Wednesday 26 August 2020

Eight Considerations for Successfully Converting your Loft Space

Photo by SEASHELL IN LOVE - Kristin on Unsplash

                              {This is a collaborative post}

If your house is starting to feel as if you are outgrowing it, but you can’t afford the expense of moving, have you thought about renovating your loft and converting it into another bedroom, or maybe a study or playroom?

Financially speaking, loft conversions are always a good idea as they can add a large amount to the value of your home. Of course, there will be some disruption to your comfort of living whilst the renovation is going on and a new staircase is installed but the extra space and the value you gain will be totally worth it in the end.

Check out these eight considerations for successfully converting your loft space –

Do I need planning permission?

If you are mostly intending to do internal work and just put in some roof windows to gain light, you shouldn’t need to seek planning permission. Generally, a small-scale loft conversion is considered to be permitted development, but of course, it is always worth checking for your specific circumstances at the time, as there is nothing worse than having to apply for retrospective planning and potentially having to undo your hard work if planning consent is not given.

Does building regulations approval apply?

If you are creating a liveable space (that is a space that you’ll regularly use as part of your home) then UK building regulations are sure to apply and you’ll need to ensure that internal and external walls, floors, roofing, drainage, electrics and doors and windows all meet the regulations. If you are new to this area it is definitely worth contacting Building Control to discuss your plans and seek feedback on what they need from you.

Where will everything go?

Chances are you have lots of stuff stored up in your loft at the moment. If you convert it to a room, where will this all go? It may be that much of it is no longer needed and can be binned, recycled or given away. Or maybe it can go in a garage or shed, or even that it is more economic for you to rent storage space and have the extra room in your loft.

You can of course, plan in lots of clever storage in the eaves without losing too much floor space and particularly the floor space that has good ceiling height.

Getting in help to do the conversion

If you are not a builder then I expect much of what needs to be done for a loft conversion will probably be new to you and thus you might want to find some skilled help to take on the job. A large or complex conversion may require an architect or planning consultant but with a simpler job of taking the space and making it liveable, with a new staircase installed, it may be just a builder who is required.

Whoever you engage make sure you vet them out thoroughly. Ask friends and family for recommendations of people they have used in the past. Take references for tradespeople that are new to you and check out sites like

Really think through where the staircase will go

The staircase can be the thing that makes or breaks a loft conversion. It can take up a lot of space in the room if it needs to be enclosed and a door into the room created for fire safety reasons. Or you might have room to put a door and landing at the bottom of the staircase which means you can have a more open staircase leading into your loft space.

This is one part where it is good to seek expert advice as the skilled eye of an architect may just be able to see where the staircase can go to really make a difference in terms of upstairs space, landing space or light in your hallway.

Consider what kind of windows are best for your conversion

There are so many window types to choose from, depending on your budget and requirements for your loft conversion. The easiest and cheapest will be traditional centre-pivot roof windows, which come in a variety of colours and you can choose accessories such as Venetian blinds, roller blinds, remote control systems, and even smoke ventilation systems. Modern roof windows such as those made by FAKRO have automatic air inlets, increased burglary resistance and are thermally efficient.

If you want something a little more special you could consider arc windows. L-shaped combination windows or even the glamorous Balcony windows, as shown below.

How long will the conversion take?

This will, of course, depend on what type of conversion you are having, but if it is a fairly simple one, a builder should be able to complete it in 4 – 5 weeks. At first, you’ll have scaffolding so that the roof space can be accessed without going through your house. Debris will go down a chute into a skip and only once the new permanent staircase is complete will the builder be coming through your house. You should expect some dust, mess, and disruption but not anywhere near as much as a ground-floor extension might cause.

Insulating and soundproofing your loft space

Of course, good insulation will end up saving you money in the long term as lofts can be hot in summer and very chilly in the winter and you’ll want this new room to be as usable as any other in the house. Don’t skimp on good insulation as it will be important to keep noise out in you live in a busy area with lots of traffic, train noise or industrial work. You’ll also want to ensure the floor of the loft is well prepared to keep noise coming from this new room into the rest of the house to a minimum. Packing the floor with Rockwool or a similar mineral-based insulation works well but you’ll need to employ more purposeful tactics if you’ll be using the room as a studio or cinema room to ensure it stays soundproof.

I hope these considerations have helped you to think through what it will involve converting your loft space. Realistically your loft conversion could end up boosting your house value by as much as 22%, the Nationwide Building Society found in their recent research, and with that in mind, why wouldn’t you do the conversion? Happy planning and building!

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