The Latest Loft Conversion Design & Planning Guide
Do you need more space in your home, yet you cannot afford to move out?
Or are you perfectly happy with your home, but you need it to be a bit bigger than it is now?
Then, you can start to plan an exciting project and Studio 20 Architects can assist you during this path of reaching your dream house!
If you own a house, then you have four main options to make changes in your house in this respect: adding a loft conversion, building an extension outwards, excavate a basement, and building a combination of these three options.
However, when doing so, there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, projects regarding basements often can be very tricky, and sometimes basement projects are even not possible to be done in the first place.
Or in the ground-floor extension projects, usually, trade-offs are faced such as having more area for the house but having less area for the garden. That’s why loft conversions, which will also raise the value to your property, might be more beneficial in such situations.
To assist you to tackle with such trade-offs, Studio 20 Architects team prepared an ultimate guide for building loft conversions that is up-to-date - edited for 2020 regulations regarding the loft conversions-.
Can I Convert My Loft?
If your house has a loft, there is a good chance it can be converted into a liveable and cozy space.
However, when you are converting your loft, you will likely have to deal with issues such as getting planning permission or planning the cost of your loft conversion project efficiently. Therefore, at first, you have to consider the answers to the questions below:
● What is the minimum height for a loft conversion?
Is your space at least 2.4 metres high? - Ideally, you do not want to raise the maximum height of your roof either for not needing/getting planning permission or for not raising the building cost.
● Is there enough space to fit a new staircase going into the loft?
The main automatic dealbreaker when converting lofts is fitting the stairs. Even if you think you do not have enough room for the stairs when planning a loft conversion, it might be still possible.
Therefore, talking to an architect when planning a loft conversion might help your conversion project since the architect might suggest the solution that you never thought of regarding the problems you have.
● Is there anything you will have to move when you convert your loft such as a water tank?
It is significant to know what you will have to or you want to move when you are converting your loft to obtain a better loft design.
The Key Point: Knowing What the Function Will Your New Loft Have
One of the common mistakes when building loft conversions are to start the loft conversion without thinking about what the new room is going to be used for since there are several significant decisions you will have to make which are dependent on the function of the new room.
Therefore, if you decide the purpose of the new room such as a new office, a master bedroom, kids’ bedrooms, a playroom, a living room, or a gym, then it would be beneficial to the loft conversion project.
However, this does not mean that once you build loft conversion for a new office, then you cannot use it for the gym. You will not be stuck with your current choice forever.
Yet, to make the best decisions concerning key factors such as the placement of the windows or built-in storage, knowing the function of the new room would help considerably.
If you build a shell and then decide how to fill it, you might have to make compromises from your needs and wants, or further, even make non-suitable adjustments. The best is sorting through and prioritising your loft conversion ideas before starting to build the conversion.
The Main Types of Loft Conversion
After you have checked whether you can convert your loft along with cost and planning regulations, and decided on what you want to do with it, then you can work out which type of conversion is best for you and whether you need to extend your roof.
Four loft conversion types are used most commonly, however, keep in mind that they can be used in combination as well.
Roof Light/Simple Roof
When you want to convert your loft, the simplest option is the roof light.
In this loft conversion type, instead of extending the roof, you’re adding windows that lie at the same angle with the rest of the roof. In this type of loft conversion, most of the work will take place on the inside of your house - since you will need to build a new staircase -, unless you are lucky enough to already have one.
Most loft conversions use dormer windows.
The purpose of using dormer windows towards the outside of your loft is obtaining a flat area, full-height ceiling, and a vertical window inside.
A dormer window has numerous advantages such as creating the extra space that you need, being less noisy when it rains, and being easier to look out than a roof light.
There is a variety of loft conversions by using dormers. Dormer's front and back, narrow dormers, wide dormers, and multiple dormers on the same side of the roof are examples of such conversions.
If you live in a detached, semi-detached, or end-terrace house, then you might convert your loft in the form of a hipped roof.
With a hipped roof, the roof slopes on three (semi-detached/end terrace) or four (detached) sides, and with a hip-to-gable extension, one of those slopes is removed and you build-out to a vertical wall (gable).
As mentioned before, loft conversion types can be used in combination as well. Therefore, a hip-to-gable type of roof extension can be used in combination with a dormer loft extension on one of the remaining slope sides of the roof.
Mansard roof extension is the most ambitious and costly loft extension option.
With mansard roof extension, at least half and sometimes all of the existing roof is replaced with a flat roof with sharply sloped sides.
Mansard loft conversions make you obtain much more new space than hip-to-gable, dormer, and roof light loft conversions.
Therefore, keep in mind that since you are getting the builders to do much more work, you will have to pay a lot more, and it will be more costly than other loft conversion types.
Moreover, to build a mansard roof extension, you have to get planning permission. In some complex areas such as conservation areas, getting planning permission can be difficult, yet not impossible with the guidance of professionals.
As Studio 20 Architects, we provide you with planning application services with our team.
Key Things to Think About When Building a Loft Conversion What Do You Want Your Loft to Look Like from the Outside? When you look at the loft conversions in your neighbourhood, they roughly look the same; having the same size and shape, however, when you look more carefully, the details and the finish of the exterior of the loft conversions are quite different.
Apart from the strictest conservation areas, even many terrace houses have come to look quite different from the neighbours, and the loft conversions do not look identical either in these situations.
Therefore, getting assistance from an architect is beneficial when building a loft conversion to create a structure that will make your house look better. Studio 20 Architects team provides this service with its professional team.
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Cross-ventilation Before starting your loft conversion, you need to check whether your roof is properly insulated. If not, during the loft conversion you have to plan it carefully.
Once the loft conversion insulation and other arrangements have been done, with heat rising from the rest of the house, your loft should be one of the warmest places in your home during winter and should be cool enough to live in summer.
To cool the loft down in summer, there are two options: air conditioning and cross-ventilation. Air conditioning applied in loft conversion might be a good choice if you want it to be less costly and if you want to be greener.
The architect you work with has to be sure that the ventilation in your loft is working well since it is vital not only for the temperature control but also for health reasons.
Where Do the Stairs Go?
When thinking about the new room or new rooms you want to create, most of the time, how they link up with the rest of the house is hard to understand when you are not a professional.
However, the stairs to your loft conversion are crucial to how your new top floor will look, how it will work practically, and how it will fit the regulations regarding the loft conversion.
Therefore, working with an architect on this matter is significant in terms of your loft conversion project’s success and sustainability.
Continuing the existing staircase up a floor is often the logical option, but it might not necessarily work best for your loft conversion. Think carefully about where the best place for the stairs to reach the loft is.
The trade-off between getting the maximum usable space on both floors and a staircase that is easy to use is significant for the success of your loft conversion.
It is not advised, however, if you need to have a bedroom or bedrooms but no bathroom on the top floor, you have to keep in mind that half-asleep people will be using the stairs.
Moreover, with the bedroom, you have to consider how comfortable it will be to carry heavy objects up and down the stairs as a bed base, and wardrobe.
If the only room in your loft is going to be your office, then a spiral staircase right in the middle of the room can be creative and aesthetic.
Most of the time the lofts are used for the things that do not have a place elsewhere in the house such as old kids’ toys, unused gym equipment, suitcases, maybe your winter clothes during summer, vice versa.
Therefore, it is mostly used as storage. If you will convert that space into some other room such as a bedroom, an office, or a gym, you need to think about where you will store the things you kept there before.
You might choose to get minimal and get rid of some of these items, however, not all of them can be irrelevant, therefore, some need to be kept. Your architect needs to design storage into your loft conversion plans, or elsewhere in the house.
One of the key dormer loft conversion tips is having proper blinds. Blinds are very significant when converting your roof into a living space.
While it is desired to have natural light in our home, the natural light also needs to be kept under control in your loft when you want to control it.
For example, if your dormer is a west-facing dormer and you will use your loft as an office, summer afternoons can be oppressively bright. Therefore, relying on do-it-yourself store basic blinds might not be enough.
The blinds that will keep the glare out while not leaving the room completely dark are the ones that fit the best to such dormers.
Moreover, if you are using the room during the day, you will be opening and closing the blinds a lot, therefore, you need to pick blinds with a mechanism that lasts longer, which are more durable to such constant opening and closing movements.
In the next part of the ultimate guide of loft conversion, the regulations covering loft conversions and extensions are covered.