Making a loft into a comfortable and usable living area is a one of the best and cost-effective ways to develop your house and avoid using any additional space from your garden (as in a home extension). Loft conversions are by far the first choice of most homeowners to create another bedroom, office or bathroom. If you have enough space, you can even create a whole new living area with bedroom, bathroom, kitchen – the lot.
A loft conversion can include a mansard window or dormer, even though a very large loft may not require this and instead has skylights inserted flush with the roof.
Loft Conversion Inspiration
We have collected these websites to give you as much inspiration as possible for your loft conversion. The websites include very useful information and galleries to get you ahead of the game.
First of all you have to work out your maximum and minimum budget, is really bad to leave the work uncompleted. This article can help you out: Building and Renovation Costs in UK.
A loft conversion can proceed without planning permission under certain circumstances.
The Planning Portal is the Government’s official planning website, where is explained everything you need to know about planning permission for a lot conversion. This is what it says:
Under the regulations of 1 October 2008 a loft conversion for your home is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:
- A volume allowance of 40 m3 additional roof space for terraced houses.
- A volume allowance of 50 m3 additional roof space for detached and semi-detached houses, keep in mind that any previous roof space additions must be included within the volume allowances listed above. Although you may not have created additional space a previous owner may have done so. Calculate the area and volume of your works using the Volume Calculator.
- No extension beyond the plane of the existing roof slope of the principal elevation that fronts the highway.
- No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
- Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing home. Use the Brick Visualization Tool for help in select the correct brick to use.
- No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
- Side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor.
- Roof extensions not to be permitted development in designated areas (Designated areas include national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites).
- Roof extensions, apart from hip to gable ones, to be set back, as far as practicable, at least 20cm from the eaves.
You can see a 3D presentation of all of this rules here: Loft Conversions – Mini Guide
You can read the full article at planningportal.gov.uk here: Planning permission for a Loft Conversion
All loft conversions will have to meet the latest building regulations and be certified by the local Building Control Officer. This is because the loft is being converted into ‘habitable space’ which must thus have appropriate levels of health and safety. With this in mind, the following rules are particularly important:
- The structural strength of the new floor has to be sufficient to support people and furnitures.
- The stability of the structure (including the existing roof) must not be endangered.
- Your loft must have a safe escape from fire.
- The stairs must be safely designed to bring you to the new floor.
- A reasonable sound insulation between the conversion and the rooms below has to be present.
- Adequate ventilation must be provided to loft room, this can be done with one or more windows.
- All electrics and plumbing must be safely installed.
The Party Wall Act
What is a party wall?
The Party Wall Act came into force in 1997, so it is now law and gives you rights and responsibilities whichever the side of the ‘wall’ you are on that is whether you are planning a work on a relevant structure or if your neighbour is.
The Party Wall Act does not affect any requirement for Planning Permission or Building Regulation Approval for any work undertaken. Similarly, having Planning Permission and/or Building Regulation Approval does not negate the requirements under the Party Wall Act.
The Party Wall Act comes into effect if someone is want to do work on a relevant structure, for the purposes of the Act ‘party wall’ does not just mean the wall between two semi-detached properties, it covers:
- A wall forming part of only one building but which is on the boundary line between two (or more) properties.
- A wall which is common to two (or more) properties, this includes where someone built a wall and a neighbour subsequent built something butting up to it.
- A garden wall, where the wall is astride the boundary line (or butts up against it) and is used to separate the properties but is not part of any building.
- Floors and ceilings of flats etc.
- Excavation near to a neighbouring property.
For a full explanation of the works that can be done and all the regulations read this article: The Party Wall Act Explained
Finding an architect for your loft conversion
For your work of course you want someone who will provide the best technical expertise and creative skills – at a reasonable cost – to help you to remodel your loft. Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers about their architects. Find the names of architects who designed projects similar to the one you want.
Create a listo f all the architects in your area, and call them by phone and find out whether they would be interested in your project. Remember to ask if there is a fee for an interview. When this is done meet with several prospective architects and ensure that the architect you are meeting is the person who will actually work on your project. Is really important to ask how long the project will take and find out fees and anticipated construction costs.
Before hiring anyone verify their architect’s licensing and other credentials.
Finding a Builder for your Loft Conversion
Like above, personal recommendation is the best route because if you know someone who’s happy with a job and they’ve referred a builder then that builder won’t want to let them down, just as they won’t want to let you down. But if you don’t know anybody who’s had any renovation done recently, check out some impartial websites for advice, for example you can use this websites: findabuilder.co.uk, mybuilder.com, findagoodone.com. Make a list and then call them for a quote. Check all the credentials before hiring them, use this website to do it www.builders.org.uk.