At a time when many home owners choose to improve rather than move, a simple loft conversion offers the ideal solution to realise the full potential of your home.
Loft conversions are a great way to increase the useable space within your home without compromising your outdoor space and also provide a cost effective solution to add value to your property.
“Do you love your home and the area in which you live? Would you love that extra bedroom without the cost of the next rung on the property ladder?”
If so, a loft conversion could provide the cost effective solution.
Depending on the original roof structure and planning constraints, a loft conversion is a great way to gain extra space in your home and can be applied to almost all houses. This article sets out to help you to understand your property and realise the design solutions available to help you achieve your dream home.
How to check if your loft can be converted
Not all lofts are suitable for conversion and so it is worthwhile checking the following before getting started:
- Head height
- Type of structure
- Existing water tanks/ chimneys
Ideally the existing height from the top of the bottom chord to the underside of the ridge timber should be a minimum of 2.2m. The steeper the pitch angle, the higher the central height is likely to be.
Where a water tank is in the original loft space, the heating system will need to be replaced with a sealed system. Depending on the size of the house and number of bathrooms/ en-suites, this may be either an unvented hot water cylinder system or combi boiler system. Both require adequate storage areas, and so this must be considered when opting for a loft conversion.
Types of Roof
There are a number of styles and age of home across the UK. The following are the most commonly found roof types:
Types of roof structure
Roof structures are typically ‘traditional framed’ or ‘pre-fabricated truss section’ types, which varies depending on the age of the home (most commonly either pre or post 1965). The original roof structure can impact the level of conversion work required.
Traditional frame types are generally found in houses built pre-1965. The rafters, ceiling joists and supporting timbers are cut and assembled on site. This is the most suitable type of roof for conversion as the space can be easily and relatively inexpensively opened up by strengthening the rafters and adding supports (purlins or steels) as specified by a structural engineer/ truss designer.
Beams are often required to provide support to the new floor structure. Non-complex conversions can be achieved as self-build projects provided that Conversion Insurance is obtained (see Conversion Insurance notes).
Pre-fabricated truss sections are a popular roofing construction method used today and are commonly found in homes constructed after 1965. The timbers tend to be thinner and require additional braced diagonal timbers. As pre-fabricated trusses do not need additional load bearing support beneath them, this type of roof requires a greater added structural input when re-designing for a loft conversion.
Types of Conversion
Room in Roof Loft Conversion
Reinforcement of the floor
Addition of skylights
Staircase to the loft
Electrics, lighting and heating
Fire safety measures (in compliance with AD Part B) such as fire doors and smoke alarms
Dormer Loft Extension
Flat Roof Dormer
Side Dormer to Hip
Lead Clad Dormer on Front Elevations
Hip to Gable
Gable to Gable
Alternative Solutions for Roofs with a Low Head Height
Permitted – Loft extensions without enlargement of the roof
Permitted – Roof windows projecting less than 10mm
Permitted – Dormer windows to the rear and side elevations are permitted (glazing and height restrictions apply)
Permitted – All window opening parts should be no lower than 1.7m from floor level
Permitted – Overall increase in volume can be up to 50 cubic metres (40m3 on terraced houses).
Hipped roofs can be altered to gable roofs provided the Local Authority have fully adopted the Hip to Gable Permitted development rights.
Not permitted – Loft extensions on designated land
Not permitted – Rooflines fronting the highway; no extensions are permitted beyond the plane of your existing roof slope.
Not permitted – Verandas, balconies or raised platforms
Not permitted – Roof enlargement cannot overhang the outer face of the wall of the original home.
Party Wall Act 1996
Various work that is going to be carried out directly to an existing party wall or structure
New building work at or astride the boundary line between properties
Excavation within 3m (where the work will go deeper than the neighbour’s foundations) or 6m (where the work will cut a line drawn downwards at 45 deg from the bottom of the neighbour’s foundations).
Cutting into a wall to take the bearing end of a beam (for example for a loft conversion), or to insert a damp proof course all the way through the wall)
To raise the height of the wall and/ or increase the thickness of the party wall and, if necessary, cut off any projections which prevent you from doing so.
To demolish and rebuild the party wall
To underpin the whole thickness of a party wall
To protect two adjoining walls by putting a flashing from the higher over lower, even where this requires cutting into an adjoining owners independent building