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International Focus: Loft-y Goals

Homebuilders in the United Kingdom are capitalizing on the growing trend of loft conversions, transforming attic space into living space. It’s one of the most popular renovation projects because of the need for extra square footage in urban areas and because of the sharp increase in property values it tends to create.

According to research by the Nationwide Building Society in Britain, a loft conversion adds 20.9% on average to the home’s value, making it a much more valuable addition than expanding vertically for an extra bedroom (+6.0%) or bathroom (+5.2%). The process often increases the home’s total square footage by 30%—without altering the home’s exterior.

In general, a loft conversion is too complex for a DIY project and a professional builder is required. One of the primary reasons is that existing attic floors are not designed to support additional static and dynamic loads of furniture and people like a typical living space. The most common solution is to install a system of rolled steel joists (RSJs) with timber joists in between them, but engineered wood manufacturers are moving quickly to provide a better alternative.

LP Building Products, for example, is now marketing its LP® SolidStart® LSL 225mm x 35mm (1.35E) as an ideal solution for loft conversions. It offers a higher shear and bearing capacity than any I-joist and many LVL alternatives. Plus, LSL requires no costly metal reinforcements on the ends, holds nails better, and is available in lengths up to 12 meters (39.4 feet).

After a loft conversion, what’s the second best way a homebuilder can increase the value of an existing home in the United Kingdom? Add a two-car garage (+14.5%). ■

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