Getting your loft converted can be an ideal way to add more space to your home, but it can often feel like there are a lot of complicated steps involved in the process. Knowing where to start if you want to get a loft conversion can be daunting, so read our guide to find out more.
Is Your Loft Suitable?
First of all, you will need to make sure that your loft space is actually suitable for conversion. You may also be wondering, ‘do I need planning permission for a loft conversion?’. The good news is that most homes will come with permitted development allowed, meaning that you can go ahead with a loft conversion without the need to obtain planning permission beforehand. However, this is not the case for every home, and you may be required to get planning permission if you live in conservation area or if your roof space is not tall enough to convert your loft without additional building.
The best way to determine for sure if your home is suitable for a loft conversion is to ask a surveyor, architect or builder to visit your home and check out the loft space for you. However, there are several checks that you can carry out by yourself to get a better idea of whether or not your home is suitable for a loft conversion.
Look at Other Homes on Your Street:
One easy way to get an idea of whether or not your loft space is suitable for conversion is to check out similar houses on your street to see if they have had a loft conversion. If you can find similar homes on your street that have successfully had a loft conversion, it’s more likely to be possible that your home is also suitable. It’s a good idea to speak to your neighbours and ask to see what their loft conversion looks like if possible. Your neighbours may also be able to help you determine if your area requires loft conversion planning permission.
Measure the Head Height in Your Loft:
For a permitted development loft conversion that you do not need to get additional planning permission for, you will need to have a minimum head height of 2.2m, which is easy to measure yourself. In your loft, take a tape measure and run it from the floor to the highest point of the ceiling. Most lofts are tall enough for a conversion, however, bear in mind that Victorian houses tend to be lower compared to those built after the 1930s, so there may not be sufficient head height available if you live in an older home.
Check Your Roof:
It’s important to check the type of roof that your home has to determine if it is suitable for a loft conversion. Your home will have either roof rafters or trusses depending on when it was built. Thankfully, you can easily tell the type of roof that you have by simply looking through the loft hatch. If your roof has rafters, these will run along the edge of the roof, leaving most of the triangular space below hollow. On the other hand, trusses run through the cross-section of the loft to provide additional support. Bear in mind that although it is possible to convert a loft with trusses, you may need extra structural support installed to replace them.
Consider the Floor:
When planning a loft conversion, it is also important to consider the changes that may need to be made to the floor below the loft. It is important to think about where the staircase to your loft is going to go, and how much room it might take up in your home.
What Type of Loft Conversion Is Best for My Home?
There are four loft conversion styles to consider. These include dormer, hip-to-gable, mansard, and roof light. The type of loft conversion that you choose will be determined by a number of different factors including the type and the age of the house that you live in and your overall budget.
Roof Light Conversions:
A roof light loft conversion is the easiest and cheapest option for converting your loft and is usually included with existing loft conversion regulations. Permitted development will typically cover this type of loft conversion and is it the ideal way to make the most of your loft space if there is a large area available. There is no need to make any changes to the shape or pitch of the roof with this type of conversion. All you will need to do is lay a floor, add skylight windows, and add a staircase to turn the room into a living space.
Hip-to-gable conversions work by lengthening the slope of the roof at the side of your property, or the hip, outwards to create a vertical wall that provides more loft space inside. Since this property requires a free sloping roof at the side of the property, it is only suitable for detached or semi-detached houses. In a detached house that has a sloping roof on either side, it is possible to build on both sides to create an even larger loft extension.
Dormer loft conversions are a type of loft conversion and extension that protrudes from the sloped side of the roof. They are the most popular type of loft conversion, particularly flat-roof dormer conversions. They can be fitted on any house that has a sloping roof. In some cases, you might need to get dormer roof planning permission, since it will involve additional building on your roof to create the extension.
A mansard loft conversion is designed to run along the entire length of your roof, altering the roof slope angle to make it almost vertical. They are suitable for almost any type of property including terraced, detached and semi-detached houses, and are the most expensive type of conversion available. However, they are also the best type of conversion to opt for if you want to add a significant amount of extra space to your home.
Getting Planning Permission:
The good news is that permitted development rights cover the majority of loft conversions and you will not usually be required to get additional planning permission. However, if you have a certain type of property that will be tricky to convert, or you live on designated land such as a conservation area, permitted development might not cover the work. If you are unsure, the best thing to do is get in touch with your local council who can make you aware of any permissions you may need to get before starting the work.
Read more about planning permissions in our recent article about increasing your space at home.
Should I Tell My Home Insurance Company?
If you are planning a loft conversion, it is important to make sure that your home insurance company is aware of any changes that are likely to alter the structure, value, security, or habitability of your home. A loft conversion is an important change to inform your insurance company of since it is likely to increase the value of your home, which might have an impact on premiums for your buildings and contents insurance. If you are planning to stay anywhere else while your loft conversion work is being carried out, it is also important to inform your insurance company of this. Consider taking out specialist renovations insurance alongside your regular home insurance if you are having some serious building work done on your loft. This insurance covers against anything going wrong with the work and materials, and covers your liability as the property owner.
Choosing a Tradesperson for a Loft Conversion:
Finding the right tradesperson to complete your loft conversion job is an important step in the process. Recommendations are a good place to start; speak to your friends, family and neighbours, and look online to see if you can find any recommendations from people in local community forums or social media groups. If you have checked out your street to see if any similar homes to yours have loft conversions and you liked what you saw, it is worth asking your neighbours who they used for the work and how they found them.
You can also find trusted traders using sites like Which?, Checkatrade, or TrustATrader. When speaking with a tradesperson about your requirements for the job, it’s important to make sure that you ask to see some examples of their previous work. A reputable tradesperson or company will be willing to provide you with photographs, and some may even be able to organise a visit to some of their past clients so that you can see the conversions that they have completed in person and speak to the clients about their experience.
Before deciding who to go with, it’s a wise idea to get at least three quotes for the work that you are planning. However, don’t just go with the cheapest one – consider recommendations, past work examples, and your gut feeling.
Adding a loft conversion to your home can be an ideal way to create extra space and increase the value of your property.