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.
The space at the top of the house, in the roof is so often just left there, or if we do dare to venture into open the loft hatch it's to put empty boxes or unused items out of sight. If this is you, don't worry, you are not allow as many others have 'dead space' in the attic. However, there are many more ways in which your can utilise that space in your roof. Below are just a couple examples.
A Full Loft Conversions
If you desperately need an extra room in your house, and have considered the moving option, a full loft conversion could be the next best thing. There are building regulations that a full conversion must adhere to, such as being a minimum height and not having criss-cross trusses. However, even if you don't meet the height requirements or have criss-cross trusses you could still opt for a full loft conversion. It will just cost more money because you need to factor in raising the room or having extra supports built in if you have criss-cross trusses.
Storage conversion/Part Loft Conversion
If your loft doesn't meet the height regulations or you have a loft with the criss-cross trusses, then another option is to convert it for storage or have a partial loft conversion . Be aware that this means that your loft cannot be used as a full time space – it isn't classed as an extra room. A storage conversion means that it can be utilised and organised better for storage. To achieve this, you will need to lay sturdy loft boards so that they can be walked on, or have items place on them. If you already have loft boards in place, then this is a good opportunity to de-clutter your attic and arrange it in a more manageable way. You may also want to consider having lighting fitted if you don't already have that in place too.
Is your home packed to the rafters with family members and belongings? Perhaps you are, or have taken up a new hobby such as photography or sewing and dream of having your own dark room or dedicated sewing room – then investing in a loft conversion could be a better option than scouring the housing market for a new house. Below are four great reasons for getting your attic transformed.
1) A new room
The first and most important benefit of getting a loft conversion, is that all important extra room. Your attic space can be transformed into a creative space, office, bedroom or even a new bathroom. Not only will having a new room be more beneficial to you and your family, but because it's higher up you can achieve the additional bonus of having a room with a view.
2) Could add value to your property
By creating that extra room, you may add value to your property. Research indicates that by adding an extra room your property price could go up, but you could just break even and get back the money you spent converting your loft. The attic is often considered to be 'dead space' or an area that is only used for storing long forgotten children's toys and items that have been collected over the years. By having a conversion, you are rejuvenating that space and putting it to practical use.
3) Increases overall property space
Getting a loft conversion doesn't just add an extra room to your property, a carefully planned and executed conversion can also create extra storage space too. What's more by converting your attic into a more accessible and useable room, you will reduce the pressures on the other rooms in your home.
4) No need to move
If you thought you had already found your ideal home and due to its perfect location for the daily commutes to school and work, but the only downside to it now is the need for more space – then a loft conversion can help. Depending on how much extra space you require, a conversion can save on the ever increasing costs of moving and it could work out to be cheaper.
If you are now looking at your loft hatch an considering the possibilities of investing in a conversion, then do it. Most builders will offer a few quote, and it's worth considering. Obviously not all lofts can be converted, but if yours can be then you have a lot more to gain than to lose.
How to utilise the space in your roof
If you have chosen or need to convert to space in your loft, then you will need to consider the costs that could be involved. There are two options to take depending on the viability of your roof space.
Option 1 – The basic conversion
Building regulations stipulate that the loft space needs to be greater than 2.2 metres – this is measured from the loft floor to the rafters above. If your house meets these requirements, then the following costs could be incurred and will need to factored into your overall budget;
Option 2 – Raising the roof
If your roof space doesn't meet the height regulations, then you could consider having the roof raised. This option is the most expensive because you will have to have your entire roof removed and rebuilt at the new higher level. In addition to this, you will also need to apply and successfully get planning permission, which could take a while. Once the new higher roof has been constructed, you will then incur the same costs as outlined in Option 1.
It is important to considered and budget for all possible costs when planning for a loft conversion. You will also need to ensure that building regulations allow for the conversion and that the roof meets the minimum requirements before embarking on any such work.
Benefits for an attic extension
BS1 Loft Conversions
A loft, sometimes referred to as an attic, is the space at the top of a property that houses the roof and all the support for the rest of the property. Loft conversions are considered cost effective ways to increase the liveable space within a home without buying a new property as it turns once unusable space in the roof to an area that can have a whole host of uses, such as bedroom, an office, a study or even an extra lounge area.
Due to the size and complexity of the projects, it is not uncommon for home owners to employ a construction company to complete the loft conversion. Some of these companies will have expertise in other home building projects, such as extensions. As this is a very specialist area, the types of builders that generally complete the loft conversions will be specialists in their own right and may have a number of projects on the go at any one time.
There are different major types of loft conversions that require different permissions depending on where you are in the UK, due to the varying regulations within local authorities. Even though a loft conversion is specific to an individual’s property, each type of loft conversion has its own familiar characteristics, and forms the majority of all conversions that occur in the UK.
Velux – simple loft conversions that maintain the shape of the roof-line with the addition of Velux windows to improve the amount of light that comes into the attic.
Dormer – the most popular type of conversion completed in the UK. Typically these are housed at the back of a property and cause a protrusion from the roof-line in a box like shape.
Hip to Gable – for detached or semi-detached homes with roofs that slope inwards from all four corners, a hip to gable conversion extends a sloped slide to a flat size, increasing the amount of usable space in the loft.
Mansard – these are the most expensive loft conversions as they involve completely changing the shape of the roof-line, which in turn creates a vast amount of usable space. Although not as common as a dormer, mansards are appealing due to essentially creating a whole new story for the property.
For more information on what a loft conversion is, you can learn more here
Learn more about the costs to consider for your conversions