At its most basic a loft conversion can be a quiet place to set up your Hornby model railway, with a flip-down ladder for access and simple Velux windows. But a temporary staircase means it will not count as extra living space when you come to sell, so generally it’s a mistake to do it in this way. At Ask My Architect we will ensure you get the best end result, whether you want the space to flow seamlessly on from the rest of the house or you just want to make a statement with a light-filled studio space, new master bedroom with en-suite or one or two additional bedrooms for your growing family.

If the last time you looked in your loft was to store in a few surplus boxes when you first moved in, it is time to find out what space you have got to potentially utilize. Take a tape measure and note the ceiling height - it needs to be ideally no less than 2.4 metres from existing floor level to underside of the existing ridge line to give enough headroom once the conversion has taken place. However the ceiling level of the floor below can also be dropped if required, this will add significantly to the cost and disruption of the overall project and should be avoided but can be considered as a possibility.

The steeper the slope (or pitch) of the roof, the more suitable it will be for conversion. Adding a Dormer which extends out from the original roof to the rear or side is a great way of adding headroom and usable floor space.Dormers can be the size of a single window or they can span a sizeable chunk of the roof and contain several windows or even a double door set with a Juliet Balcony to give maximum light levels and views from the highest part of your home. It is also possible to extend to the side from a hipped roof - in other words build out from the sloped side of the roof to make the edge flush with the exterior wall, this is called a hip to gable extension and is often used in conjunction with a dormer to create the maximum amount of additional space possible.

Planning permission is not normally required unless you are in a conservation area. However permission is required where you extend or alter the roof space and it exceeds specified limits and conditions. A good reference for advice and guidance on what is allowed can be found in the Planning Portal at the following link –http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/commonprojects/loftconversion 

Building regulations approval is required to convert a loft or attic into a liveable space. If you decide to create a liveable space (a ‘liveable space’ is where you intend to use the room as a normal part of your house, this includes spare bedrooms which may be used infrequently) in an existing loft space of a home it is likely to require a range of alterations. Many of these could have an adverse impact on the building and its occupants if they are not properly thought out, planned and undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the legislation.

It is unlikely that the existing ceiling joists will be adequate to support the weight (loads) that arise from the construction, contents and use of a typical habitable room developed in a loft. To overcome this problem new floor joists would need to be installed to take these new loads.  These can normally be placed between the existing ceiling joists and will probably be larger than the existing joists. If the existing walls below are adequate then the new floor joists may be supported on them. Otherwise additional support  such as steel or timber flinch beams  should be introduced which in turn will be required to be adequately supported and provided with fire resistance. It is also important to understand that you are effectively adding an additional floor to your house and this changes the fire strategy of your home normally requiring a hard wired smoke and fire alarm throughout your property.

At Ask My Architect we will visit your property and take the necessary dimensions and quickly ascertain what the possibilities are as part of a design consultation.  When deciding to convert your loft it is important that the end result provides the space, light, height and wow factor your loft can provide.

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