There has been a surge in the uptake of loft conversions in recent years. Many homeowners find they cannot expand their properties outwards. So, to counteract that problem, they go up instead! The loft is usually a seldom-used part of any home. At best, we tend to store things (i.e. junk) up there and forget about it.
But, the lofts in most people’s roofs are cavernous! They provide an ideal location for adding extra rooms in a property. Plus, they also increase the value of the house in question. Sometimes to double-digit figures!
It’s likely you’re reading this because you want a loft conversion. If that’s the case, you need to make some considerations for your project. Otherwise, you might end up making a costly mistake. Especially when it comes to building and planning laws! The following ten points are ones you should think about before you start.
- Are you allowed to do a loft conversion?
For most people, the answer is yes. But, there are some cases where you are not allowed to alter your property. The obvious one is where you don’t actually own the house! Only landlords are allowed to do so.
Sometimes you can conduct loft conversions on houses with listed building status. In any event, you should contact your local authority to get consent before carrying out any work. Doing so will save you time – and money!
- Why do you want a loft conversion?
The strange truth is that some folks want a loft conversion, but they don’t know why they want one! The objective of any conversion is to create a usable and habitable space.
For most people, it’s all about creating an extra bedroom. Sometimes, they might want to move a bedroom to the loft. Doing so will help them create a bigger bathroom and bedrooms downstairs. You need to think about why you want a loft conversion in your home.
- Is your loft big enough to carry out a conversion?
The pitch of some roofs means that one can only stand up in the middle of the loft! An easy way to answer that question is by going up into your loft and walking around in it as it stands. If the answer to question three is yes, that’s great news!
But, don’t despair if the answer is no. One way to get around a low ceiling in the loft is to drop the ceiling of the rooms below it. And, to further maximise roof space, you could get dormer windows installed up there.
- Do you need to get planning permission?
The good news is that planning permission is seldom needed for loft conversions. Of course, there are a few exceptions as you might expect with such rules! Usually, you are okay to do a loft conversion if you don’t significantly alter the structure of the roof.
So, if you were thinking of adding an extra storey to your loft conversion, you’ll need approval. Check the Planning Portal website for further details.
- Where will you fit the staircase?
Planning laws surrounding loft conversions state that habitable rooms must have a permanent staircase. With that in mind, you need to think about where it will go. In smaller terraced homes, you may need to sacrifice some space on the level below. Usually, that means getting rid of the “box room.”
If you’re lucky enough to have a wide landing and open space, you can use that to locate your staircase.
- Are you going to do the work yourself?
Nothing is stopping you from carrying out the loft conversion yourself. If you’re a builder, electrician or plumber, it makes no sense to pay someone else to do the work. But, if you’re a novice DIY enthusiast, it might be too ambitious a job for you to complete.
In any event, it’s worth getting prices from tradesmen to carry out the work for you. And you can identify areas where you can do some work yourself to save money.
- Can you afford to do a loft conversion
Assuming you already got some quotes for the work, are you able to pay for the loft conversion to get carried out? The answer might not always be yes, and you may need to borrow the cash to do so.
Some householders remortgage their properties to free up equity in their homes. They can then use that money to pay for the loft conversion. Others will just take out a loan to cover the costs. In any event, you should make sure you can afford to have the work done.
- How will you insulate your loft space?
You need to bear in mind that there aren’t any extra levels above your loft. As such, it’s likely to get colder during the winter months than other rooms in your home. It’s important to think about how you will insulate your loft conversion.
The usual method is to fit insulation material between the roof tiles and plasterboard. It also makes sense to fit double or triple-glazed windows in the loft too.
- How will your loft conversion comply with fire regulations?
As you can imagine, it is a long way down to the ground floor from the loft of a typical house! It’s for that reason that you need to think about what you’ll do in an emergency.
Some work you may need to carry out includes installing fireproof doors by the stairs. Also, you may need to install a fire escape window in your loft and have an emergency ladder available.
- Will the loft conversion cost less than the increased value of your home?
One final consideration to make is the cost of your loft conversion. You will no doubt have got some quotes to get all the work carried out. But, how much value will it add to your property? It’s important to think about the future value of your home. Chances are, you will want to sell it someday and move to another property.