they haven’t refused – but they’ve come back with an AI – which is additional information and means that they are going to refuse it unless I can come up with reasonable evidence as to why I need to change the structure of the house.

I am on a main street and they don’t want me to change the structure because it is going to look different to the rest of the houses.

It costs €1,500 to put in for permission with the architect, to commence the notice, take out a newspaper advert and you can get refused.

Would an attic conversion add value to a home?

Most definitely. You would get your money back on a resale if not more. It is kind of like having an extension on your back. You’re obviously going to get a little bit more than without the extension on the back.

What would it cost for an attic conversion?

We have a package, it would be a standard package but there are no hidden costs, and that costs €12,000. That covers everything. The architect, we give a certificate of compliance with every attic we do – whether it complies as a bedroom or as an attic converted to storage space. It is still built to the building regulations – we still have our steel girders. We still have all our fire precautions.

Our package includes plastering, installing radiators and spotlights. There are no hidden costs, unless the attic is absolutely humongous, it would then be extra.

Have things been getting better since the market began to pick up again?

I’ve only been working for myself for the past two years and I have seen a definite increase in building this year you know. I am a carpenter myself, so usually, we might do the odd fitted kitchen, or we might do wardrobes or decking or something. Since Christmas we’ve done nothing but attic conversions. It is definitely, definitely on the up.

Wayne McNevin’s top tips for converting your attic 

  • Around 90% of attics can be converted into usable space. 
  • An entire conversion can be carried out for around €12,000.
  • An application for building permission can cost as much as €1,500.
  • Conversions take around ten working days.
  • Attics can be converted into either storage or living space.

Read: These are the cheapest places in Ireland to buy a family home

Also: These are the places where the world’s super-rich really live

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