Considering a Loft Conversion? 5 Things You Need to Remember
Are you considering adding a loft conversion to your home? There are multiple benefits, but, whether you want a home office, a guest room or to increase the value of your property before selling, you need to consider these crucial five points before you move ahead.
1. Is Your Property Suitable for a Loft Conversion?
The first thing you need to consider is whether or not your property is suitable for a loft conversion. The type of loft conversion you choose will depend on the layout and type of your home. You can determine if your property is suitable for a loft conversion by asking yourself the following:
Can Your House Handle the Weight of a Loft Conversion?
You will first need to determine if your property will be able to support the weight of a loft conversion. While a loft conversion contributes only a modest increase in weight, it’s still a vital step. A contractor may inspect the foundations to check if they can handle the extra weight, such as the weight of any beams or lintels required to support the structure. If it turns out your home will require underpinning to strengthen the foundations of your home, you will need to increase your budget substantially.
Does Your House Have Enough Head Height for a Conversion?
It happens more often than you might think: Homeowners have a loft conversion project completed and they’re excited to use their new space, only to realise that there is not enough headroom for their needs. You should check this with your contractor, then double check it and, just to be on the safe side, check it again.
Typically, a loft with a head height of at least 2.3 meters is fit for a conversion. However, any chimneys, water tanks and the pitch of the roof can affect this, so it’s always wise to discuss your needs with your loft conversion contractor to ensure your loft will be fit for purpose.
If your loft has a lower head height, you may need to make some adjustments, such as removing sections of the roof. Such adjustments will pile up the costs and require planning permission.
To avoid disappointment and delay due to a lack of planning or unpleasant financial surprises, it’s crucial to apply due diligence early on.
2. Planning Permissions, Building Regulations and Approvals
In most cases, you will not require planning permission for a standard loft conversion. However, as we mentioned earlier, there are circumstances where you will require permission from your council, such as if you’re removing parts of the roof to accommodate your needs or if you live in a conservation area.
In order for your loft conversion to fall under permitted development and not require planning permission (and, therefore, keep costs down!) you need to meet the following conditions:
- There is to be no extension of the roof space
- There is to be no extension higher than the top point of the roof
- All materials used should be in keeping with the property’s current look and style
- There will be no verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’ll need planning permission for your loft conversion, it won’t hurt to get in touch with your local council to get their advice.
Building Regulations and Approvals
A loft conversion must meet specific building regulations, which are designed to ensure safety and prevent accidents. These regulations cover:
- The strength of the floor
- The headroom above the staircase
- Adequate fire escapes
- Thermal efficiency
- Plumbing/central heating
It’s vital to consult a reputable loft conversion company that can ensure your loft conversion is designed and executed to meet these regulations.
If your house is semi-detached or terraced, make sure you inform your neighbour of your plans in advance. Not only is it a neighbourly thing to do, but it can save you some serious headaches when work begins, if they start a dispute.
Heat loss is a major contributor to hefty energy bills. The loft plays a major role when it comes to making or breaking your energy bill — whether converted or not — because warm air rises through your home and escapes via your loft.
When you add a loft conversion, it gives you the perfect opportunity to make your house more energy efficient. And, because the installation of effective insulation is part of the building regulations, this is one great benefit you won’t miss out on.
4. Fire Safety Upgrade
When your house is converted from a two-storey to a three-storey, there will be fire safety implications. To ensure protection against fire, you may need to re-plaster the ceilings below the conversion and your loft will need to be separated by a fire door, either at the top or bottom of your new stairs. You should also consider adding skylight windows that are easily accessible in the event of a fire.
Each floor will also require mains-powered smoke alarms which sound simultaneously when one is activated. Your loft conversion company will be able to ensure this is part of your loft design plans and implemented to meet regulations. All habitable rooms should have also have fire doors.
5. Getting Everything Done Properly
Before you start on your journey to getting your new loft conversion, you should take the time to research a reputable company. While your contractor will be able to advise you, consider the layout of your completed conversion and its desired purpose, be it a bathroom, study or additional bedroom.
The location of stairs leading to your loft is also something you need to consider early on, as they can be a tricky factor. Stairs take up space and are a legal requirement according to UK Building Regulations, meaning they need to be implemented in a way that is safe and will not compromise the space you currently have.
A good loft conversion company will be able to assist you with everything from the best type of conversion for your property and needs, to the design, approval and final completion of your project.