If you’re concerned about whether your loft is even suitable for conversion, I’ll start by saying that most lofts can be converted. Unless you have a pretty inaccessible attic space, most loft spaces can be worked with to create a luxury addition to your home. But how do you decide where everything in your loft should go and how it will work best for your home?
Know your options
Some of the most popular loft conversions are a rear dormer, mansard, L-shaped dormer and hip-to-gable. A VELUX conversion is also an excellent option for those looking for a non-intrusive, cost-effective and easy way to create additional space.
Each type suits a different kind of roof but also has a different look and feel. It’s important to establish which conversion will transform your space in the way you want, but it’s worth considering whether another conversion will better suit your home’s exterior. Other more niche loft types include a piggyback, pitched dormer and side dormer conversion.
When it comes to planning permission, you can build most loft conversions under a Certificate of Lawfulness if your property has permitted development rights. This certificate means that you don’t need to wait for the application to be approved before work commences as long as you build within the council’s guidelines. If you don’t have permitted development rights, you’ll need to obtain planning permission.
A piggyback conversion will always require planning permission as the ridge is raised – a feature that doesn’t fall within the guidelines of the certificate.
Plan, plan and plan some more
The planning stages of your conversion are crucial to ensuring your project takes the desired course. While this may seem obvious and trivial, it’s vital to be clear on how you intend to use your new loft space. Is it going to act as a secret study to get a moment’s peace from life’s chaos? Or perhaps you’re looking to add another bedroom to your home? If you aren’t sure what you’re going to put in your attic space but know you want some extra room, take a look at your home and establish what might be missing. This could be anything from a wetroom, den, cinema room or bespoke dressing room that fits neatly within your roof’s sloping eaves.
Keep an eye on costs
Of course, the price of your loft conversion will vary depending on the size and scope of the works. However, a conversion that requires a change of your home’s roof structure will be more costly than a standard ‘bolt-on’ conversion.
Many homeowners neglect to consider other hidden costs, including fees for planning permission, party wall agreements, building controls and architect designs.
Obtaining multiple quotes before embarking on your conversion is vital. If you’ve received a quote that fits your budget and is likely to result in your dream loft, we’d advise getting a written guarantee of the fixed price. Any reasonable loft conversion specialist will offer a fixed price guarantee, so you know exactly what to expect when you come to pay the bill.
Suss out your staircase
Working out how you’re going to access your loft should be your first point of call. The theme of your loft conversion could fit around an elegant or industrial-style stairway that should tie in with the feel of the rest of the house. Whatever you opt for, access should be decided in the early stages of planning.
Placing stairs above your current staircase might be the best direction if you’re extending into a third floor. However, you have more flexibility and freedom to play around with the staircase if you’re embarking on a bungalow loft conversion.
Choose the right windows
Next, you should think about your windows. Are you going to have dormers or skylights? The shape of your roof will steer you towards a particular style. For example, conventional windows can be used with a dormer loft conversion, as the extension projects vertically from the slope of the existing roof. However, for a sloped, unaltered roofline, we always recommend VELUX windows as they allow you to maximise the natural light in your loft space, making it feel airy and spacious.
Pay attention to your plumbing
One of the primary pitfalls of loft conversions is plumbing. Plumbing can be tricky as you have to work around the existing pipe structures. Usually, it’s advisable to position your new plumbing as close to the current supply and waste pipes as possible. This will not only save you a great deal of hassle but will result in notable cost savings too. It’s also worth considering what plumbed appliances you really need in your new space, but this will be different for each family.
Drill into design
The look and feel of your loft space are things you can manipulate with furniture, colours and lighting. And don’t be disheartened by those sloping ceilings! They actually make for a fabulous design feature and can be used to your benefit. Let the slanting walls inspire you to choose bespoke or more eccentric furniture to adapt to the unconventional space. You could even make use of the eaves and alcoves to create additional storage or decorative space. Built-in wardrobes, under-eaves cupboards and tucked-away shelving are all perfect for transforming a space that feels unusable.
When looking to create a certain atmosphere, colour schemes are key. If you’re after a cosy cubby to retreat to at the end of a long day, darker colours and soft ambient lighting create a sleepy space where your mind can rest. Alternatively, white walls with a pop of pastel take you to a brighter, perhaps more productive place.
Select a superior specialist
When choosing a loft specialist, it’s advisable to pick an expert with ample experience who’ll see the project through from start to finish. Google Reviews is a great place to check out a company’s authenticity: a good specialist will usually include testimonials with photos of the finished loft and should offer to take you to view their work in person.