If moving into a house isn’t an option but there’s space in your roof for an extra living area, here’s some advice and considerations you should to take before committing to a big project.
What: sort: of lofts are suitable for conversion?
The general rule is, the steeper the pitch of the roof, the better chance you have of converting it into a new living space. Unless you have a height of at least 2,3m (7ft 6in) over half the floor area, a conversion is probably not practical. Houses built before the Sixties are easier to convert because of the way roofs were constructed back then.
How much do loft conversions cost?
They vary greatly depending on what you want to use them for, the type of plans you use and the sort of house you have. In general, prices start at around £10,000.
What are the planning hurdles?
You need to get Buildings Regulations approval from your local authority. This ensures the conversion will be structurally stable and that it will have the correct ventilation and waste disposal. You don’t normally need planning permission unless you live in a conservation area and your house is listed or if you want to put in dormer windows and any part of the conversion (including the windows) is higher than the existing roof.
It is however vitally important that you get planning permission for your loft if you wish for it to legitimately count as an extra room when you come to sell your property. Legally you wont be able to advertise the extra bedroom if you don’t have the planning permission. In the eyes of the law it will still count as the loft.
What about safety?
Building Regulations state that you need at least one window, in case of fire. As well as a staircase that complies with safety standards, you must install fire doors in the loft that have self-closing devices, as well as in certain other areas of the house. A smoke alarm (ideally mains powered) should also be fitted.
Staircase or a ladder?
This is a point that doesn’t just have practical implications but more so getting a return for the value of your recent project. Due to available hallway space and cost lots of people go to the time to make a fully usable loft extension room but choose to have a ladder for access. Unfortunately in the eyes of a surveyor a ladder will not pass building regulations and you will not be able to sell your house and market the loft as an extra bedroom. According to Direct House Buyer “even if it is fully usable a surveyor will just grade it to be a fancy loft not an extra bedroom”. So it’s advised that if you are going to go to the time and expense to convert your loft it’s worth the extra investment of getting a solid staircase so that you can eventually get a return on your investment or even a profit.