The advantages of converting your loft into extra living space have long been known. From adding a spare bedroom to creating a new bathroom, conversions not only open your home up with more room, they also add an enormous amount of value to your property.
However, before you start planning a new area or home office in your attic, you first have to assess whether your house can accommodate such a conversion. Most of this work can be carried out by you as the homeowner.
This is perhaps the most obvious indicator as to whether or not a loft conversion is possible in your home. Generally, 2.2 metres from floor to ceiling (for over half the floor space, if the ceiling is sloped) is the minimum amount of head space required to start work. This is mostly to ensure that people would be able to stand up straight in the finished room, but also gives you the widest scope for possible conversion options.
If your roof is sloped, the angle of the pitch will have to be considered. If the pitch is very steep, as is the case with many older metal roofs, this may reduce the amount of ceiling space that is over the required 2.2 metres from the floor. However, these roofs are often easier to alter, allowing for dormer conversions and restructuring much more easily than with more modern, flatter roofs.
For those with lofts that fall under the 2.2 metre mark, there are a couple of options. As mentioned above, pitched roofs can generally handle a certain amount of remodelling, and so height could be achieved in this way. The second, more complex option would be to lower the ceiling height of the room below. This is a major bit of work, and requires the assistance of professionals.
For a loft conversion to be considered as a habitable space (and for this to be reflected in the increased value of the property), regulations state that permanent access must be made available. This is usually in the form of a staircase, which itself brings a number of considerations regarding structural work and placement.
Loft staircases often rise in the centre of the room. This is to take maximum advantage of the peak roof height, meaning that people using the steps won’t have to duck when entering the room. Spiral or cornered staircases could be a solution to space issues, while the maximum distance the stairs can stretch in a straight line is 16 steps (although this will rarely be a problem for most average size properties). There are also limitations to step size, with the maximum permitted height being 220mm.
If you are unsure as to whether your home will be suitable for a loft conversion, contact a professional loft conversion team. They should be available to carry out surveys of your property, providing advice and a free quote. Some offer a free design and planning service too, ensuring that you are fully satisfied before any work begins.
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