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Loft Conversions Buyers Guide

Converting your loft is one of the most cost- effective ways of increasing your living space and adding value to your home. The structure is already in place, so building additional walls or extending your home outwards is not necessary, therefore a loft extension should not take as long or cost as much as other conversions.  

We have written a guide to building your loft conversion, which will help with the planning and ensure all points have been adequately met.

If your loft is 2.7 metres or more in height from the floor to the highest point of the roof, you can convert it. If your current loft is lower than 2.7 metres in height, then you may have to consider lowering the existing floor in order to meet this guideline. Lowering the floor will increase your overall cost, so this is something you must consider before proceeding.

Before you start any building works, you will need to make sure your conversion complies with building regulations for safety reasons. Building regulations make sure that new building work is safe, healthy, accessible and energy efficient. Building regulations are the minimum accepted standards when converting your loft and you need to make sure you adhere to these requirements.

We have listed the main points below:

Structural stability

If you are planning on converting your loft into a liveable and habitable area you will need ceiling joists installed. Building regulations ensure that joists and load-bearing walls are used to they can support the extra weight that your new conversion will bring. Steel beams will also have to be installed to support the new joists. If you are converting your loft just for storage, these joists may not be necessary.

Fire safety

Fire regulations are extremely important and it is imperative that you have researched this thoroughly and your new loft conversion meets these requirements. Your new loft room needs to have a self-closing door fitted.  All walls and any new floors must be able to resist fire for at least thirty minutes and if you are using a glazed door panel, it needs to contain fire-resistant glass. There needs to be an appropriate escape route should a fire ever occur and if you are converting multiple rooms, this will apply to all of them. An escape window needs to be accessible from the outside as well as from the inside and have the minimum dimension requirements of 450mm X 450mm. Also remember that you install fire alarms into the loft room.

Ventilation

Your new loft room needs to be well ventilated to prevent condensation. A rapid and background ventilation is required, which means you need to have a window installed that is the size of 1/20th of the total floor area.

Staircases

A suitable staircase needs to be installed - a ladder will not do. The staircase needs to be wide enough for people to easily walk up and down in case of an emergency.

Insulation

Building regulations state that your new loft conversion needs to be fully insulated. Insulation will help with your temperature control, energy consumption, amount you spend on your bills and will even help with noise control.

Depending on the amount of work that is required will depend on the building regulations that will need to be met. We have listed a few most common requirements but this list is not exhaustive. Contact your local authority about building regulations for any help or guidance, and to ensure you follow all of the requirements. 

Planning permission isn’t usually required when converting your loft, but if you live in a listed building planning permission may be required. It is always best to check with your local authority to save any problems in the long run.

What room you should have

If you are thinking of building an extra bedroom then you should consider an en- suite if there is enough room. This will add more value to your home and will keep the balance of bedrooms to bathrooms at a sensible ratio. If you are building a bathroom then think about the piping work, it will be far easier to install new pipes if your existing bathroom is underneath the loft room. You will also need to think about storage space, many loft conversions use the eaves as part of the storage but be aware that these will need to be specially designed and fitted, so may increase your cost. We think it is a great idea to keep a little money left over from your overall budget so if unexpected things occur (they always do) you will have the money to deal with them and not simply leave them unfinished.

It is always best to contact a qualified and reputable tradesman to undertake building works on your loft conversion. They will make sure that all building regulations are met and can advise you on suitable materials and design ideas to make sure you utilise your loft conversion to its full potential. 

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