With the cost of moving home running into many thousands of pounds,
with estate egents fees and removal expenses, it’s not surprising
that a lot of families are opting to move up instead of moving to a new
house. This is especially the case where children are settled at a good
school or the adults in the family work nearby and do not want to commute.
However, converting your loft is certainly not a DIY job, it really
is a job for the professionals. Getting it right means that
you not only gain a fabulous
could also get a handsome return on your investment when you sell. A
well done loft extension can add up to 15% to the value of your property.
When planning your conversion you should think about the following :-
Can you stand up?
Before you get too far with your plans you should check that your
loft is suitable for conversion. The easiest way to tell is to see
at least 2.3m (about 7 feet). A dormer window extension
will maximise headroom throughout the space, giving you more headroom
however planning restrictions often mean that this has to be put
at the back of the house
so it doesn’t
change the house’s appearance from the street (check with the
planning office at your local council).
Do you need hot water?
Many people convert their loft to add an extra bedroom and take the
opportunity to add an extra bathroom at the same time. You should
be careful at this stage to check that your boiler can handle the
extra heating and hot water requirements of the new space. Another
thing to consider is where your existing soil pipe and drainage is
in the house, adding a new bathroom at the front of the house when
the existing services are at the back of the house means that yu
may have problems connecting the new pipework to the old system.
Do you need planning consent ?
There are also structural considerations. New beams will be needed
in the roof and in the new floor to take the floor weight and strengthen
the roof when the existing rafters are removed. If you live in a
or semi-detached house this work will probably require a Party Wall
agreement (this refers to walls, ceilings or floors
which are shared with other properties.) with your neighbours. The
Office of the Deputy Prime
Minister (ODPM) has explanatory
information for householders which
is available to download as pdf files.
The good news is that planning permission is not always necessary,
but as with any extension work, you should contact your local planning
and ask if the work can be done within what is known as permitted
development. If the house hasn’t been extended since 1948 this
is likely to be the case, but you must find out in advance. Even if
your house has
not been extended since 1948, you may be next door to a listed building
or in a conservation area. In some areas this means you will need permission
for any changes which
affect the appearance of neighbouring listed properties. If planning
permission is required and you don’t apply, the authorities can
make you remove the extension and return the building to its original
As with the majority of building work, all loft conversions must meet Building
Regulations. The architect
and structural engineer that you have employed should be up to date with
these but it is best to submit full plans to your local authority building
so they can advise on any changes needed before work begins. One of the
key areas when adding another floor to a property are the fire precautions
required, for example it is normally necessary to upgrade the fire resistance
of existing ceilings and doors. Recent changes to
Regulations also require
high levels of insulation, which will keep your extension warm in winter
and prevent overheating in summer.
Do you know what you want?
A loft conversion is a major job and you will need to get architectural
plans drawn up. Make sure you know what you want so that you can
brief your architect. For example :-
- Are you considering more than
- Do you want
to include a bathroom and if so are you content with a shower
or do you need enough space for a bath?
- What are the rooms to be used
- Have you thought about storage space?
- Have you thought about access to the new rooms ?
- What about lighting and other electrical
requirements – if you are going to use the
loft as a study you are likely to need more electrical sockets and maybe
phone lines, for example.
Check out the builder
Make sure the builder you choose is experienced in loft conversion
work. Even if you have to compromise on the layout due to structural
many obstacles can be worked round if you really want a particular
design. If you are using a building company specialising in this
work they may supply drawings, but you may prefer to use an architect
prepare them and then ask at least three builders to quote for the
job against these plans. This will give you a better idea as to which
best value for money. But remember cost and value is not the same
thing. Check out the builder, look at previous work and talk to past
to find out if they were happy with the quality of their jobs, the
time the jobs took and the way in which they were carried out.
The cost of the job will vary depending on its complexity and where
A straightforward loft conversion for a three bedroom
house in London will start from around £30,000 whereas the
same job in Lancashire would be around £20,000. If you are
investing this much money in the project it makes sense to insure
the work. MasterBond is an insurance-backed
warranty that doesn’t cost the earth – from about £150
per £10,000 worth of work - but this does provide the extra
reassurance you need if something should go wrong while work is
and for 10 years afterwards. Many loft conversion specialists will
include this, or can arrange cover, if you ask them.
Finding a professional company to convert your loft needn’t
be a problem. The best way is to get a recommendation
from friends and relatives who have had a loft conversion, or you can
tour the area looking for work being done at the moment and ask the
householder about their builders.
It is important to ask the builder
how they will access the loft for the
of the work. A good builder will erect scaffolding and bring all
the structural materials through the roof by crane. By the time
they install the new staircase, the new room should be structurally
complete and ready to be plastered and finished off. Some companies
will cut costs by taking everything
through the house, but this can cause a lot of damage and aggravation
(do you really want roofing beams being carried through your house
and up your stairs?).
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