Do you keep your attic packed with everything you don’t currently use? Are you in need of more space, perhaps because of your newly born, or a family member moving in? Instead of moving to a bigger home, you could consider a loft conversion that would add the extra space to your home. They are very versatile and affordable and an option for many people in your situation. Sure, you can consider moving to a larger place, that can come with its own advantages but also challenges and costs. Maybe you love the area you live in, it is close to your points of interest, the house fulfills your needs, but it just needs some extra space. You have the option of making a house extension, but that would take from your valuable land. Loft extensions on the other hand, use the current house structure, and more than that, with new space, you will gain new views. A loft has its windows away from traffic and noise, so you could enjoy both the sunlight and the night sky.
Why a loft conversion?
A conversion loft can be easier and faster to build than other types of constructions, this way your new space will be available to you faster. But, for a successful project you will need a lot of information about conversions, building regulations approval, loft conversion types. Good planning and the correct information are part of the success of adding a new functional space with lawful development to your existing house. You shouldn’t start such a project without contacting builders with experience in such projects, or an architect. Prior to that, you should determine what your new space will be used for, and then look for similar loft conversions, particularly in your neighborhood. This way you can see what limits and conditions are in your area. A good and reputable construction company can give many useful tips and information, especially if you require planning permission, building control, and construction details. The loft conversion for instance will not be considered permitted development for buildings on designated land. Verandas, balconies or raised platforms bring an extra appeal as they offer some outdoor space to your loft, but they are also not considered permitted development. The loft conversion should not extend beyond the plane of the existing roof slope at the front of the house, otherwise it will not be considered permitted development. It shouldn’t overhang the outer face of the wall of the original building. As you can see, many details that a professional can explain to you in depth.
The dormer loft conversion is a very popular one because of its boxy shape, giving plenty of head space and room. And it may not need planning permission if your conversion follows certain criteria. But again, if you live in a conservation area, or your loft exceeds a certain volume, materials are not similar in appearance to the rest of the house, or it does exceed the height of the existing roof, you will need to apply for loft conversions planning permission for roof extensions. Another factor to consider is that side-facing windows must be obscure-glazed. The original eaves of the building must be preserved or reinstalled. Your loft should not change the appearance to the existing building too much.
Your loft can be transformed into multiple types of living spaces. Your attic will thus gain more utility than a storage space, as you probably use it today. It can be multiple rooms, a home office, an entertainment center, a play room, etc. Get familiar with the types of loft you could get, and the benefits and limitations of each of them. See what is suited for your original house. Especially if you live in a conservation area, there might be some limits when you want to convert your house. As a general principle, most loft conversions are considered permitted development, if they have less than 50 cubic meters loft conversion for detached and semi detached houses, or 40 cubic meters for terraced houses. Obviously, the best way to know exactly what the requirements are is to get the information from the builders.
The loft conversion should match your needs, lifestyle and house style, and it should not be a cookie-cutter solution. It should be uniquely tailored to your needs and to the house structure. If you have been looking at various conversions for inspiration, you must have noticed many stylish and highly functional projects. Whether they are used for living space, or for other destination, such as a home office, they will add value to your property. The new loft will offer you the extra space and functionality for the duration of time you are living in that house. But, in case you want to sell it in the future, having this extra space added to your home, will increase the value of the house. This increase can be even with 20%, especially if you have a bathroom added during your loft conversion. Conversions bring more usable internal space, usually as an extra bedroom or bathroom, making such properties very appealing to buyers. Especially considering such a loft conversion does not take any space from your garden, like a house extension would.
Now that you’ve seen some of the main benefits a loft can bring to your house, you are wondering where to start. What type of loft will be best suited for your needs and current house? You should get familiar with the elements of each, and here are some key features of the main loft types.
But first, is your loft suited for a conversion? How easy or how expensive is it going to be to convert it? Will you need planning permission? For starters, a loft must have a headspace of at least 2.3 meters. In case your existing roof allows for this space, you are in luck. But if it doesn’t, it means you must make structural changes, which most likely will not be within permitted development rights. The more work and structural changes a loft conversion will require, the more expensive it will be, the more likely it will need planning permission, and it will take longer to complete. But this should not prevent you from planning your perfect space, adapted to your needs. It’s just something to be aware of, so your budget and time expectations are correct.
Is it permitted development?
One of the most popular types of loft conversion are dormer loft conversions. They are relatively easy to make and offer the necessary headspace and living space for a nice functional loft space. The roof is altered usually on the sides, or sometimes rear, to add a dormer with a flat roof. This new dormer, which will be part of the roof, is perfect to live in because of its rectangular space and flat roof. A dormer loft conversion offers also lots of natural sunlight though the dormer windows. Most likely, you will need planning permission for a dormer loft conversion, so you should be aware of this fact.
The cheapest type of loft conversion would be a Velux conversion, where you don’t alter the roof structure, and you simply build inside, adding the necessary windows to allow the natural light in. The existing roof slope is kept, so they don’t take much time to complete, and may require no loft conversion planning permission. They could be perfect for instance for a home office, where you will take advantage of the natural sunlight coming in.
A hip to gable conversion means the roof slope of the side of the house is removed and a straight wall is built, resulting in a vertical gable. You will have more roof space available to transform it into living space. You can go a step further, and combine the hip to gable roof conversion with a dormer roof, for even more space. You may not need planning permission for it, but you should check first if your changes fall within permitted development rights.
Mansard loft conversions mean the replacement of the original house roof, either on one side, or both sides of the home, with mansards. They have a steep roof slope and a flat roof on top. They will offer plenty of space, perfect for extra bedrooms and a bathroom for the best living conditions. A mansard loft conversion and a dormer loft conversion are quite similar, as you can see. Choosing between them depends on many factors. Mansards offer by far the most space. But they will come at a cost, and they also need planning permission.
Regardless of the type of loft conversion you will choose, you will have to pay attention to several limits and conditions. If you plan to do alterations to a loft conversion, to transform it into livable space, it will need to follow building regulations. You must prove that your new space will follow the legislation when it comes to the safety and livable space standards. This can be achieved by using professional services from architects, surveyors, structural engineers, etc. They can design and plan elements such as fire safety, headroom, plumbing and electrical, sound insulation. You new floor must have enough structural strength, and also offer adequate sound insulation with the floor below. The access stairs must be safely designed, and particular attention must be given to fire escapes. You must prove your building is safe and suited for living, and you should want that for yourself and your family.
Your loft conversion will not require permission from your neighbor, but a Party Wall Agreement may be needed if the conversion is in a terraced or semi detached house. If you share a wall or more with your neighbors, and your work may affect them you must notify your neighbors about this. A Party Wall Surveyor can be very helpful with these issues.
A conversion involves creating extra livable space in addition to what’s existing in your home, that will have lots of natural light coming in, so you’d have a pleasant and also a practical space. It is important to know, early on, the number and size of the windows you need. They also must meet fire safety standards, and allow easy access out in case of a fire. For any loft you must design and build an easy access to it. Access stairs are another important factor in your loft conversion project. They must connect the floor below your loft with the loft. Analyze the space from the floor below to see where your staircase can be placed. Fire escapes, smoke alarms, easy stairs access will make your property safe and up to code.
Without proper planning, your new conversion will not benefit from the extra space you gain. Although the purpose of a conversion is to create new livable space, instead of just using the loft for storage, most likely, you will still need some storage space there. Depending on the loft conversion type you are going for, you will have some difficult spaces that may seem unusable at first glance. Eaves are examples of such spaces that can still be cleverly used. With cupboards that follow the existing shape of the eaves, you can create some extra storage space.
Dormer conversions, due to their more traditional shape, ample room and vertical wall, will pose less challenges in the new floor layout planning. The same would go with a mansard. The other loft types will pose some challenges in using the space at its best. Here again the advice and help from an architect or specialist will prove very valuable. Adding a bathroom, regardless of the destination of your loft space, will add functionality and value.
Planning permission needed?
As you could see thought this article, when it comes to a construction project, and loft conversions are no exception, there are many factors that need to be factored in. Work with professionals an experienced builders and architects if you want to be sure your project is following building regulations, or it falls within permitted development rights, or to find out whether you need planning permission. You can apply for a Lawful Development certificate, which is a good way of finding out whether your plans and your activity is lawful.
For terraced houses, houses in world heritage sites, conservation areas, semi detached houses you will have to look for a permission for a loft. Get all your info on existing loft conversion planning permission in the UK before starting the work to avoid any later problems.
Even if you will not be needing planning permission, you will still need to follow building regulations. Through the Planning Portal, you can obtain approval for these.
These building regulations are dependent on the type of conversion you are doing, and other factors, but generally they are concerned with the structural stability of your loft conversion, correct stairs placement, fire safety, etc. There are many alterations and works done to transform a loft into livable space. Any of these, if not done properly, will put the occupants of the house at risk.
If done properly, your loft conversion will comply with all the relevant building regulations, any potential planning permission, and will add value to your property.