Loft conversions: what to know

Converting your empty loft space into a liveable area can be a cost-efficient way of adding extra value to your home, whilst increasing the overall liveable space. But where do you start and what needs to be considered?

The benefits of a loft conversion

The biggest advantage of a loft conversion is the monetary savings – typically up to 20% of a property’s value. 

This conversion type is particularly popular for families as it’s a good way to gain more space without having to move home. It’s also less disruptive than taking on a large extension.

Conversion ideas

A converted loft space can have many uses, such as an additional bathroom or bedroom, or even a study or playroom.

If you can’t decide on a single use, there’s always the option of making it multi-use – perhaps a nice living room that combines as a spare bedroom.

Just beware of the amount of space you have when creating a floor plan. Ensure you don’t overestimate what’s available, especially if you have angled ceilings which restrict movement.

Can I do it myself? If not then who?

It’s an arduous task to say the least, which will certainly require planning department approval (see more below).

Unless you have the skills necessary to complete a project like this, we’d suggest contracting a specialist to take it on. Here are some options:

  • A specialist loft conversion company. Working solely on loft conversions, they’ll have a design department that can mock up the correct drawings and bring them to life, as well as obtain the required approvals.
  • An experienced builder. Certain builders have loft conversion experience and could offer you a service similar to that of a loft conversion company.
  • An architect or building surveyor. They’ll be able to mock up the correct drawings and designs and obtain the required approvals. They can also assist in finding you a suitable builder and manage the project for you.

Make sure they visit the site to get accurate quotes – obtain enough of them to the point where you’re comfortable enough making an informed decision.

It might also be worth asking how – whoever you instruct – will minimise dirt and disruption during the conversion and what they’ll do to protect your property from water damage and the roof itself.  

Planning permission

This isn’t always needed. The exceptions are if you’re extending the roof space or exceeding specified limits. We’d suggest checking with your local planning department to get a clearer indication of what you are and aren’t allowed to do.

Loft conversions need to meet building regulations for the purpose of guaranteeing the structural quality of the new floor, making sure the existing structure is not at risk as a result of the conversion, and ensuring there’s adequate sound insulation between the loft and the room below.

Lastly, make sure your loft conversion falls under The Party Wall Act 1996 where you need to give adjoining owners notice.

When you’ve planned carefully and have the right designs and contractors in place, there’s no reason why your loft conversion shouldn’t go smoothly. We’d still however recommend having a contingency fund on hand in case you run into any problems along the way.

But there’s no question that a loft conversion would be rewarding for your home, providing additional usable space and extra value.