A Beginner’s Guide to Loft Conversion

Loft conversions are popular for good reason. Besides providing valuable extra space in your home, converting your loft can significantly increase the property’s value. However, it’s neither easy nor cheap, and best results are gained from planning carefully with an architect or a specialist contractor.

Initial Planning

First of all you need to decide what kind of loft conversion you want and whether that’s going to feasible. The most important things to determine are:

• Are your foundations strong enough to take the extra weight? If not, you may need to have them underpinned, which will increase the cost.
• Do you have enough head height in your loft? If the highest point of your loft is less than 2.3m, you may need to have the roof raised or the ceiling below lowered.
• What kind of roof structure does your house have? Most pre-1960 houses have traditional framed roofs, which are relatively easy to convert. The later truss section type requires more structural input and will be more expensive.

When you know your plans, you can find out whether you need planning permission. Most loft conversions don’t, but you may need permission if you intend to raise the roof, put in dormer windows at the front, or have any ledges or balconies.

What Changes Will You Need?

It’s likely that the existing joists won’t be strong enough for your converted loft. Extra joists should be laid between load-bearing walls and kept from touching the plasterboard of the ceiling.

The staircase needs to be carefully planned. Ideally, it should follow the roof ridge, to make use of the maximum height. To meet fire regulations, it should come down into a hallway offering easy escape, not a room, and have a fire-resistant door at the top or bottom.

You’ll need windows in the converted loft for natural light, but they also play a part in the fire regulations. Any room should have at least one window that could offer an escape route. Windows can be simple skylights, which are relatively simple and don’t require planning permission, or dormer windows, which need permission if they’re at the front.

Other issues in your loft conversion may include upgrading the insulation, soundproofing the floor, installing the electrical supply and the question of what you’re going to do with your boiler or water tank. It’s certainly a lot of work, but if you plan it carefully, it’ll be worthwhile when it’s finished. Contact us if you want to know how a simpler and cheaper loft storage conversion might work in your house!