How to plan a loft conversion


How to plan a loft conversion

How to plan a loft conversion

Welcome to part four in the series of “how to plan” articles around home renovations. How to plan a loft conversion. So far we have covered planning a new kitchen, planning a new bathroom and planning general extensions.

In this article, I want to look at planning the loft conversion covering the why? what? who? And types of loft conversion you can have. Yes, there are three types of loft conversion, didn’t you know?

The three types of loft conversion


The Internal Loft Conversion

The first type of loft conversion is the internal loft conversion. This type of loft conversion requires very little alteration to the current exterior of the home. Some additions you may need are skylights, stud walls, insulation and plumbing alterations.

Skylights are windows placed in the roof and stud walls are plasterboard walls found in all new build properties.

Typically insulation and strengthening the floor are issues you come across. These are often the most cost-effective types of loft conversions.



The Remove and Rebuild Conversion

The remove and rebuild loft conversion, also known as the “roof off” of a loft conversion, can be the most expensive of the three.

Usually, you would be removing both parts of your sloping existing roof and adding back a completely new construction. This structure would have very steep sloping walls, nearly as straight as your outer walls with an almost flat roof on top.

You usually only embark on this type of conversion if the headroom is insufficient and would like more roof space. This also is usually defined by the age of your property.

If you have a pre-1960s house, you will usually have a traditional framed and truss style roof frame. This means that ceiling joists and rafters, with supporting timbers, are cut to size on site and assembled.

This type of space can usually be easily opened up for conversion.

If you have a post-1960s property your roof will more than likely be constructed in a factory, using thinner and cheaper timber, but supported by braced diagonal timbers. Whilst easily erected, usually in one day, typically there are no load-bearing walls beneath and you’ll probably need to strengthen the structure with additional support.

This means steel beams would be inserted strategically below the roof to take the added weight your loft conversion will bring. This will also take the weight from your purse or wallet, leaving that feeling considerably lighter.


The dormer loft conversion

Did you know that there are 5 types of dormer conversion?

  1. The Single Dormer – usually installed in conservation areas as they are looked upon favourably by planning permission departments.
  2. The Side Dormer – used to increase head-height in houses with hipped roofs. The side dormer is installed where the access to the loft is found under the hip.
  3. The Full-Width Dormer – this style of loft conversion maximizes the available space often delivering a completely different look and feel to other types of loft conversion.
  4. The L Shaped Dormer – mainly found or constructed on older, Victorian for example styled properties. Usually with a rear addition to the original house. They provide a huge increase in space.
  5. The Hip to Gable – involving one or more of the hips being replaced by a gable wall. This would be constructed where the roof slopes in from the side, front and back. You then extend the roof over the gables to add extra space and headroom.

plan a loft conversion

Notes: just in case you don’t know what a gable wall is, it’s the area of the wall that supports a sloping roof.

Why you may have a loft conversion

People choose to convert their loft space for any number of reasons. The main reasons are for an extra bedroom, living area or home office. Also, loft conversions add a lot of value to a property (in some cases up to 20%) and in turbulent markets like the UK housing market, it could be a case of build up and not sell up.

A loft conversion is a great way to add more space to a home without the added costs of up-scaling and then dealing with the stress of moving home. Often we benefit more when we upgrade familiar surroundings to create a lifestyle than to try and uproot and buy something for practicalities sake.

a well planned loft conversion

The bedroom conversion

When it comes to the bedroom loft conversion, you are never far away from the inspiration. Take a look at these 50 cool bedroom loft conversions and imagine you or your guests taking refuge in a space like this. Pinterest has over 1000 boards you can look at for even more inspiration.

beautiful designed room

Self Contained loft conversion

In and around London many people are converting their lofts into self-contained living spaces. Effectively creating a second income by turning the loft space into a studio flat or apartment.

These are also great if you have older children that you want out of your living space. This way you can still keep a roof over their heads but have your own living space without real interruption.

Self-contained loft conversions can add great value to your property in both lifestyle and bank balance. However, they can be far more costly than a typical bedroom conversion, depending of course on the finish.

nice office

The home office loft conversion

The home office loft conversion has become so prevalent with the rising number of home workers, freelancers and consultants.

Creating a space that is free from the rest of the family home can actually be more worthwhile than you think. Often people choose summer houses as an office at home, but here at Hunt Property Services we think children should play in gardens and adults can work in the loft.

Why don’t you check out some great examples of home office loft conversions here?

Who you may need to help

I’ve heard people say that they can convert a loft on their own. That it’s really easy and as long as you follow the guidelines you can’t go too far wrong. But ask yourself this:

Does your idea require planning permission? Would it be a permitted development?

Will you require special fire-resistant materials or fire safety procedures?

Does your conversion require a building control specialist?

How do you know if you need steel beams? and if you do how do you calculate the size of beam you need?

How do you strengthen the loft floor? What type of insulation do you need? How do you install a skylight or two? Or run electric cables or plumb pipes in?

What happens if you need a new boiler to deal with the additional pressure needed to run the water up?

Doesn’t sound so easy now does it?

These are just a few of the questions that will be thrown at you by your conversion and if you cannot answer them then seek a professional. I never advocate asking friends or family for tradesmen referrals and if you do, please ensure that you do your homework on them.

The building trade is unfortunately awash with poor standards in workmanship and when you may possibly be investing upwards of £30,000 in your conversion you need to ensure you have your references, background checks and insurances in place.

There are a number of people that will be involved in your project

The Architect

Most lofts will need an architect to draw up the plans. They will be able to establish exactly what you need before you go looking for the tradesman. In fact, they will probably have lists of tradesmen that they often work with so feel free to ask for an introduction. Fees can range from £1200 plus for drawings.

Building Regulations

You will most certainly have to deal with your local council when you undertake your project. Expect your fees to be somewhere around £380 for up to 40m2 and £460 for 40m2 to 60m2.

Structural Engineer

You may find that you need to hire a structural engineer to help with the design and to understand how the architect’s plan affect the structure of the house. Expect to pay between £550 and £2000 depending on who, what and where.

The Experienced Builder

You have to get an experienced builder. In preference opt for a specialist loft conversion company. Still, ensure you complete the background checks but look at websites like check-a-trade to see what other people are feeding back about them.

The Estate Agent

Always talk to your estate agents. They know exactly what kind of loft spend you should consider ensuring that you get a return on your money. Not only that but typically in areas of loft conversions they usually follow suit and there will be a particular style that sells well.

Now enjoy your extra space

So we’ve covered some of the major points you could encounter when learning how to plan a loft conversion and hopefully you feel you have learned something.

I’d really advise you to read our other how-to articles I’ve written as we’ve definitely covered off a lot among it all.

Creating a place of rest or games room or even a cinema room can add value to your lifestyle and that’s what is important.


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Mariana Woll About the author

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