Loft Conversions UK: Where To Start

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Loft conversion UK

Getting a loft conversion can be an exciting decision to make. It’s a great way to add value to your property, as well as giving you extra space in your home. But it can be difficult to know how to get started. 

If you are looking to convert your loft and are unsure where to start, check out our loft conversion guide where we will be looking at all things conversions, from types, costs, permissions and regulations. 

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Can I convert my loft?

Before you get carried away with the finer details of loft conversions, the first question you will need to ask yourself is whether your loft space is suitable for a loft conversion project. 

The majority of properties will come with an allowance for permitted development (PD), which means you will be able to go ahead with your project without the need for planning permission

If you live in a terraced house, then the development will not be able to exceed 40 cubic metres and if you live in a semi-detached property then the development cannot exceed 50 cubic metres. 

If your property is located in a conservation area or your roof is not tall enough then the process may get more complicated. 

Can I convert my loft?

Is my loft suitable for a conversion? 

In order to check whether or not your loft is suitable for a conversion, you have three main ways to check. These include: 

  • Footprint:A good way of checking the suitability of your property is to measure the floorplan. As a minimum, your loft should measure 5,500mm side to side (inclusive of your chimney) and 7,500 mm front to back. 
  • Roof pitch: Another way that you can check the suitability of your loft is by measuring the angle of your roof. As a rule of thumb, the higher the pitch angle you have, the higher your central head height will be. 
  • Internal height: In order to check whether you have room for a conversion, you will need to measure from the top of the ceiling joist to underneath the ridgeboard in the apex. In order for you to have enough room to convert, you will need to measure 2,500mm. 

What will I use my loft conversion for? 

Now that you have established whether or not your property is well suited to an attic conversion, it is time to plan how you will use your new space. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to uses for your new loft space. Below, we take a look at some of the more practical options for your newest room: 

Practical uses:

  • Extra bedroom
  • Home office
  • New bathroom 

Luxury uses: 

  • Walk in wardrobe 
  • Home gym
  • Cinema room
  • Hobby room 
  • Library
  • Playroom
  • Therapy room
  • Music room 
  • Rental space 

How much will my loft conversion cost?

The question that is likely at the forefront of your mind at this stage of the conversion project is, how much is this going to cost? Whilst there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, the average cost of a UK loft conversion will be around £50,000, but this is likely to change based on the following factors: 

  • Existing roof structure 
  • The type of conversion you are undertaking 
  • The size of your loft
  • The condition of your loft 
  • The time needed to complete 
  • Where the property is situated
  • The style and quality of the conversion 

According to data from CheckATrade, this is the average time and cost necessary to complete the following conversions: 

Type of conversion Average cost  Timescale
 Velux £27,500 4-6
 Dormer £50,000 10-12
 Hip to gable £60,000 10-12
 Bungalow £75,000 10-12
 Modular £50,000 2-3
 Manscard £65,000 8-10
 Shell £30,000 8-10

What are the different types of loft conversion?

Your next step is to decide on what type of loft conversion you wish to have installed. With so many available, it can be hard to narrow down your options to the one that is not only best suited for your property, but also to your tastes and wants. Below, we take a closer look at the most common types of loft conversion available: 

Dormer loft conversion

The first conversion type we will be looking at is a dormer loft conversion. It is a popular decision due to its ease of installation and cost-effectiveness. If you decide to get a dormer loft conversion, it will project out vertically from the sloping section of the roof and instead of roof lights it will use standard windows. They may not be the most aesthetically pleasing out of all of the options, however, they are a great way to add headroom and fall under the permitted development. 

Mansard loft conversion

Mansard conversions are ideal for those with terraced or period properties. They are effectively adding a storey onto your home so you will need to be wary that a party wall agreement will more than likely be needed for this conversion. Mansard loft conversions work by altering the roof structure, keeping the roof flat and adding windows into the structure. Whilst they are great for adding bathrooms and ensuites, you should take into consideration that a mansard loft conversion is often more pricey, time-consuming, and will more than likely require planning permission. 

Hip to gable loft conversion

If you have a semi-detached property or a bungalow, then a hip-to-gable loft conversion may be the way forward for you. This means that the slanted end of your roof will be straightened in order to create a vertical wall. The existing roof will then be taken back and the end wall will be built up to form a new gable. This will help to create a good amount of headroom and space internally. 

Velux conversion

If you are looking to convert on a budget, then a Velux, or a roof light loft conversion as it is also known, is the way to go. The space remains the same but with windows and stairs added and the floor will need to be reinforced. You will also need to have electrics, plumbing, and insulation added in order for the space to become habitable. They are great for drawing in natural light and ideal for smaller lofts. 

Modular conversion 

A modular loft conversion is often pre-made and fabricated off-site before they are craned into the property after the roof has been taken off. Because of this, modular conversions are often quick and require very little on-site labour. There are even options when you are designing to include packages with doors, windows, electrics and bathrooms. Another positive is that usually, your modular loft company will be able to organise planning permission approval on your behalf. 

Do I need planning permission and building regulations for my loft conversion project?

As far as loft conversion projects are concerned, you should not normally require planning permission. Planning permission would only apply if you are extending the roof space or you are exceeding any specified limits. Because of this, it is always wise to check with your local planning department and consult the permitted development guidelines in order to understand what is legally allowed. 

Building regulations on the other hand are required for a loft extension or conversion. They are in place in order to guarantee that structural elements are not compromised in the building work. This means aspects such as the floor’s structural strength are safe,  the stability is not affected and the insulation is up to code. 

What do building regulations state? 

  • Windows– Any windows you have fitted must be big enough to escape from in the event of a fire. This means that egress window openings will be required to serve all first-floor inhabitable rooms (not bathrooms). These openings will need to be at least 450mm x 450mm and at least 0.33m2 in area. If you have opening roof lights, then these will need to be top opening and be between 800mm and 2,200mm from the floor.
  • Smoke alarms– Loft conversion building regulations require that mains-powered smoke alarms must be present on each floor of the house. They must all be interlinked so that if one fire alarm is activated, they all go off at the same time. 
  • Sprinkler– If you have an open-plan home, then you may find the staircase lands in an open space. If this is the case, then a sprinkler system will more than likely be required. 
  • Fire door– You will also need to have your loft room separated by a fire door that will need to be located either at the top or bottom of the new staircase. Furthermore, any current doors in your property will need to provide 20 minutes of fire resistance. 
  • Fire protection– Further fire regulations state that any new floor joists in your loft conversion will need to offer a minimum of 30 minutes of fire protection. 
  • Staircase– Should your loft conversion add a third storey to your property, you will be required to have a protected stair enclosure that will lead to down to the exterior exit door. If your staircase does not rise from your hallway, then you can either keep the staircase enclosed within a hallway that leads to the door, or you can enclose the staircase in a lobby at the base of the door. 

Will I need a party wall agreement? 

A party wall agreement is part of the Party Wall Act 1996, which is a framework for preventing and resolving any disputes that may crop up as a result of the development. The purpose of the agreement is to protect both parties and give notice of works. 

As long as you have no shared wall with a neighbour and you are putting your loft extension onto a detached house then you will have no need for a party wall agreement. 

If your property is situated on top of a block of flats or is a terrace or semi-detached property, then you will need a wall party agreement with your immediate neighbours. 

Conversion on a budget

If you are looking to complete your loft conversion on a budget, these are some of the best ways you can help to cut costs: 

  • Use your roof line to your advantage– If you are in the fortunate position of having the space in your loft for the conversion you want, then you should avoid altering your existing roof line in order to create further space. Rather than altering your existing roof structure and increasing costs, you could add Velux windows and keep costs down. 
  • Choose carefully – When it comes to deciding how you will go forward with your loft conversion, you are left with lots of options. Will you go through a loft conversion firm or will you use a builder? However, you decide to complete your project, read up on your options, be sure to get plenty of quotes and read reviews from several balanced sources. 
  • Work around your plumbing– This is a good rule of thumb for any building work. Whilst moving your plumbing across a room may be for the designs of your dream, it can also end up adding a lot to the final bill. 
  • Avoid big changes– The beauty of a loft conversion is that it can be completed within permitted development rights. This means you get to bypass the hassle and cost of planning permission. 

What to look out for when doing a loft conversion UK

Now we have looked at the advantages of converting your loft, we will take a look at some of the disadvantages of converting the loft space: 

Stairs– An aspect of your loft conversion that you may struggle with is the stairs to the loft. As we have already looked into, there are building regulations that will need to be abided by, such as a minimum 2-metre head clearance both above and under the stairs. 

Fire escape – Whilst there are no regulations surrounding fire exits, however, you are legally required to incorporate methods of fire prevention and detection as well as considering some kind of escape. 

Insulation– When having a loft conversion fitted, you may find that your insulation needs redoing or improving. If you decide against this, then you risk losing the certification for the work not being granted. 

Will I need to inform my insurance company of my loft space conversion?

Yes, you will. It is imperative that you inform your home insurance company before you have any work done to your property, regardless of whether you require planning permission or not. A loft conversion will potentially open up your property to the elements, and as a result, may increase your need to claim. You don’t want to risk invalidating your insurance and being out of pocket, all because you failed to alert your insurance company. 

Furthermore, by getting a loft conversion, you will be increasing the value of your property. You will need to inform your insurance company to be sure that you have the correct buildings and content insurance. 

This covers everything you need to know about loft conversions UK, if you have any insight, questions, or queries about the matter, please feel free to get in touch

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photo of Alexandra Ventress

Alexandra is a junior content producer who enjoys writing articles and finding out more about the property market. Read more about Alexandra here.

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About Alexandra Ventress 91 Articles
Alexandra is a junior content producer who enjoys writing articles and finding out more about the property market. Read more about Alexandra here.

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