Loft Conversion

Velux windows set into roof transforming the loft conversion. Image credit Velux

Thinking of Converting Your Loft?


Do you want to make better use of your loft? If so, there are a number of ways to achieve this, although you need to be aware of the rules regarding planning permission and building regulations relating to lofts.

Under new regulations, with effect from 1st October 2008, planning permission is not required for all loft conversions, but this is subject to a number of limits and conditions. These can be found on the government planning website at: www.planningportal.gov.uk/england/.

However, building regulations approval is needed if you intend to convert a loft or attic into a liveable space. Details of these can also be found on the government planning website, and requirements include:

  • Ensuring that the floor is of sufficient strength
  • Making sure that the stability of the structure is not endangered
  • Adequate escape from fire
  • Safely designed stairs to the loft
  • Sound insulation between the loft and the rooms below

The full requirements depend on the intended use for the loft, so it is best to consult the above mentioned website and/or your local planning department before carrying out any work.

Even if you just want to board out the loft for storage, you should seek advice from your local building and planning department, because the joists that support the floor of the loft may not have been designed to support heavy loads. As they also support the ceiling lining of the rooms below, it is important not to overload them.

Planning Your Loft Conversion

Empty, unused loft spaces can be converted into rooms or just boarded for useful space

Rather than commit to a full loft conversion, you may decide to improve the space by adding lighting or a loft ladder, for example. Any electrical work required to add lighting will be subject to building regulations as well. You should also bear in mind that the addition of a loft ladder does not mean that you can class the loft as an extra room if you put your house up for sale. More help and advice for loft conversions can be found on the channel 4 website at:
www.channel4.com

If you plan to undertake a full loft conversion, there are a number of points worth bearing in mind:

  • You should have an idea of what you want to achieve, fix a budget accordingly, and stick to it.
  • Be aware that a loft will suit some uses better than others. For example, it may make a useful office, or games room, but not a dining room, as it would be too far away from the kitchen.
  • Think about aesthetics; if you extend the loft outwards, make sure that the extension isn’t too big, and that the bricks and tiles match the rest of the house.
  • Is the available space sufficient for your intended purpose?
  • If you are converting the loft into an extra bedroom, would it be feasible to add an en suite, in terms of cost, space and the practicalities of extending the hot and cold water supply into the new bathroom?
  • Will you be able to extend your central heating system to heat the new room?
  • You may want to retain part of the loft for storage space.

You could opt to use a company that specialises in loft conversion. They will handle everything for you; including surveying the property, and ensuring that building regulations and planning guidelines are met. One such company is Econoloft. Their website is at: www.econoloft.co.uk.

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