Checklist for a Successful Loft Conversion

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Loft conversions are one of the best possible ways of converting unused space in your house into something that you have been wanting forever. A loft conversion can be a game-changer for the property, as it adds value along with the benefit of providing you with extra usable space. In a study by Abbey Lofts in London, they found that the increase in value of the house after a loft conversion was almost 25%.

It is one of the smartest and most innovative ways of renovating your property; therefore, it requires extra consideration on your part. It is a fairly sizable and expensive project and has got hundreds of different points to consider before actually going through with it.

The loft conversion project is not straightforward because of the major building work and the amount of investment made in the project. Therefore, exploring all the things that could go wrong and others that would make it a successful and worthy investment are important.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself before making up your mind about a loft conversion in your home,

Is your loft suitable for a conversion?

Assessing your loft’s suitability for conversion before you cash into your attic is important, as it helps you put numerous factors into consideration, including,

  1. Is there enough internal head height?

Measuring from the top of floor joists to the bottom of the ridge beam, there should be a minimum of 2.2 meters of headroom available for a loft conversion to be suitable. The limit is often set to 2.4 meters to avoid any feelings of being trapped in a small box later.

If the headroom available is less than 2.2 meters, there are some options available for the loft conversion to happen, but they are costly and time-consuming.

  1. What is the structure of the roof pitch?

Traditional frame-type structures and steep roofs make the conversion an easy process as they allow for more space. Also, ensure to measure the angle of the roof, as the higher the pitch angle, the higher the central head height of the room will be.

The rafters of the roof might be required to strengthen with additional supports as with a loft conversion the weight that the original rafters were supporting increases manifolds.

  1. Are there any obstructions?

The presence of water tanks and chimney stacks is a common problem in older homes. You must turn their locations into an advantageous one for yourself so that your loft conversion turns out to be obstruction-free.

What will be the cost of a loft conversion?

A spacious and well-heightened loft will automatically reduce the costs involved in the conversion. It makes the installation of large beams and rafters easier, without any major construction job.

The important factors that affect the costs of a loft conversion are.

  • The amount of space available
  • The type of loft conversion that you decide to choose
  • The place where you live
  • The nature and structure of the roof
  • The amount of internal finish that you need

Along with the costs involved in the loft conversion, the costs required to cover any damage or additional work required in the lower levels of the house are also considered.

Some of the additional costs involved in the entire conversion project are,

  • The fees of the contractor, the architect, and the builder
  • The charges of planning permission and building regulation’s applications
  • If you need any changes made to the party wall, the fees of the party wall surveyor will also be included.
  • The costs and fees of the structural engineer

What are the building regulations that you need to keep in mind?

Unlike planning permissions, building regulations are a must when you are converting a loft. These regulations ensure that the construction work complies and conforms with the minimum safety and performance standard guidelines.

A building control surveyor inspects the site and checks for the following,

  • Structural stability of joists, roof, foundations, etc
  • Thermal insulation
  • Sound insulation
  • Fire escape and safety routes

You can entail building regulation approvals in two possible ways,

  • First, you submit a notice 48 hours before the work commences on the site. This is a cost-effective and easy method, and it can be used for straightforward projects that don’t require detailed information and drawings.
  • The second one is to submit a full-planned draft of what all you are going to do in your loft conversion project. This is a time consuming yet effective method

Once the plan is confirmed and approved, you receive a completion certificate that gives you the green light to go through with the project.

Are planning permissions required?

Most of the conversions are straightforward and thus, don’t require planning permissions; however, sometimes, the procedure of conversion does not fall under the Permitted Developments. In such cases, planning permissions are a must to proceed further.

There are certain parameters that you will need to consider to figure out if you need planning permissions or not, like the total volume of additions, the roof height, dormers, or any other extensions that you are getting, etc.

In case you are confused about whether you need to apply for planning permissions or not, your builder, architect, or the supervisor you hired can help you understand better.

Who should you hire to accomplish your loft conversion?

While you plan the conversion, hire a professional architect or designer. He or she might help in getting better options and understanding. Choosing the right people is necessary as it affects the entire project.

Some of the options are,

  1. Select an architect or technician.

They are professional people and will prepare designs and drawings for you. They will make it easier for you to understand the project and also get approvals for the same as and when required.

  1. Hire a loft conversion specialization company

These companies are your one-stop-shop for all your loft conversion requirements. They have separate departments that will work in coordination with one another to bring your dreams to reality with the utmost dedication and creative mindset.

  1. Hire an experienced builder

Not all, but, certain builders have experience with conversions, and they might be able to provide you with the required insight and understanding for the project.

For hiring the best builder, architect, or company, you should check credentials, reviews, and explore their past work. This gives you a better understanding of selecting the very best for your dream project.

For a fair estimation of the costs, get at least a minimum of three quotes from them. Go online, check for accreditations, and ask for recommendations to hire the best.

What are some of the other vital things to keep in mind?

  1. Installation of stairs

The ideal location to install the staircase is either in line with the roof ridge or have it as access run from the existing stairwell. If these options are not viable with your plans, you can look out for other options while bearing in mind that you don’t lose too much space that your loft conversion is no longer worthwhile.

In reality, the actual position and plans related to the staircase depend upon the layout and design of the floor.

  1. Fixing and changing the ceiling and floor joists

Parts of your floor and ceiling will need up-gradation in their joists to support the additional weight that comes with the conversion. There are many ways to approach the same, either you can add additional joists to the existing ones, or in some cases, you just add completely new joists.

If there is limited space, the idea of thick joists should be avoided as they will decrease the available room height.

  1. Loft insulation

To enjoy the area of your attic with utmost comfort, it is essential to insulate the loft. Your roof and the floor need to be insulated carefully, as they are checked by the building authorities to ensure that maximum energy-saving methods are in use. Some of the common ways of doing the same are,

  • The cold roof method

The space between the rafters is filled with 70mm thick slab foam insulation that also ensures that there is a space of 50mm left between the insulation and the roofing felt.

  • The warm roof method

100mm thick Celotex rafters are used over the roof that is followed by tiles and tile battens. It is most commonly used with dormer options and flat roofs.

The insulation of the floor can be achieved by lying thick carpets between the joists.

  1. Ventilation

To maintain good air quality and avoid any breathing problems, it is imperative to keep the loft as ventilated as you can. The loft is made airtight to maximize energy efficiency, but at the same time, it becomes essential to introduce ways that allow for air exchange with the outer surroundings.

Immediate ventilation can be provided via windows, background through tiles and walls, and areas like bathrooms and kitchen require exact ventilation mechanisms.

  1. Fire safety

A safe means of escape in any kind of emergency is a must when building a loft and also from the perspective of getting approvals from the building regulations committee. There are no existing ways of escaping while you convert your one-story house to a multi-story house with the loft conversion project. This means that you need to additionally keep your focus on creating a safe escape route for the same.

Some of the common yet effective methods that you can opt for are,

  • The windows should be large enough to support you getting you out of the loft and should be maintained at a height that is suitable for jumping.
  • The staircase should be such that it allows a person to escape from the house if required.
  • The new floor joists installed should have tolerance for heat for at least a minimum duration of 30 minutes.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed without fail on every floor of the house, and it should be ensured that they are all interconnected.

Keeping this checklist in mind will drive a successful and beautiful loft conversion for you!


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