Space in our modern world is one of the main concerns being faced and the constant cry of people who need more but cannot afford to move houses. When living in large cities like London for example, home extensions can really become a problem due to zoning laws, building permission rules and building inspection regulations. When extending your property from the sides or the back is either not possible or affordable, loft conversions are the best option for you.
Simply put, loft conversions can be the ideal solution for you to increase your living space without having to increase floor area. You can easily get rid of all the junk stashed away in your loft and convert it into a home office or extra bedroom.
Loft conversions turn the least used part of your home, in this case the loft into valuable living space. It is an excellent way to increase living space, adding an extra room without having to encroach on the garden space outside the property. Loft conversions add value to the property because you are increasing the living space, making your home so much more functional.
How do you go about getting loft conversions done?
The best and most recommended way is to find a company that specialises in loft conversions. The company can offer a free quote after doing a survey of your loft and surrounding property. A word of caution, cheapest is not always best, especially in the construction line. Talk to people, get recommendations and read reviews of companies before you make a final decision.
You need to first decide on how you plan to convert the loft?
Do you want an extra guest bedroom with bath attached or do you want to move the master bedroom upstairs away from the noise and confusion below?
Maybe you have plans to start a home business but do not have dedicated space to work out of. Your loft conversion plans can change the loft into a compact home office. The choice is yours and one you have to make before you contact the building companies.
Let us assume you have more than enough bedrooms and a study to work out of, but still want to explore loft conversions as a means to increase living space. In that case you may be interested in adding a sunroom or even a conservatory. Something that is tasteful; lets in a lot of sunlight and really gives you a place to escape to when you need solitude.
Laws regarding conversions
The laws have changed considerably and it is no longer difficult to plan loft conversions. It is also far more economical to convert an existing loft into an extra room in the house, than it is to move to another property. Further, the conversion plans you have for your home will not be a dead investment, they increase the value of the property considerably.
When buying a larger property is well outside the scope of your financial capabilities, loft conversions really are the most practical alternative to creating additional living space regardless of what you plan to use the space for.
Loft conversions have really become a lifesaver for many people having a desperate need for additional living space. When you stop to think about it, extending this space into the loft is actually a very practical way of solving the space shortage you are experiencing. Regardless of what you choose to do with the space it will be an excellent investment for you. In case you are wondering what I am talking about when you are going to be shelling out money, let me explain. Loft conversions in effect add another room to your existing living space. This in turn increases the value of your property substantially.
- Consider the current economic situation and high inflation rates prevailing in the real estate market. Would you seriously consider moving house because you need additional living space? I don’t think so, not unless you have money to burn! That’s clear enough but what do you do when your children are no longer small enough to fit in one room but need more space of their own, for example? Fights break out and all hell starts to break loose when people are crammed together like the proverbial sardines! You need to find a solution and find it fast. Loft conversions can save the day.
- You should consider whether your loft can be converted and most lofts can by the way. Your loft should have head room of at least 2.4 meters to be convertible to living space. Now this rule applies in the UK and anything less than 2.4 meters will not receive planning permission to be converted. However, if you can get yourself a really clever builder, there may be a way to fix the problem.
- While a builder can guide you on technical and structural matters, you will want to personalise your loft space. Depending on what you plan to use the room for, you can choose the colors you want the room to be painted. It is not advisable to paint the room black if you plan to use it as a bedroom! So be bold, be creative but take a realistic approach to the colors you choose. Chances are in a few short days you may not like the wild colors you chose to make that statement!
- Furnishings are another area by which you can add your personal touch. Make sure you buy furniture that will fit into the loft. Remember you have to get the furniture up to the top of the house. Minimalist, understated elegance and soft colors rule but it really depends on your personal expressions. Make sure to find furniture that optimizes the space you have. Measure and re-measure to be sure you get it right and only then start the hunt for furniture. You certainly have a wide range to choose from including different period furniture styles.
Provided you know what you want and make the effort to find yourself a really good builder to get the job done for you this could be just the answer you’ve been searching for.
Glossary of styles and terms
A dormer conversion is where the existing roof is extended to allow a vertical window to be placed in the loft. Occasionally these dormer windows will span a significant length of the roof to light several rooms. This option creates more internal loft space but planning permission may be required, especially if the window is at the front of the house.
A mansard conversion is usually used when the existing roof has a very shallow pitch. Typically these conversions will have 70 degree sloping sides and a flat roof, maximising the loft space. Named after the French architect Francois Mansart, mansard conversions will almost certainly require planning permission and tend to be more expensive then dormer conversions.
Possibly the most straight forward type of attic conversion and the least likely to require planning permission. Skylight windows, (normally velux windows) are inserted flush to the roofline to create a light attic.
Most modern houses use “Roof Trusses” to support the roof as oppose to “rafters” in pre-1960 houses. A truss is basically a structural engineering term used to describe a structure where one or more triangles are connected to create high strength.
Any work on loft walls that you share with your neighbour, when converting a loft in a semi-detached or terrace house, needs to conform to the regulations in the ‘The Party Wall etc Act 1996?. The basically requires you to inform your neighbours of any work that you will carry out to the wall. If the dispute cannot be settled then an independent surveyor will have to be called into to oversee an agreed set of conditions.
Sometimes skylight conversions are also referred to as velux loft conversions. Velux are a leading manufacturer of roof windows and they are generally designed to fit flush to the roofline of the existing attic.
An RSJ (rolled steel joist), sometimes referred to as an I-beam or H-beam because of its structural shape, is designed to support a large weight. RSJ’s are placed in the loft to help support the roof once part of the trusses are taken away. Two small holes are made in the roof and the steel beams are inserted in two separate lengths then welded together once in position.