Loft conversions are extensive projects that require a number of different trades to complete certain aspects of the build. The vast majority of homeowners seek loft conversion specialists who are able to project manage the whole build from start to finish, including sorting our all the necessary permissions with the Local Authority, for a stress free loft conversion solution. Some home owners prefer to pick and choose who completes each aspect of the build and therefore would project manage everything themselves, potentially saving a few thousand on the way. We highlight some of the key areas that will need addressing.
Their main role is to design the loft conversion from inside and outside the property. It is important you choose an architect that has a high attention to detail as possible due to the fact that if they get the measurements wrong, or don't add important structural items such as a supporting wall, it could cause problems further down the line.
The structural engineer / surveyors job is to stress test the architect’s design to ensure structurally it is possible, and there are no issues which would cause the loft conversion to be unsafe once built. You would want to make sure you are dealing with a reputable company when choosing your surveyor.
After receiving the necessary permissions (if required) from the Local Authority, employing the right builders to implement the designs and plans is important. You want to ensure you are dealing with tradesmen who have had experience building loft conversions and have completed previous jobs in the area recently.
Once your loft structure has been built by the builders you will need to find a plasterer who will finish the internal structure with smooth walls. Finding a good plasterer shouldn't be much hassle as there are a number of companies that are able to do that in most areas.
Electricians / Plumbers
Electricians and plumbers are the last piece of the puzzle. It is important to work with companies that have the right accreditation and a team that are experience with loft conversions as they bring their own complications.
Learn more about loft extensions
How long does a loft conversion take to build?
Once you have your plans in place and the necessary approvals from the Local Authority, making sure you have the right loft conversion builders will be the most important choice for you to make to ensure your dream is turned into the right reality. Our suggestion is that you choose a builder who are specialists in loft conversions as they will be experts in project managing and finding the right contractors for each stage of the build. Remember, the shape of the loft conversion is one thing, you still also need to consider the electrics, any plumbing work and/or decorating.
The easiest way to judge the credentials of the prospective loft conversion specialist is from some of he work they have completed recently. An specialist worth their salt will have a portfolio of work which they have completed for clients in the area. If they are unable to provide this, you should consider finding someone else.
Connected to the “previous work” - reviews are an important aspect in judging the credentials of your loft conversion specialists. Of course the higher the reviews the better, but also you must be careful with immediately discrediting specialists who have one or two bad reviews. When meeting the prospective conversion specialist, it would be beneficial if you could ask them what the issue was and how/if it was resolved. Ultimately, as these projects are expensive you want to make sure you are dealing with credible tradesmen who are able to tackle problems that arise successfully.
Naturally, as consumers, we want to go for the cheapest option. Sometimes this make sense, for commoditised items such as fruits and vegetables. With loft conversions, sometimes cheapest doesn't mean the best. A good litmus test is if you were able to get three quotes and one of the quotes was 20% cheaper than the other two, this looks suspect and alarm bells should be ringing! It is important that you recieve a line by line itemised list of cost including labour and VAT where appropriate, so you are able to compare your quotes with more confidence.
Find out more about loft conversions
Self project manage a loft conversion?
Generally, homeowners seek to get their loft extended for two main reasons. The first is to increase the usable space in their property, which generally is cheaper than buying a new house with more space. The second is the hope that having a loft conversion could increase the price of the property if the homeowners is looking to raise extra funds to move to a new home/area, especially if an extra bedroom is installed.
How much value?
The question on everyone’s mind is how much value your loft conversion could add to your property. Of course, there is no hard fast rule that states if you add an extra bedroom or bathroom, the value of your house will increase by a set amount. Added to this, the complexity of where you are situated in the country. Loft conversions in London will added more value in pound terms compared to loft conversions in Burley for example. As a percentage a Burley loft conversion might add more value than a london loft conversion.
A study from the Nationwide Building Society calculated that a loft conversion could increase the value of your property by approximately 20%. This is based on the average house price in 2016 and includes the loft conversion being used as an extra bedroom with sufficient space and also has an ensuite. In reality, the amount will vary considerably on the use of the loft conversion, fitting and fixtures, finish, location and overall appeal of the area.
Is it guaranteed to add value?
The short answer is no. Although a loft conversion adds additional usable space to your property, there is no guarantee the value of your house will increase by more than you spend on the extension. Therefore it is also important to consider if the amount you are paying for your conversion is a realistic number to also add to the value of your property.
For those who aren't looking to sell the property, this should not be a concern.
BS1 Loft Conversions
Choosing the right loft conversion builders
The mansard loft conversion takes its name from a French architect, Francois Mansard who was prominent in the 17th Century. Unlike other types of attic makeover, this one is generally constructed to the rear of your property. There are a number of other elements that set a Mansard apart from standard loft conversions.
There is only one of roof that is available with a Mansard, and it's a flat roof. However, it does feature a back wall which has to slope at a 72 degree angle
Most loft conversions don't require any planning permission unless the are 40 cubic metres in a terraced property or 50 cubic metres in a semi-detached or detached property. However, the Mansard is different and will require permissions. This is because it completely alters the overall shape and structure of your roof
Pros and Cons
One the plus side:
However, the negatives are:
Of all the different type of loft conversions that you could opt for, this is perhaps the one that will offer the most long term satisfaction because it blends into your existing house. The mansard is the most expensive of all the conversions, but it has the advantage of using your roof space to its fullest potential.
A hip to gable conversion is one where the roof is extended to meet the exterior wall. Most houses have a double sloped roof and where those slopes meet at the top is called the hip. The gable is the part of the end wall where there are no other properties joined to it. In a terraced house, the end terraces would have this, for a detached property, it's any of your outside walls. So now you know a little bit more about what this type of conversion is, what are the benefits, does it require planning permission and if you can't have one – what are the alternatives?
In order to have a hip and gable conversion, your builder will need to remove part of your roof. This will allow the floor reinforcements to be put in place before the gable wall is rebuilt. Once this is done your hip roof is the rebuilt to.
Do you need planning permission?
Typically, the answer would be no. Because, your completed loft space shouldn't extend past the end of your property boundary, then you won't need any permissions. There are building regulations that you'll have to satisfy, but these can be discussed with your builder and or architect.
Is my property suitable?
Most properties can have a hip to gable loft conversion. This includes; detached, semi-detached, bungalows and chalets. Only an end terraced house can one, unfortunately mid-terraced are not suitable.
What are the alternatives?
If your property isn't suitable, then you may want to consider having a side dormer. This means that your conversion will protrude from the side of your house. Alternatively, you could consider having a mansard conversion as these are typically constructed at the rear of your house
Pros and cons of a hip to gable
A hip to gable loft conversion is just one of the many ways you can successfully utilise the space in your roof. A conversion is a very clever way of maximising the potential your house has to offer without needing to go through all the hassles of moving. The hip to gable conversion offers a unique way to increase your attic.
A dormer is a type of loft conversion where the structural part of it protrudes or sticks out vertically from the sloped roof. There are several different types of dormers, and a number of pros and cons that are related to having this type of roof makeover for your loft space. It's also possible to have this attic conversion at the top and side of your house if possible, but planning permission may be required depending on the size you opt for.
There are many different types of dormer conversions that you can get for your loft. Here are just a few;
Flat – this type is a standard conversion with no frills. The flat roof is the most versatile of all the different types that you can aquire.
Hip and gable – this type of dormer is one of the more aesthetically pleasing styles. It is constructed by having a gable wall line built up from the existing roof line with the addition of three sloping walls of a hipped roof that eventually meet at the ridge of the dormer.
Eyebrow – it looks like an eyebrow! This type of dormer is perhaps more unique and aesthetically pleasing to look at. It's constructed in a similar to the hip and gable type, but with a curved roof.
Why get a dormer?
There are many reasons why people choose a dormer conversion over other loft types, and here are just some of the many pros and cons
Whatever your reason for getting a dormer conversion, you'll find that you are spoilt for choice in terms of its construction method and style. The variety that you can achieve ensures that your attic transformation will provide your home with an abundance of new useable space.
If you are in the market for a loft conversion, but have a tight budget or don't want the prolonged intrusion of building works, then a Velux could be the option for you. If you've heard of a rooftop or skylight conversion then you'll know soon realise that this type of conversion is the same. Why? Because, the only difference is they type of windows that are used and Velux is a brand name for the windows. Regardless of the type of skylight you opt for this type works by utilising all of your accessible loft space because you only have windows installed.
Not just Windows
Ok, as with any loft transformation, you will need to spend money on a few essential additions in order to meet building regulations. These include, but aren't limited to;
Stairs – unfortunately in order satisfy building regulations and fire safety specifications, the access to the attic must be via a stair case. Loft ladders or any type of ladder that isn't a stair case will be considered unsafe
Flooring – you might be incredibly light, but rafters aren't designed to have a thin piece of wood placed over them and walked over for lengthy time periods. Again, to meet set building standards, the floor will need to be of adequate thickness and it will need to be fixed
Insulation – science states that 'hot air rises', and for this reason you will need have insulation in the new walls of your velux conversion and some sort of sound proofing for the floor below
You shouldn't need any planning permission because you aren't making an structural changes to the size of your property. One of the advantages of velux is that you are simply maximising what you already have.
If it's just windows, why are they so special?
The thing that makes these windows so special is there ability to flood your loft with natural light. The can also be made in any size and are designed to fix any rood slope gradient – which includes a flat roof
The only real disadvantage that you may find, is that because you're only have windows installed and may not be creating any additional space, you won't add any potential value to your property.
A velux conversion may just be about purchasing a brand of windows, but they are probably the best and most versatile loft windows on the market.
One of the main concerns that people have when embarking on an attic conversion, it when is the best time to have it converted? The short answer to this, is whenever you like. It's your loft and your house, so you are in charge of deciding when you want the work to commence. However, as with anything in life, it's not always that simple and there are a few other things that you might want to consider.
Regardless of where in the world you live, the weather is changeable and no amount of obsessive forecast watching can change that. Severe weather warning happen and that could be a sudden down pouring of torrential rain, winds that nearly blow you away, Siberian snow showers or baking hot days. However, you can rest assure that if you don't experience one of those dreaded severe weather conditions, your builders will continue to work.
If you have booked a once in a lifetime break or have just scheduled a must need chance to escape, but your due to have your attic converted during that precious time, then inform your builder. The loft makeover should be arranged to fit with your time and those of your contractor. If you know that you are going away, then have it factored into the construction timetable. Likewise if your builder has planned holidays then you will need to be informed about this before work starts.
Do you need to have your loft conversion completed by a set date? You won't be alone in discussing this with your builder. The best way to avoid any continued building work taking place after a required date is to have the work started as soon as possible. Depending on the type of conversion that you go for, they will all take varying amounts of time to complete.
Everyone needs a plan and this is no different to having work carried out on your home. An attic conversion can cause significant upheaval in your home, so it is important to consider every eventuality. Discuss the plans with your chosen builder and make sure that your requirements and theirs don't just fit each others additional timetables, but they are realistic and achievable
There is no real right of wrong time to have an attic conversion. Although quite simply, it would be wrong to have it done if you are facing a severe weather warning, or you or the builder have a lavish 4 week break planned. Communication with your construction team and planning ahead are essential for this type of house project.
So, you've made the decision to make use of the space in your roof, but how are lofts converted. The simple answer is that they are transformed through building work with insulation, flooring and electrical fittings to turn them into a room. However, to ensure that it's done correctly, there are a few things that you'll need to consider.
Can it be done?
Before embarking on your conversion, you need to know if it can be done and whether or not if it's suitable for remodelling. One quick method is to check out other houses on your street. Can you see if any of them have got loft conversions – windows in the roof? Another way is to measure the head height, which means measuring from the floor to highest part of the roof. The minimum height for a conversion is 2.2metres. Alternatively you could ask a builder to inspect your roof, many will offer a free no obligation quote.
Do you have trusses or rafters?
You can check this by just looking through the loft hatch. Rafters run along the edge of the roof and create a triangular hollow space. Whereas, trusses run through the criss-cross section of the loft. The rafter option is the easiest to convert, however, a conversion with trusses is also possible but it will cost more as your loft will require additional supports to replace them.
Type of loft conversion
Now you've established that your loft can be converted, it's time to choose which type of conversion to go for;
Roof-light – by far the cheapest option. This type just involves having a skylight installed, laying secure flooring and adding suitable access to your new room.
Dormer – Generally the most popular type of conversion. Dormers are an extension that sticks out over the slope of the roof. They are also suitable for any type of house with a sloped roof.
Hip-to-gable – This works by extending the slop (hip) of your roof at the side of your property outwards to create a vertical (gable) wall. This type is only suitable for detached and semi-detached properties.
Mansard – these run the whole length of your roof and alter the overall angle to make it almost vertical. These are suitable for all property types
Sturdy reinforced flooring is essential for a loft conversion. As a new room it needs to be able to withhold regular foot traffic and adequate furnishings. No-one wants a wardrobe to fall onto them through the floor upstairs.
One of the common questions asked by people hoping to have a loft conversion, is whether or not planning permission is required. The answer is, no not really, but it depends. If you're not ready to hire a builder or an architect yet, there are ways to answer this question a little better.
As a simple guide, you won't need planning permission if your loft conversion meets the following requirements;
If you are unsure then just contact a builder or architect and they can help you
Whilst you might not need to get planning permission, you will need to ensure that your loft extension meets specific building regulations. The type of conversion that you go for will have set regulations that need to be met, but on a more general basis, these include;
The above lists aren't extensive and you'll find that there are many other things that need to be considered before having a loft conversion constructed. Whilst planning permission isn't always needed, there are circumstances when it will be required. Regardless of whether or not planning permission is required, there are building regulations that must be met.