Homeowners who make the decision to invest in getting a loft conversion for their property will do so for a multitude of reasons. As the space in the attic prior to a conversion is unusable for the daily rigours of family life, each type of loft extension looks to expand this space to make ir functional. There isn't really a right or wrong answer as to what to use the space for, however, we generally see four main uses. The functionality of each use will depend on the type of conversion you ultimately choose.
Most offices do not need to be excessively large as what is usually required is a space for a decent sized desk, laptop/desktop, cabinets and maybe a sofa (for when you need some time out!). Because of these requirements, the most cost effective type of loft conversion is the Velux conversion.
Bedroom (with ensuite)
Probably the most common use for a loft conversion in the UK, creating an extra bedroom, especially with an ensuite, is considered the most effective way to increase the value of your home. General requirements are sufficient space for the ensuite to contain at least a shower, enough headroom to comfortably get in and out of bed and decent storage facilities. The best types of loft conversions for this would be a dormer, hip to gable or mansard conversion.
The requirements for a playroom will differ considerably if its is meant for young children or adults. If it is for young children having enough storage for the toys and appropriate lighting is paramount, a cost effect type of conversion would be a Velux conversion. If you an adult, the requirements change and the amount of headroom becomes increasingly important. We would suggest a domer or hip to gable (if possible) as cost effective options.
Some homeowners may want to create an extra lounge at the roof of their home to take advantage of great views or split the home to have “adults zone” and “children's zone.” The most appropriate type of conversion would be hip to gable or mansard loft conversions as these can increase the amount of usable space in your loft considerably.
Of course this is not an exhaustive list, there are countless ways in which you can utilise your loft conversion. One thing to consider is making sure you get the right conversion to suit your needs, minimising the chance of overspending.
Do loft conversions add value to your home?
Loft conversions are large scale projects, which require a number of different trades to ensure the attic extension is completed to the appropriate building regulations. Depending on the type of loft conversion you go for, planning permission may be required, which will extend the total time. We have taken a look at the 4 major types of loft conversions in the UK and consider the average expected time for the build to take from start to finish.
A Velux loft conversion is one of the simplest loft conversions you can complete. The roofline is left untouched and the interior is reinforced to make the space usable. Added to this, typically Velux windows are also installed, which improves the amount of natural light for the space. The typically timeframe is around 2-4 weeks but this can be extended if further modifications will be required as part of the conversion i.e. an ensuite.
Dormer loft conversions are the most popular type of loft conversion in the UK, as they are a relatively affordable way of increasing the usable space in your loft, without extensive modification to your roofline. As there are many ways of completing a dormer conversion, the average build time will vary greatly from property to property. However, we tend to see these conversions completed in 6-8 weeks.
Hip to Gable
For those living in semi-detached or detached homes, hip to gable loft conversions are quite popular as they “square” the corners of your roofline, increasing the amount of usable space drastically. As with dormers, the timescale for these types of conversions depends on the size and complexity, however we typically see these builds being completed in 6-8 weeks.
The largest and most complex types of loft conversions, mansard change the whole roofline to accommodate effectively an extra storey in your property. Planning permission most likely will be required, so expect to add up to 6 weeks on top of the build time as the complete start to finish time. We typically see these builds competed in 8-12 weeks.
With all of the timescales above, these could be extended further due to bad weather, materials shortage or general unforeseen circumstances. Any professional loft conversion specialists will always keep you informed if the build time is expected to be extended.
More information on lofts here
Typical loft conversion uses
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.