• Warren Livesey

Grow and Go Up With A Roof Level Conversion

Updated: May 3

What do you do when you need more space in your top-floor apartment, you don’t want to move, and due to restrictions such as budget, you feel like you don’t have any options? The solution is literally right above your head!



Did you know? Many top-floor apartments have up between 50 - 100 per cent of their total floor area hovering above in the roof space?


Hang on! Are people still renovating during these difficult times?


Times might be tough and people are watching what they’re spending but take a look around, and you will see renovations and building work on almost every second street!

Drive through the east, inner-city and inner-west of Sydney, for example, you’ll see building sites, including apartment blocks, that are a hive of activity.


There are several factors driving this.


For example, when property prices are high, many upgraders think, “I can’t afford to buy a bigger property, so I’ll renovate my apartment… Transaction costs are high, so I’ll avoid those and upgrade what I already have.”


Depending on the apartment owner’s situation, selling during tough times may mean also taking a loss on their property, so there is more motivation to find a way to build the extra room.


So even though the experts may be telling us it makes better financial sense to upgrade to a different house or apartment in the current market – because the bigger property may be discounted – that’s often falling on deaf ears.


When an attic is not an attic but a whole roof conversion!


Mention the phrase “attic conversion” and many people would imagine a pull-down ladder, leading to an additional bedroom with a hip roof and skylights. Not the most practical space, would you agree?


But times have changed, and now a roof conversion can add an entire second level, with wide open, practical space with several bedrooms and even a bathroom. Gone are the pull-down ladders and now the new floor is accessed by a staircase.



This has become particularly popular in Sydney’s east and inner west, where land space is tight.

The beauty of such conversions for top-floor apartment owners who successfully buy roof space is that they are able to not only add extra rooms but also secure views.


A lot of people are trying to add value and there is a lot of value in a / roof conversion, particularly if it has a bathroom.


So, what potential value could I add to my property?


The cost of adding an entire upper level to your top floor apartment can range on average from $100,000 to $200,000.


Whilst this is a large investment, you can usually double your money by going up, particularly if you manage to incorporate two bedrooms.


For example, in the eastern suburbs, if you look at a block of apartments with both two- and three-bedders, you normally find the three-bedders are valued at about $150,000 to $200,000 more than the two-bedders.


So, if you add two bedrooms for around $100,000, you are making these rooms for roughly $50,000 each. The more rooms you add, the more value you are able to create, as the fixed costs (such as establishment costs) remain the same, regardless of how many rooms you add.


Recently, Next Level helped the owner of a top-floor Bondi apartment. We added an entire new level to their apartment by building a parents’ retreat and ocean views. It cost about $150,000 and we estimate it increased the unit’s value by twice that amount.



Caution: It is extremely important not to overcapitalise if you do want to on-sell and make money, especially in the current market.


There is a balancing act between quality and thrift. When you have a dodgy renovation, buyers can tell. Whereas quality will always sell.


Look at what the end result is likely to sell for in your street and see if the figures stack up.

As a general rule of thumb, a high-quality, well-designed conversion will pay dividends.

Sounds great! What are the next steps?


The first step is to explore in detail the relevant council control policies. They can be complex and restrictive.


In Waverley, for example, if someone does a roof conversion on one side, the other side will have to be done so that the building matches.


In Paddington council area, it is tougher, as you can only do a Victorian dormer because they want to maintain the heritage character. In the Eastern suburbs, it is mixed; you can generally do large dormers across the whole back to raise the roof.


Keep in mind: It can take up to a year or so to submit a development approval and get a result from the local council.


Going into the roof of a top-floor apartment is another story, as it involves getting owners corporation approval and, usually, you have to pay for the use of the roof space into the sinking fund.


At Next Level, we can help you get approval through the body corporate for exclusive use of the roof space. This involves writing a bylaw. Sometimes this process can be easier than expected; however, it can also become a complex process to navigate.


Top Tip: Always do your own research to assess potential obstacles and whether they are surmountable and affordable.


Have questions about a roof level conversion?


If you would like to explore the possibility of adding an entire second floor to your top-floor apartment, contact Warren Livesey for an obligation-free chat on 0415 254 420 or warren@nextlevelsydney.com.au. Warren can assist with everything from design to construction, using his vast knowledge and 20+ years of experience. #buyairspace




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