The loft is widely regarded as one of the simplest and least disruptive spaces to convert into a more meaningful and useful room.
Not only is it less stressful than uprooting and moving house for a bigger home, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) revealed the average loft conversion is just a third of the cost of moving to a property with an additional room. A loft conversion could also increase the value of your current home by as much as 25 per cent.
So what are the practical considerations when looking to transform a loft space into a comfortable bedroom, study or additional living room?
A loft conversion is only possible providing you have enough height clearance for the potential room. A general rule of thumb is that the highest point of the roof to the floor should be a minimum of 2.3 metres. For living space at least half the loft space should be this tall in an ideal world.
Roof and floor strengthening
Owners of pre-war buildings with steeply-pitched roofs will also have to consider the structure of the loft conversion. In some cases lofts will require additional strengthening using steel beams to underpin the floor and roof itself.
Building regulations stipulate that if a loft is to be converted into a bedroom, bathroom, study or living room it requires a permanent staircase. However, the stairs do not need to be as wide as the steps on lower flights elsewhere in the home.
It can be difficult to envisage your loft as a credible living space if there is a lack of natural light upstairs. One way to transform your loft conversion is to consider installing roof windows or skylights to bring light and extra ventilation to the room. You could also consider one of our Aero Access skylights if you want a fully-opening roof window that could potentially provide a point of access to a roof terrace or other outdoor roof space.
Planning permission is not required for every loft conversion. The rules were in fact relaxed back on October 2008, but it still might be worth checking before carrying out any serious work. You will require planning permission if: a) you live in a listed building or in a conservation area, b) if any part of the extension will be higher than the original roof or overlook neighbours, c) if the house has already been extended to the maximum volume within permitted development rights.
Part L of the Building Regulations insists loft spaces must have a good level of insulation to deal with extreme temperatures both in winter and summer months. Fibre insulation blankets are useful for walls and ceilings and should be 150-250mm thick in order to meet thermal, sound and fire insulation regulations.
Your loft conversion plans must comply with standards of fire resistance. A smoke detector should be fitted; any loft with a floor more than 7.5 metres above the ground level should also have a sprinkler system. Visit UK Building Standards to see the latest regulations online today.