“Don’t move – improve!” You might have seen this mantra recited on various DIY websites, and it does help to explain the rationale for converting a loft rather than moving home. Doing the former can add up to 20% to your property’s value, the HomeOwners Alliance notes.
However, while a loft conversion can be much less hassle than an extension, it’s still no easy project. Here are some checks you must make before deciding whether it’s even a practical possibility.
Measure the Head Height in your Loft
To do that, run a tape measure from the loft’s floor right up to the tallest part of the ceiling. You need at least 2.2m in head height here, the consumer watchdog organisation Which? warns; otherwise, that loft conversion will be off the menu.
While you’re in the loft, assess whether its internal footprint measures at least 5.5m side to side, including the chimney, and 7.5m front to back. If so, this would be another sign you’re good to go.
Look at whether your Roof has Trusses or Rafters
If your home is Victorian, it probably has less loft space than the average twentieth-century home, but that’s not the only reason to consider when your home was built. The time of construction will, after all, affect whether you are looking at a roof with rafters or trusses.
The former run along the roof’s edge, leaving the underlying space mainly hollow. It’s harder but not impossible to convert a space with trusses, as they will need replacing with extra structural support.
Consider how you might need to change the Floor
Where will the staircase go, and how much space will it take up, in the converted loft? Of course, you might not be certain right now, but at least a ballpark idea would help, as even the most space-efficient staircase could lose you more floor space than you were expecting.
However, the right type of loft boarding, like the award-winning loft boarding service from Instaloft, could actually increase floor space, not to mention protect insulation currently beneath the floor.
Consider what Type of Conversion you would Like
There are multiple different types from which to choose, the four main ones being the roof light, dormer, hip-to-gable and mansard varieties. Roof light conversions are easily the cheapest and least disruptive, as the only necessary changes to the roof would be adding skylight windows.
Dormers add extensions protruding from the roof’s slope, while hip-to-gable and mansard conversions are both more adventurous but add more space, too.
Would you need Planning Permission?
The answer is likely to be no, as most loft conversions are usually deemed Permitted Development (PD), Homebuilding & Renovating explains. However, there remain specified parameters to which the design must adhere. For example, any included dormer mustn’t exceed the roof’s highest height.
You can approach your local planning department to learn the applicable terms and conditions, while your loft conversion project will require Building Regulations approval, too. Look particularly at Parts L, K, B and P of those Regulations.