One of the best ways to add additional living space and maximise the potential of your property is by investing in a loft conversion. However, whether you are looking to convert your loft space into a home office, guest bedroom or a new master bedroom and ensuite bathroom, planning this kind of work can be tricky. That’s why we would always recommend you speak to a professional before undertaking any work. They will be able to advise you on loft conversation planning permission and discuss conversion ideas that are both practical and stylish, while ensuring the fire safety and structural integrity of the property is retained. In the following post we will outline what is potentially involved in the process.
Can Your Loft Actually be Converted?
Even before you contact a loft conversion company and find out the average price of a loft conversion, it makes sense that you first figure out if you can convert your loft. Fortunately, there is a very easy way to do this. You need to go up to your loft and measure the available height from the tallest part to where you are standing. If this measures at 2.2m or more, it is likely that your loft can be converted. That’s not to say if there is a lower head height that it can’t be converted, it just may cost a considerable amount more. When dealing with lower heights, there may be the option for roof extensions, involving the lifting or raising of your roof or to lower the ceilings in your property.
Other issues that dictate whether a loft conversion is possible with your property include the structure of the roof. Is it, for instance, post-1960’s trusses or traditional rafter roof? Although a roof with trusses can be converted, it requires additional work and support structurally from steel beams. By consulting with conversion companies, you will be able to work out if its possible and the possible loft conversion price.
Will a Conversion Add Value?
Obviously, even if it is possible to convert your loft space, you need to consider if it will indeed add value. Nationwide Building Society, at one point, basing their calculations on the average price of houses at the time, found that loft conversions could increase the value by 22%. It’s important to note, though, that this figure is based on the conversion involving a new double bedroom as well as an ensuite bathroom. If your home is valued at less than £110,000 it may not be worth the investment of a loft conversion. Typically, though, as with many things related to real estate, it comes down to your location. In city centres, the home counties and London, obviously, loft conversions will add greater value than other parts of the country.
If there are any doubts, you are best speaking to a loft conversion company and your local real estate agent for more advice.
How Much is a Loft Conversion?
As you may be able to imagine, it’s difficult giving an estimate here on the average price of a loft conversion, because every house and indeed, every loft is different. Rather than just speaking to one loft conversion company, it is much better to speak to several building contractors and conversion companies so that you can get the very best deal. Be warned though that it could cost you between £20,000 and £50,000 depending on the structure of your property’s roof, the size of loft conversion you want and the design.
Do you Need Planning Permission?
Although you may be under the illusion that all conversions and extensions need planning permission, there are many loft conversions that don’t. Permitted Development is an allowance that means any building work that falls within specific limits is okay to go ahead without permission. As a rule of thumb, you do not need to apply for planning permission if you are adding a space that doesn’t go beyond 40 cubic metres in a terraced property or 50 cubic metres in detached and semi-detached properties and if the building materials used on the exterior are similar in appearance to the rest of the property. Other conditions you need to be aware of, if you want to avoid the need for planning permission, is that loft conversion does not extend higher than your property’s highest point or that it doesn’t extend beyond the existing roof slope.
You also need to be aware that permitted developments are not applicable to listed buildings or flats and are limited in areas of conservation. As the rules and regulations about planning permission and permitted development though, and as they vary from local authority to local authority, it is crucial that you seek out professional advice before you even plan out work.
Don’t Skip Building Regulations
Although planning permission is not always required, you need to ensure that your loft conversion has the consent of Building Regulations. Building Regulations concerns that work is carried out to a reasonable standard and that the home is energy efficient and safe. Rather than the look and use of the conversion, as covered by planning permission. Building control inspectors will be keen to look at areas of the project such as thermal insulation, the stairs, fire escapes and structural support.
As such, to qualify for any alterations to the structure of the property to receive approval by building regulations, it needs to be specified by a fully-qualified structural engineer. Because most loft conversions transform homes into three-storey properties, there needs to be a landing built into the design for fire safety, but it could also mean that you need to install thicker fire doors on any of the habitable rooms that can be assessed from the staircase. It is also important to apply for a building completion certificate, because when you sell the property, the buyer’s solicitor will want to see one and it could bring down the price of your property without it.
Do you Need an Architect?
While it’s true that there’s no hard and fast rules that architects need to be involved in the process of designing a loft conversion, it is a good idea to discuss your plans with a few or even architectural designers. Many offer the initial callout for free, and it is possible that they may present you with conversion ideas that don’t increase the cost too much, while adding increased value to the project.
Most architects either charge a fixed fee that can often be negotiated between you and them or they will charge for a percentage of the build. In the end, you should have a tailormade design that meets your requirements and needs though it could add to the overall cos. Alternatively, you could save the hassle and extra costs, by hiring a loft conversion company.
Considers the Staircase Carefully
The position and the design of the staircase is a crucial component that can either make a loft conversion a success or a failure. You need to allow a good amount of head space to fall in line with building regulations, without them taking up the most useful and highest point in your loft. Also due to building regulations, it is likely that you will need to have the top of the staircase walled in and with its own separate door.
Also, Think Carefully About the Windows
Another important decision you need to make when converting your loft is that the windows allow for enough ventilation and natural light. Some great options open to you, include gable windows, dormers and rooflights. Rooflights are a great choice for simpler conversions as structural alterations are not involved as much. They also have the benefit of being less expensive and not requiring planning permission.