Here’s the good news
The loft space of the majority of homes can be converted.
In this guide we are going to talk you through how you can be sure your loft is suitable for converting into additional living space. We’ll also touch on some of additional considerations, like planning permission and building regulations, that you may need to factor in to your plans.
The main thing that we want to stress, though, is that it is highly likely you can create a playroom, guestroom, home office or extra bedroom from that loft of yours.
Let’s show you how you can be certain.
Assessing your loft space: first impressions don’t always count
It’s only when you talk through your ideas with an expert that you can start to visualise a living space and see past that constricting slope of the roof and all those intrusive ‘W’ shaped roof trusses that form the structure of your roof.
The truth is that your roof’s slope can be extended if needed and those space-stealing trusses can be replaced with steel or timber supports that discretely run the length of the loft to create extra living room.
But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves: first, you need to measure up that loft.
1. Will your loft measure up?
Not all roofs are the same. Broadly speaking they can be divided in two types.
Traditional cut rafter and purlin roof
These roofs tend to be found in houses that predate 1965. The rafters form an ‘M’ shape that meets the floor of your loft at its centre.
If you have a traditional roof the critical measurement is a minimum height of 2.2 metres at its highest point.
Modern trussed roof
These roofs are typically found in houses built after 1965. Here the trusses form a ‘W’ shape that meets the rooftop at its highest central point.
If you have a modern roof the critical measurement is a minimum height of 2.4 metres at its highest point.
2. Will there be enough room for a loft room?
There are two main things to be considered here: the pitch, or angle, of your roof and the amount of floor space available.
The pitch of your roof
In general an ideal pitch would be 30 degrees or more. The higher the pitch angle, the higher the central head height is likely to be. This factor, however, is certainly not a showstopper: there are a number of ways our loft conversion specialists can design your loft to overcome any issues created by lower angled roofs.
The loft’s footprint
As a rule of thumb, your loft’s internal walls should measure a minimum of 5.5 metres from one side to another (inclusive of the chimney) and 7.5 metres from the front to the back.
Smaller loft spaces can still be made to work so your plans are far from over should your loft not quite measure up.
3. While you are up there...
As you are up in your loft already – and beginning to imagine your new living space – make sure you also note these three things.
Is there a water tank?
Don’t worry: we can always move this to create more usable space, if needed.
Is the chimney stack obtrusively placed?
Whilst chimney stacks usually have to remain in position, they can be removed, but this may well be subject to planning.
Is there a layer of felt over your roof tiles?
Felt is the material that is usually used to waterproof the tiles (although other materials can be used). If your tiles have not been waterproofed you will be able to see them (and the battens they are fixed to).
If this is the case, you going to need to budget for waterproofing the tiles.
4. Planning permissions and building regulations
We go into a lot more detail about planning permissions here but let’s just offer you some basic information about what does and doesn’t need planning permission.
Planning permissions and loft conversions
You can extend your roof space by up to 50 metres³ (40 metres³ for terraced houses) under Permitted Development Rights.
So, in theory, you do not need to seek planning permission for most loft conversions.
However, there are strict limitations that you must follow.
These include things like not making any additions at the main elevation beyond the plane of the existing roof slope and using materials similar in appearance to the rest of your existing house.
Permitted Development Rights are removed for loft conversions larger than the extensions above and for properties in conservation areas.
Our team will always be on hand to help you secure your planning permission, should you need it.
Building regulations and loft conversions
You will definitely need approval under Building regulations, irrespective of whether you need planning permission or not.
We can help you create a loft conversion design that will be approved.
It is also worth bearing in mind that if your house is semi-detached or terraced you will need to notify your neighbours of your proposals under the requirements of the Party Wall Act 1996.
So, what’s stopping you?
As we said, most lofts can be converted.
Similarly most of those things that on the surface look like they might prevent you are actually pretty easy to deal with.
For an average sized home, loft conversions take only 6-8 weeks to complete but they offer years of enjoyment once completed.
We can help bring them to life.