Loft Conversions - What to Consider

A loft conversion can be a great way of making use of wasted space and is far cheaper and less stressful than moving home. Planning permission is not usually required unless you are extending or altering the roof space and it exceeds specified conditions.

However you will still be required to meet building regulations. Whether you want to create more storage space, an extra bedroom or an office, the following are a few simple guidelines to help you on your way.

  1. The first thing you will have to consider is whether your loft is actually suitable for conversion. You will need a minimum height of 2.3 metres covering at least half the floor area to make the conversion worthwhile.
  2. The two most common types of roof construction are the traditional rafter and purlin or the more modern trussed roof. The rafter and purlin design is usually easier to convert as its steep pitch allows for the headroom needed.
  3. Don`t cut corners - use professionals for the design and structural elements of your loft conversion. You don`t want to make any expensive and/ or dangerous mistakes. You can always cut costs by tackling the decoration of the loft yourself.
  4. A loft conversion can take anything from 4 to 8 weeks and can cost anything from 8,000 to upwards of 50,000 depending on the complexity of the design. It should also add value to your property so it pays to have professional, high quality work carried out.
  5. A good building team will take care of any paperwork for you and sort out skips and scaffolding. Shop around for quotes, make sure you see examples of their previous work and agree a time frame for completion in advance.
  6. Some basic things to bear in mind before you commit to the project are: insulation and ventilation; how the room will be heated and can your current boiler cope with the additional load; the best position for electrical points; soundproofing; how much natural light will there be and do you need to incorporate storage: where, for example, will you put what is already stored in the loft?
  7. Safe access to the loft is just as important as the loft conversion itself. Install a good ladder for safe and easy access. Loft ladders are usually aluminium or wooden. Aluminium are lightweight making them easy to raise and lower, can be in two or three sections to make them compact, but they can be noisy. They are usually the cheapest option. Wooden ladders are quieter, smoother and more aesthetically pleasing. If space permits, you may even want to consider permanent stairs.
  8. You will need an effective escape route in case of fire. One method is the installation of a specially designed Velux window.
  9. It is also important to inform your neighbours as to your planned loft conversion if you are in a semi-detached or terraced dwelling. If they are thinking of doing the same thing you may even benefit from working together.
  10. Don't neglect the importance of cheap home insurance as you upgrade your home. New plumbing, electrics and structural changes to your home mean you must ensure adequate insurance is in place.