• Danni Greenough

Loft Conversions - The Forgotten Room

Most of us who have attics/lofts keep them purely for storage, a dusty rarely used space that is home to Christmas decorations and old mementos that we don’t want cluttering up the house but can't yet bear to part with. We all want extra space but don't want to go through the hassle of moving, so look to maximising the space we have already. You may be surprised to know that converting your loft space may not be as expensive or daunting as you think!

Should I convert my loft?

Most houses are perfectly suitable - the minimum height you need for a loft conversion is 2.2meters; any lower and unfortunately you wouldn’t have sufficient space. Most modern homes (those built from 1950 onwards) have ample space. If your home was built before this it is unlikely that the space will be suitable (with exceptions, of course).

Regardless of your roof type a loft conversion is always possible but if your roof has trusses it may make the project a bit more expensive as extra structural support will be needed to secure the roof. Leaving the trusses will eat up precious head space and leave you with very little room to work with.

Just because you have a room that you deem large enough for your needs you need to consider the entry. Even the most compact staircases will eat up precious floor space. Unfortunately, to comply with building regulations, retractable staircases cannot be used.

Conversion types:

Roof light conversion - these are the easiest and cheapest type of conversion as it means that no structural work is needed on the property, it is simply fitting a skylight, installing a staircase and laying a floor.

Dormer conversion - dormers are only suitable for houses with a sloping roof. A dormer conversion consists of adding an extension that sticks out from the slope of the roof, and this will add not only additional headspace but floorspace too.

Hip-to-gable conversion - this type of conversion is only suitable for detached or semi-detached houses due to the fact that it needs a free sloping side roof. Hip-to gable conversions work by extending the sloping roof of the property to create a vertical wall. This can add a lot of extra floor space but also takes away the awkward sloped areas that can make it difficult to furnish your room.

Mansard conversion - these are the most expensive type of conversion as it involves the most work but will reap the biggest reward in terms of space. This type of extension runs across the whole of the house roof, changing the roof slope to almost vertical. This type of conversion will give you the largest amount of additional space compared to the others and it is suitable to be carried out on all types of property.

Will I need planning permission?

Surprisingly in most cases no - most properties are covered by something called ‘Permitted Development Rights’. The only time you would need to seek permission is if you live in a listed building or on a designated land such as a national park or an area of outstanding beauty. If you are unsure always check with a planning advisor who would be able to confirm whether or not you will need it.

If you have a property that adjoins yours, you will need to have what is called a ‘Wall Party Agreement’. This is an agreement between your neighbours to ensure that the work completed will not endanger their property. You will need to submit a summary of your proposed works called a ‘Party Wall Notice’. If they are concerned about any of your plans they are entitled to request for an independent party to survey the work, but this will be at your expense and your neighbour does have the right to turn down the proposition.

As well as planning permission there are also specific building regulations that you must adhere to, to make sure the work is safe and structurally sound. For example, you will need to install smoke alarms and a fireproof door as well as sufficient sound insulation.

Conversion ideas:

Think bigger than an additional bedroom! Once completed this would be the perfect space for a playroom, home gym, office, library or even a walk-in wardrobe. Whatever your plans are the possibilities are endless.

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