If your loft isn’t being used or has just become a dead storage space, a loft conversion may be the ideal solution for you.
The conversions can also add value to your property, making them a great return on investment in some cases.
To achieve your dream space, we’ve put together the essential guide to planning a loft conversion with the three key questions you need to ask before carrying out any work.
1. Do loft conversions need planning permission?
Generally, most loft conversions won’t need planning permission.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Your loft conversion will need planning permission if it:
- Goes beyond a volume allowance of 40 cubic metres additional roof space for terraced houses or 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses.
- Extends past the highest part of the roof – or beyond the plane of the existing roof slope of the principal elevation that fronts the highway.
- Uses materials different in appearance to the rest of the house.
- Uses verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
- Uses side-facing windows that aren’t obscure-glazed.
- Has a roof extension, apart from hip to gable ones, that isn’t set back at least 20cm from the original eaves.
- Has a roof enlargement that overhangs the outer face of the wall of the original house.
These restrictions are based on regular houses. For any houses or listed buildings in heritage, protected and conservation areas, loft conversions could impact the building or surrounding area and will need planning permission.
2. What essential items to do you need to make it safe?
To ensure that your loft conversion is safe, there are certain building regulations that you must adhere to.
For loft conversions above two-storey houses, you’ll need:
- A 30-minute fire-resistant floor
- A 30-minute fire-resistant stair enclosure leading to its own final exit
- Fire doors to all rooms expect bathrooms and WCs
- At least one mains-operated smoke alarm with battery back-up installed in the circulation space
For loft conversions above a single-story house, these safety restrictions don’t apply. However, both types of houses require at least one escape window to be installed in the loft conversion.
The escape window needs an opening of at least 0.33m² that is no more than 1.1m above floor level.
3. What kind of roof window or skylight does your loft conversion need?
By serving as an escape route, roof windows are a fundamental safety feature for your loft conversion.
More than that, roof windows are essential for providing the natural light your loft conversion needs – transforming the space into light, open areas full of potential.
When it comes to roof windows, there are a variety of different styles, types and colours available.
This means that there’s a match perfectly suited to the style, type and design of your loft conversion – no matter what you have planned for the room.
For some, skylights might be the fit you need in your home.
Giving you the same benefits of natural light, skylights are installed above your line of sight and are available in both electronic and manual models.
Before starting on your loft conversion, it’s important to think about which roof window or skylight is right for you – and where exactly you want them positioned to match the rest of your room.