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Attic conversion - extending my mortgage


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#1 Dadto2

Posted 08 August 2019 - 10:58 AM

I can't afford a higher mortgage at all, so the thought of extending it has me breaking out in hives! However I have a huge attic space, perfect for converting into a largish room - 29sqm.  It would definitely add value to the house, my house is single story in a small cul-de-sac of mostly large double-storey houses, so the cheapest house in the street.

It's going to cost me between $30k and $50k, Not sure how much that works out to be a month extra, but I seem to remember it was around $150 - $200. I can't afford that, but I've made a few cutbacks and reduced my monthly bills by $250. Stupid question I guess, but now I have $250 extra, extending the mortgage makes sense?

#2 Bereckii

Posted 08 August 2019 - 11:15 AM

What is the reason for the extension?

To add value to the house?

Is the space needed for a specific purpose? Is it essential now, or can you make do with the space you have for the moment?

#3 molinero

Posted 08 August 2019 - 11:17 AM

Have you spoken to your bank or a broker about this? Remember the banks have tightened the reins and it can be harder to get finance these days. Ideally you should get a few months behind you first of saving that $250 or putting it into your current mortgage offset as an extra payment to demonstrate how you could do this. Banks like evidence like that.

Remember, interest rates are low for now but that could change. In 5 years time, should your mortgage repayments go up, could you still afford this?

Other things to think about:

- Are these conversion works something that you need to do now, or could it wait a few more years until you have paid down more of your current mortgage?

- Have you checked if there are any funny legal or planning controls you need to circumvent to convert this attic into a habitable space? Could this influence your overall costs?

#4 born.a.girl

Posted 08 August 2019 - 11:19 AM

What would you use the space for?


Paying extra to add value to a house really only makes sense if you're going to use it yourself.

If you're doing it just to add value, you might as well do it just before you sell, and generally the advice is not to do something like that just to sell.

#5 Dadto2

Posted 08 August 2019 - 11:21 AM

View PostBereckii, on 08 August 2019 - 11:15 AM, said:

Is it essential now, or can you make
do with the space you have for the moment?

View Postmolinero, on 08 August 2019 - 11:17 AM, said:



- Are these conversion works something that you need to do now, or could it wait a few more years until you have paid down more of your current mortgage?



No can definitely wait. It would be as a rumpus room for the kids, but the space is not needed at all. Mostly to add value to the house and have a "cool" area for kids.

View Postborn.a.girl, on 08 August 2019 - 11:19 AM, said:

What would you use the space for?


Paying extra to add value to a house really only makes sense if you're going to use it yourself.

If you're doing it just to add value, you might as well do it just before you sell, and generally the advice is not to do something like that just to sell.

Yeah good point.

#6 molinero

Posted 08 August 2019 - 11:25 AM

That depends though, Born a Girl. We are selling our current property atm and we had a room which was bedroom sized but sold to us off the plan as a study (i.e. it had no door on it).

It was cheap and easy to get the door put on the room, and now we can advertise the property as having an extra bedroom compared to when we bought it. There is obviously significant payoff to us in doing this.

But you raise a good point, and I am now curious to know what the $30-50k budget would need to be spent on to refit this attic space. It does sound like a lot of money for one room. I assume new stairwell?

#7 Dadto2

Posted 08 August 2019 - 11:29 AM

The other option is to do it myself, over time using whatever professionals I need as I go e.g structural engineers, electricians etc

It's a large project, much bigger and more complex than anything I've done, but I'm capable of doing the bulk of the work. I work in IT, I'm not a chippy, but have been tinkering arounfd with DIY projects for a few years. What I lack in ability I make for it with being methodical and thorough. So stuff takes me a while, but I get it done right. I'm not sure how much of the attic I can do, but I know there are some aspects of the job that I'm capable of doing,

It's a little bit more complicated in WA than other states and countries, in that the flooring needs to be certified by a structural engineer in order for it to be a habitable space. Having a company do it, means they take of all that stuff and they're much more savvy of how to get it streamlined through council. That kind of stuff would be a PITA for me. But total cost of the project would probably be around $15 - $20k as opposed to $40 - $50k.

*note I know my limitations, not afraid to admit I can't do something!

Edited by Dadto2, 08 August 2019 - 11:34 AM.


#8 Dadto2

Posted 08 August 2019 - 11:33 AM

View Postmolinero, on 08 August 2019 - 11:25 AM, said:

But you raise a good point, and I am now curious to know what the $30-50k budget would need to be spent on to refit this attic space. It does sound like a lot of money for one room. I assume new stairwell?

To convert the area into a heavy storage space of around 15sqm which includes floor and dust-proof soft "walls". Is around $10k and that would be with a ladder. Cost goes up when making it a living space and includes:

- drawings
- structural engineers report
- 2 x Velux windows (around $3k)
- Staircase ($1500 - $2k) needs to be a stair case not ladder
- ventilation
- electrical work
- lighting
- gyprock walls

And it's a large room. The kids bedrooms are 12sqm, this room would be 28sqm.

Edited by Dadto2, 08 August 2019 - 11:35 AM.


#9 molinero

Posted 08 August 2019 - 11:37 AM

Hmm. Well it sounds like you do have some options. The engineering certified floor makes sense. You'll also probably need a building certifier to sign off the works as satisfying the Building Code of Australia.

Have you gone through the initial motions of getting your house valued by a realtor, and discussing this option with them to see if it would add adequate value to the property? If you are going to add one large habitable room and sell the place in another three years, for example, you may only just break even (or you could even lose money).

View PostDadto2, on 08 August 2019 - 11:33 AM, said:

To convert the area into a heavy storage space of around 15sqm which includes floor and dust-proof soft "walls". Is around $10k and that would be with a ladder. Cost goes up when making it a living space and includes:

- drawings
- structural engineers report
- 2 x Velux windows (around $3k)
- Staircase ($1500 - $2k) needs to be a stair case not ladder
- ventilation
- electrical work
- lighting
- gyprock walls

And it's a large room. The kids bedrooms are 12sqm, this room would be 28sqm.

Fair enough. That is a really substantial job.

#10 born.a.girl

Posted 08 August 2019 - 11:40 AM

View Postmolinero, on 08 August 2019 - 11:25 AM, said:

That depends though, Born a Girl. We are selling our current property atm and we had a room which was bedroom sized but sold to us off the plan as a study (i.e. it had no door on it).

It was cheap and easy to get the door put on the room, and now we can advertise the property as having an extra bedroom compared to when we bought it. There is obviously significant payoff to us in doing this.

But you raise a good point, and I am now curious to know what the $30-50k budget would need to be spent on to refit this attic space. It does sound like a lot of money for one room. I assume new stairwell?


Yes, small things for sure.  We cleared out all the stuff from my PIL study so it could appear to be able to be used as a small third bedroom, a lot of time and effort to do that and set it up differently.

Same with fixing some kitchen and bathroom issues so that those who don't want to do any work don't walk away.

$50k though?  For a house that the next buyer might want to turn into a two story house - that's the point about not doing dramatic stuff - attract one buyer, lose another.

#11 born.a.girl

Posted 08 August 2019 - 11:45 AM

View PostDadto2, on 08 August 2019 - 11:33 AM, said:

To convert the area into a heavy storage space of around 15sqm which includes floor and dust-proof soft "walls". Is around $10k and that would be with a ladder. Cost goes up when making it a living space and includes:

- drawings
- structural engineers report
- 2 x Velux windows (around $3k)
- Staircase ($1500 - $2k) needs to be a stair case not ladder
- ventilation
- electrical work
- lighting
- gyprock walls

And it's a large room. The kids bedrooms are 12sqm, this room would be 28sqm.

That sounds about right, ours was about half that for a smaller space, but a good ladder (sister had experience with the cheaper ladder, and the ceiling there is 9ft).

The difference it making it a habitable room was staggering.


I must say it's an amazing space. We have a buffet up there which has all the stuff we don't use very often in it; a filing cabinet; all of the suitcases; Christmas tree and decoration; stuff from our daughter's childhood that's great when small kids are here - doll's house etc; all the extra chairs we don't need unless we have visitors.

The difference it's made within the house is fantastic.

#12 molinero

Posted 08 August 2019 - 11:46 AM

I think that's true Born a Girl. As the OP has already mentioned, the house is the 'smallest' property on the street and for all we know, a potential buyer in a decade's time might want to KDRB and put up a small townhouse development.

OP, I definitely recommend you get a proper valuation done including some guidance on the cost-benefit of these improvements as it is a big commitment.

#13 Dadto2

Posted 08 August 2019 - 11:57 AM

View Postmolinero, on 08 August 2019 - 11:46 AM, said:


OP, I definitely recommend you get a proper valuation done including some guidance on the cost-benefit of these improvements as it is a big commitment.

Yup good idea.

I did get it pretty cheap as it was really run down and I've spend the last year renovating it. I would imagine it's gone up, but who knows. It was almost unsellable before!

#14 Mollycoddle

Posted 08 August 2019 - 12:02 PM

View Postmolinero, on 08 August 2019 - 11:25 AM, said:

It was cheap and easy to get the door put on the room, and now we can advertise the property as having an extra bedroom compared to when we bought it. There is obviously significant payoff to us in doing this.


I'm surprised you've been allowed to advertise it that way.  A neighbour of ours has a converted garage but when they bought the place it still had to be listed as a 2-bedroom instead of a 3-bedroom.  Obviously anyone who actually viewed the place could see what the space was being used for.  I don't know if the eventual price was impacted by the fact that on the plan it was still considered to be a 2-bedroom and not a 3.

Edited by Mollycoddle, 08 August 2019 - 12:04 PM.


#15 Dianalynch

Posted 08 August 2019 - 12:02 PM

I’d throw as much as you can into the offset account for the next 6 months and then revisit it.

#16 molinero

Posted 08 August 2019 - 12:12 PM

View PostMollycoddle, on 08 August 2019 - 12:02 PM, said:

I'm surprised you've been allowed to advertise it that way.  A neighbour of ours has a converted garage but when they bought the place it still had to be listed as a 2-bedroom instead of a 3-bedroom.  Obviously anyone who actually viewed the place could see what the space was being used for.  I don't know if the eventual price was impacted by the fact that on the plan it was still considered to be a 2-bedroom and not a 3.

Garage is different to a room that is already existing within a house. We got all the relevant approvals that we needed anyway.

#17 Dadto2

Posted 08 August 2019 - 12:14 PM

View PostMollycoddle, on 08 August 2019 - 12:02 PM, said:

I'm surprised you've been allowed to advertise it that way.  A neighbour of ours has a converted garage but when they bought the place it still had to be listed as a 2-bedroom instead of a 3-bedroom.  Obviously anyone who actually viewed the place could see what the space was being used for.  I don't know if the eventual price was impacted by the fact that on the plan it was still considered to be a 2-bedroom and not a 3.

Garage would be different. Basically a room has to have specific criteria to be classed as a regular living space and that includes a door. A study without a door can never be classified as a bedroom. Whack a door on it and it'd be a bedroom. Garages don't have ventilation, insulation windows etc Similarly with an attic. Cheap to put in a floor and walls, but needs a lot of other stuff in order for it to be sold as a bedroom.

Edited by Dadto2, 08 August 2019 - 12:14 PM.


#18 born.a.girl

Posted 08 August 2019 - 12:57 PM

View PostDadto2, on 08 August 2019 - 12:14 PM, said:

Garage would be different. Basically a room has to have specific criteria to be classed as a regular living space and that includes a door. A study without a door can never be classified as a bedroom. Whack a door on it and it'd be a bedroom. Garages don't have ventilation, insulation windows etc Similarly with an attic. Cheap to put in a floor and walls, but needs a lot of other stuff in order for it to be sold as a bedroom.

Plus, for us to continue our attick through to the back of the house, which was part of the original plan (a habitable room), it would have been breaking into asbestos.  Urk.  Plus structural work.  As it is it's a different shape from that quoted, because the guy who came to do the work discussed the structural issues and the way it's done is cost vs benefit.  Got to be careful not to hit your head though!

Edited by born.a.girl, 08 August 2019 - 12:57 PM.


#19 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 08 August 2019 - 12:58 PM

If you can’t afford it you can’t afford it. End of story.

It might be the greatest investment in the world, but who cares if you can’t afford your bills? Save your money, put your recent extra savings into something else like paying down debt or an emergency fund or paying off your current mortgage.

Besides, investing in your home only realises itself if you’re going to sell it, if you’re going to live in it, then the value of your home is kinda irrelevant.

#20 JomoMum

Posted 08 August 2019 - 01:12 PM

View PostDadto2, on 08 August 2019 - 10:58 AM, said:

I can't afford a higher mortgage at all

That would be the deciding factor for me.

#21 Dadto2

Posted 08 August 2019 - 01:29 PM

View PostJomoMum, on 08 August 2019 - 01:12 PM, said:

That would be the deciding factor for me.

I reduced my bills which means I now can. It's just intimidating increasing your mortgage.

Edited by Dadto2, 08 August 2019 - 01:33 PM.


#22 TinyGiraffe

Posted 08 August 2019 - 01:41 PM

Really look into the ceiling heights for it to get through council as habitable space. From memory in WA you need over 2/3rds to be at 2.2m finished ceiling height to get it through. Depending on the shape of your house, if you go too close to where the pitch lowers it can really affect the ratio which may reduce the sqm you can actually convert.

ETA - Hopefully that makes sense.

Edited by TinyGiraffe, 08 August 2019 - 01:42 PM.


#23 JomoMum

Posted 08 August 2019 - 01:45 PM

View PostDadto2, on 08 August 2019 - 01:29 PM, said:



I reduced my bills which means I now can. It's just intimidating increasing your mortgage.

Appreciate that. I’m not a spender, so I’d be putting that on my offset and not going into further debt straight away.

#24 Beancat

Posted 08 August 2019 - 02:05 PM

View PostDadto2, on 08 August 2019 - 12:14 PM, said:

Garage would be different. Basically a room has to have specific criteria to be classed as a regular living space and that includes a door. A study without a door can never be classified as a bedroom. Whack a door on it and it'd be a bedroom. Garages don't have ventilation, insulation windows etc Similarly with an attic. Cheap to put in a floor and walls, but needs a lot of other stuff in order for it to be sold as a bedroom.

Can a study be a bedroom if it has a door but no wardrobe?  Im just thinking is our place a 4 or 5 bed house.  The study is 4m by 3.5m so a good size

#25 born.a.girl

Posted 08 August 2019 - 02:09 PM

View PostBeancat, on 08 August 2019 - 02:05 PM, said:

Can a study be a bedroom if it has a door but no wardrobe?  Im just thinking is our place a 4 or 5 bed house.  The study is 4m by 3.5m so a good size


Once upon a time, no bedrooms had wardrobes in them.  Only one of ours now does because we had them built in. Didn't want them built in in another one because it's 'officially' the dining room and the next person may prefer it that way without alternations.

Most people seem to want 4 plus study though, rather than 5 x bedrooms no study.




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