Many of us are looking to increase the options in our home by making more use of the loft, whether we simply board it over or go for a full conversion. If all you want is a boarded loft for more efficient storage, there are few restrictions. If you’re going to convert the loft into a functional room, you’ll need to follow building regulations and may need planning permission.
If you’re converting your loft into an extra bedroom, a playroom or some other room, the work will have to meet the government’s Building Regulations. It’s your responsibility to check exactly what needs to be done before the work starts, but main points are:
- The loft must be fully insulated — a no-brainer, as it’s inexpensive and will slash your heating bills.
- All doors, floors and stairs must be fireproof for at least 30 minutes.
- The room must be accessible via a fixed staircase, not a retractable ladder.
- New joists must be added if needed to support the extra floor weight.
- Similarly, if you’re adding to the roof, the walls must be sufficient to bear the weight.
- All electrical work in the conversion must be carried out by a certified electrician.
- There must be headroom of at least 2m on all escape routes.
Unlike extensions, loft conversions don’t necessarily require planning permission, unless you live in a national park, conservation area, World Heritage Site or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is subject to a number of exceptions, however. A full list can be found on the government’s Portal website, but cases requiring permission are broadly:
- If the additional space exceeds 40m3 for a terraced house or 50m3 for a detached or semi-detached house.
- If the extension is higher than the existing roof or extends outwards from the plane of the roof on the street-facing side.
- If any verandas, balconies etc. are added.
- If the extension overhangs the building’s original dimensions.
You’ll also need to set up a Party Wall Agreement with your neighbour if the extension is going to affect any adjoining wall.
It’s vital to be sure you have all this sorted out before you start, unless you want to risk having to demolish the conversion or spend more on bringing it into line with the regulations. If you approach a professional and reputable company, they’ll be able to advise you on what steps you need to take.