Want to expand your home but aren’t sure where to begin? Learn how to choose the best sort of conversion, determine whether your loft is suitable, and locate a builder. Knowing where to begin can be challenging because converting your loft involves many seemingly difficult processes. We’ve put up this step-by-step guide to help you through the procedure from beginning to end. After determining whether your home is suitable for a loft conversion, you must carefully measure the area, select one of the four primary styles of loft conversions, and then select a builder or architect.
It doesn’t have to be a difficult road, though. As we outline the main phases of a loft conversion, scroll below. My loft, might it be converted? Determine whether your loft space is suited for a conversion before moving on.
The majority of homes will have a permitted development (PD) allowance, allowing you to proceed with your conversion without needing planning permission.
- Terraced house: maximum development is 41 cubic meters
- Development cannot exceed 51 cubic meters for semi-detached homes.
It can be more difficult if you reside in a conservation area or if your roof space isn’t tall enough. There are a few assessments you may make on your own before asking a builder, architect, or surveyor to come to your property and look things over for you.
Verify the style of your roof
Your home will either feature roof trusses or rafters, depending on when it was constructed. You ought should be able to identify your roof type just by peeking through your loft hatch.
- Rafters run along the roof’s edge, leaving the majority of the triangle below hollow.
- Supports called trusses cross the loft’s cross section. It is possible to convert a loft that has trusses, but it will probably cost more because new structural support is required to replace the trusses.
Count the height of the head
A loft conversion requires a minimum height of 2.2 meters, which you may readily measure on your own. Take a tape measure and measure the room’s tallest point from floor to ceiling. You should be able to convert your loft if it is 2.2 meters or higher. Victorian homes frequently have lower ceilings than those constructed after 1931, therefore they might not have enough head height. Considerations like water tanks and chimney stacks should be taken into account when planning the conversion of an older home.
Insulation and heating
Consider whether insulating your loft will be sufficient or whether you’ll need to heat it. If you do need to heat it, think about whether underfloor heating or radiators would be a better option. See our guide for more information on the benefits and drawbacks of underfloor heating. Depending on your heating system, you may also need to boiler replacement, especially if you’re adding a bathroom. Your home’s energy efficiency will enhance if your loft is properly insulated. You can do this to save money and energy. A higher energy efficiency certificate (EPC), which will increase the value of your home, may be granted if it is more energy-efficient. In our article, you can learn more about loft insulation and expenses.
Ascending a loft
Although it might not be the first consideration when planning a loft conversion, it is one of the most crucial. When planning a conversion, many people forget to consider alterations to the level below the loft, but it’s important to consider where the staircase will likely go and how much space it could need. Consider how much space you’re ready to give up and how it will effect the flow of your home before choosing a staircase. It also needs to allow you to transport furniture up to that room. Even a well-designed, space-saving staircase can take up a lot of room. A bespoke staircase should cost at least five times as much as a regular one.
The stairs are the most crucial component because if they are off, the conversion may also be off.
In your mind
- Check your headroom to see whether there is enough room for the loft conversion and stairs.
- Location: consider where the stairs can go and whether a spiral staircase or stairs with alternating treads are appropriate for the space.
- Step height: Regulations dictate a specific pitch or angle for your steps, and each stair’s riser must meet minimum standards.
- Fire safety: your home needs a connected fire alarm system and a secure escape route.
On your street, look for other conversions
Checking to discover if any nearby properties that are comparable to yours have undergone loft conversions is another excellent technique to determine whether your loft can be converted. It’s more likely to be a possibility if you find instances. If you can, it’s also worthwhile to take things a step further and ask to see anyone who has had it done in your street’s loft. By doing so, you can get a feel of the size of the area and start thinking about how you’ll use it. It’s a terrific way to obtain ideas for various layout alternatives, as well as to get a sense of the vistas you’ll have and the amount of light that will enter through the skylights.
Pick a renowned architect or builder
Finding a conversion provider you can trust can make all the difference. People who have gone through a conversion cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you to feel comfortable with the tradespeople you hire because they will be in your home for a significant amount of time. Consult with your friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations. Ask to view examples of previous work from each company and from any builders or architects you’re working with. Talk to at least three companies to get a sense of their personalities and costs, then choose which ones are the best fit for you. The majority of trustworthy businesses will be happy to send you pictures, and some might even be able to arrange visits so you can ask customers about their experiences and see at the conversions they’ve made.
Make sure you also conduct background checks. Check online for reviews, and if you have any concerns, give the business a call. Additionally, ask to speak with a few of their former clients; ideally, more than one or two, so the company won’t have as much discretion in whom it connects you with. What distinguishes the various loft conversion types? There are four primary varieties to pick from: mansard, hip-to-gable, roof lights, and dormers. Your decision will likely be influenced by a number of elements, including your budget and the type and age of the home you now reside in.
Conversion of roof lights
- benefits If you live in a conservation region or are on a tight budget, this is an excellent alternative.
- Disadvantages: Compared to a dormer or mansard conversion, it provides significantly less area.
Roof light conversions are by far the least expensive and disruptive choice because the roof’s pitch or contour won’t need to be altered. To make the space usable, all that needs to be done is to install skylight windows, a solid floor, and a stairway. However, for this kind of conversion, you must already have enough roof space without an extension.
Conversion to dormers
- advantages Most homes with sloping roofs have this option.
- Disadvantages Because more structural adjustments are required than with a typical conversion, the construction process can be lengthy.
An extension that projects from the pitch of the roof is known as a dormer loft conversion. The most common style of conversion is dormers, particularly flat-roof dormers. They work with just about any house with a sloping roof. Dormer conversions are less expensive than hip-to-gable or mansard conversions, but they nevertheless significantly increase the amount of headroom and floor space.
- Advantages As opposed to expanding outwards, which is typically more expensive, a dormer conversion is typically more natural-looking.
- Disadvantages It only fits houses with a free-sloping side roof and is more expensive than a dormer conversion.
Hip-to-gable conversions increase the interior loft area by extending the sloping “hip” roof at the side of your property outward to create a vertical “gable” wall. Due to the need for a free-sloping side roof, this type of conversion can only be done on detached or semi-detached homes. You can add on both sides of a detached house with sloping roofs to make a double hip-to-gable extension that is considerably roomier.
Conversion to mansard
- benefits It adds a ton of new usable area that is appropriate for many different kinds of real estate.
- Negative aspects include high cost and an unnatural appearance as a result of the shift in roof slope.
Your roof’s slope will be changed by mansard extensions running the entire length of it, making it almost vertical. These conversions are typically the most expensive, but they add a large amount of space. Most property types, including terraced, semi-detached, and detached homes, are appropriate for mansard conversions.
How much time does a loft conversion require?
The answer to this issue ultimately depends on the trader you choose and the kind of loft conversion they work on.
- The quickest conversions are often rooflight conversions, which take about four weeks to complete.
- Conversions of dormers can take up to five weeks.
- Conversions from hip to gable might take up to seven weeks.
- It will take closer to eight weeks to finish the mansard conversion.
You’ll spend the first week or two preparing your house and obtaining the supplies and tools you’ll need. Usually, the outside of your property is where work begins. The interior of your home, including the flooring, insulation, and stud walls, come next. Plastering, electrical work, and plumbing will be taken care of in the final phase.
The best advice for a seamless loft conversion
While some bumps in the road throughout the course of your loft conversion are unavoidable, there are a number of things you can do to minimize them and keep any unpleasant surprises at bay. To aid you in preparing, we’ve assembled some important professional advice.
At every point of the conversion process, from the first time you meet with your architects and builders until the moment the job is over, it is vital to be as knowledgeable as you can be. Try to consider as many different design layout choices as you can, and be quite certain in your mind of what you want, how it will appear, and whether it will meet your needs. Do you desire an ensuite in your new bedroom? To work from home, do you need additional space? Do you only require more room for storage? Architects and construction companies could direct you toward their own design concepts. Although their expertise is unquestionably useful, this is your home, and you know what suits your needs the best, so don’t be afraid to make your own suggestions when planning.
- Fixtures and equipment
- built-in dressers or other pieces of furniture
- What kind of shower or bath would you like if you had a bathroom?
- Which window types, quantities, and sizes are offered?
- Remember to consider ventilation.
- Whether you desire blinds or curtains
- what number of electrical outlets you’ll need.
Budgets should account for costs
Determine how much it will likely cost you is a crucial component. It’s crucial to account for these increased expenditures up front to minimize budget issues later on, as fixed elements like the sort of roof structure you have may make it more expensive. There are other ways to reduce expenditures, such where you put the bathroom.
Meet the plumber, electrician, and project manager
It’s important to get to know the tradespeople who will be working on your conversion before they start because they will be coming and going from your house for several weeks. Plan to be home when your project manager, electrician, and plumber arrive on their start dates, if at all possible. It’s also a good idea to consider checking in on the job frequently so you can confirm that it fulfills your needs and voice any issues. A homeowner complained that the finish was below par and that she should have checked the job daily to make sure it was what she desired.
Be ready for a disturbance
The counsel that is given the most frequently is to mentally get ready for the disturbance you’ll encounter. There isn’t much you can do to avoid the dirt and intrusion of loft conversions. Remember that the interruption will affect all areas of your house, not simply the loft and the downstairs room. Having an open roof in the middle of winter is not ideal if you have a baby or young child; you might want to think about scheduling the conversion for a warmer season. A loft can change more than just the mess in your house. For instance, you might need to move a water tank from the loft to another part of the house or install fire doors to meet construction codes. To establish your expectations, talk about this with your project manager as soon as possible. The majority of reputable construction companies will try to complete as much work as they can inside the loft before “breaking through” to the floor below to fit the stairs, which should assist to shorten the duration of the disturbance.
Make sure to factor in any further work that might be needed after the conversion is completed when calculating your timeframe. Will you be doing the decorating yourself or employing someone else, and will a bathroom need to be tiled? When deciding on a completion date, keep these things in mind.
Maintain the support of your neighbors
The disruption caused by a loft conversion affects everyone involved, including your neighbors. Set their expectations by deciding on start and finish times, as well as letting them know when specific construction-related activities will take place and when various tradespeople and tools will arrive. Keep them aware of significant changes as well, and if neighbors express concerns, check if there is anything you can do to adjust how the builders will be working. If you require a Party Wall Agreement, which is necessary if your loft wall is shared with the neighbor, getting them on your side will be especially helpful. Obtaining their signature on this can be a time-consuming and expensive process, particularly if they are dissatisfied with the plans.
Should I disclose a loft conversion to my home insurance provider?
Yes, you should inform your insurer of any changes that will affect the value, security, habitability, or structure of your home. Your buildings and contents insurance premiums may increase as a result of, for instance, a loft conversion that raises the property’s worth. While your loft conversion is being done, if you are residing somewhere else, you should let your insurance know and try to give them several weeks’ notice. If you’re having significant construction work done, think about getting specialized renovation insurance. This protects you against problems with the building work, materials, and liabilities for property owners.
A dictionary for the workplace
A builder’s finish often include plastering the walls and installing plug outlets, light fixtures, skirting boards, and architraves. It’s unlikely to include tasks like painting, tiling, or carpet installation. It’s important to confirm what is covered if your construction company promises to finish your conversion to a builders’ finish.
A roof’s pitch simply refers to how steep it is. Some loft extensions, like mansard conversions, enlarge the inside of the home by changing the roof’s pitch.
The sloping beams that support the roof in your loft are called rafters. You should have an easier time converting your loft if you have rafters rather than roof trusses (see below).
Roof trusses are wooden frames that span the loft’s cross section and hold up the roof. The cost of your extension may increase by a factor of two if you decide to convert a loft instead of using the more difficult-to-convert old-style rafters.
Shell conversions are partial conversions, where a building company handles the structural work while you handle the remaining tasks. A shell conversion typically entails finishing all structural woodwork, building a waterproof internal loft space, installing windows and doors, chipboard flooring, a staircase, and any interior stud walls.
Velux is a well-known skylight brand that has come to be associated with rooflight windows. If your loft is of the proper size and complies with building codes, a Velux conversion simply entails installing Velux roof lights.