Are you considering a loft conversion? Need more space to expand? If the answer is yes, then our site will be of great interest to you. From information about the planning process to the completion, our website is an all you need to know about loft conversions. We have produced a comprehensive guide to Loft Conversions which you can download and added hundreds of photos and videos to our website allowing your imagination to run wild with the possibilities of converting your loft. Take a look on our videos page for some great ideas from our case studies.
We provide a full in-house Architectural and structural calculations service. We are able to beautifully design and construct the most complex of conversions giving you total peace of mind before, during and after the process. We pride ourselves on our workmanship and personal approach to each unique project. Our employees are fully qualified tradesmen, employed for their expertise and skill (no sub-contracting). Expanding your home can be a complex task and will need considerable commitment from all the participants involved. Our dedicated team of Surveyors, Carpenters, Roofers, Electricians, Plumbers and Plasterers are fully committed to providing the highest quality service possible. All the products and materials we use are of the highest quality. All our loft conversions are completed to the highest specification.
A question we are often asked is does a loft conversion add value. In our opinion yes it does, in practically all cases. Should it be the first choice of residential development? No, if your property has surrounding ground that allows alternative solutions then an extension could also be considered. However, a loft conversion will cost significantly less than an extension.
Loft conversion assessment criteria & useful information:-
Planning Permission Assessment
During your initial free feasibility survey measurements will be taken and your requirements discussed. We will advise you on the different design and layout opportunities available for your property. We will then assess whether planning permission is required. If so, then a good external design for your loft conversion is necessary so that permission will be granted. Some dormers may be refused permission even if they are small. Velux roof light windows will often overcome this. In most cases, big bulky box dormers will not be allowed and certainly not allowed when positioned facing a public highway (usually front/ principle elevation).
Permitted Development Assessment
Most loft conversions do not require planning permission. For instance, if we are not extending outside the roof more than 50m³ for a detached house or 40m³ for any other. This is referred to as Permitted Development. Velux roof lights which do not project further than 150mm (when closed) are permitted. Dormer windows or a gable wall constructed away from the front/ principle elevation is permitted. However, if you live in a conservation area, listed building, national park, flat or maisonette then planning permission will always be required. Our experienced surveyor will advise you if a planning application is necessary.
All loft conversions require Building Regulations approval. We apply for this during the preliminary stages, submitting Architectural drawings and detailed structural calculations for approval. During the works thorough inspections are carried out by a qualified Building Inspector. On completion a certificate is issued stating that all work has been carried out in accordance with current Building Regulations. It is of the utmost importance that your loft conversion complies with Building Regulations and that it is formally approved before the work commences. We will arrange all inspections throughout the project.
Floor Space Assessment
It is important not to have over ambitious floor space targets, for example, a walk in wardrobe and additional bedrooms. Proportionate bedrooms, en-suite bath/ shower rooms and landing areas will be an important factor in designing your loft conversion. A well planned and designed loft conversion will add another floor level of approximately 75% of the lower floor.
Placing the staircase in the correct position is one of the most important details in the design. The new stairs are often installed above the existing staircase, which in our opinion is always the best place. This method connects the two staircases together keeping the stairwells in the same area of the house. Matching handrails/ spindles and a good flow to the stairs will make the conversion look part of the original build, and not just an add on.
In some cases existing floor space from a room next to the new staircase will need to be sacrificed. This can be slightly off putting, however, this is only a last resort solution.
Head Height Assessment
When standing in the loft, if you cannot touch the top of the rafters then this generally means a loft conversion is suitable. If you can easily touch the top of the rafters (approximately 2.2 metres or less) then it might be too small to form a useful functioning bedroom. A dropped landing at the top of the new staircase or lowering the ceilings to the first floor may be necessary to achieve the height required for Building Regulations. If the use is just for a play room or a study then all well & good, but beware, you may embark on a tight loft conversion only to realise that there is nowhere to place the bed. Our surveyor will take exact measurements and will advise you in more detail during your initial free feasibility survey. For more guidance on the types of roof and approximate minimum head height required prior to planning your loft conversion visit our Types of Roof page.
It is better to achieve one or two good sized functional rooms to compensate for the lack of head room in some areas of the conversion rather than trying to cram in the bedroom numbers for the sake of it. By doing this the new rooms can become nothing more than single bedrooms with very little inbuilt amenity value. Adding an en-suite can boost the value of your property and add a luxury feel to your bedroom. We’ve got ideas for getting the best out of your loft conversion, clever storage tricks and decorating tips to maximise the space.
A flat roof dormer to the rear elevation and Velux roof light windows to the front is a very popular design for the exterior. However, we view each property as unique and will design the exterior suited to the property and the needs for the conversion. If the property is particularly long then the flat roof dormer can be split into two or three smaller dormers with no more than 2 metres width to break up its bulk. If the roof is very large then a dormer may not be necessary and Velux windows can be used. However, to maximise the potential and if your budget allows it, we will explore the possibilities of strategically locating a dormer or two. This will often free up an extra 30% floor area that you may not have realised.
Dormers are not the only design solution for more light and space. Consideration should also be given to a hip roof to a gable wall to the side elevation. There are other issues to consider when planning your loft conversion which can be discussed in more detail during the initial feasibility survey. The points listed above are the main ones relative when initially considering a loft conversion.
Designing Your Loft Conversion
If planning permission is required then our Architectural Surveyor will design well balanced recessed type of roof dormer(s) at the sacrifice of some internal space rather than the huge top heavy dormers that will dominate the elevation and be refused permission. However, many home owners do not value the external look as much and insist on the largest dormer possible, this is acceptable under Permitted Development (no planning permission necessary). In some cases the space gained to the interior can compensate the large bulky dormer seen from the outside.
Fortunately, the planners have got to grips with a lot of loft conversion designs these days and they now have a great more control over schemes that a few years ago could have been built under Permitted Development. This means that they have encompassed good design guides in an attempt to stamp out the bulky full width box dormer built on the principle elevation (front) that turned a beautiful Victorian semi into something that looks like giant match box dumped on top of the roof.
Conversely, we have debated with the planners that the small cottage type pointy roof dormers are quite simply impractical and do not provide enough space for a fully functional room. However, designing your loft conversion is all about compromises and choices which have to be made. Fortunately, home owners are now becoming far more design aware than they ever used to be. We must accept that the formation of more space must not be at the expense of a poor external visual impact that simply jars with the whole look of the locality. This type of poor loft conversion design can not only decrease the value of your own home but that of the neighbours as well! However, there are exceptions, some inner city properties for example have an abundance of these types of loft extensions and the ones that have not yet been converted look out of place. In these areas we pay more attention to the internal design of the living space. There are also some areas from the 1970’s & 1980’s built estates where the whole so called architect design was for this style of flat roof box dormer and is an accepted design for that area.
Designing a practical and safe staircase for your new loft conversion is very important. Strict building control guidelines must be adhered to. The position of the staircase is one of the most important decisions we have to make. It will effect the entire layout of the upper floor. A small skylight (Velux window) installed to the roof line above the staircase will flood natural light to the entire stairwell.
Installing Velux windows to the roof line is undoubtedly a cheaper option than constructing a dormer. They are very quick and easy to install. Practically all loft conversions have them, even the dormer conversions. There are now a staggering array of roof light windows available and choosing the right type, size and positioning of them will affect the final look and feel of your new upper floor.
If a dormer is planned then a large window to the bedroom or better still a Juliet balcony will offer the best views. Our tubular marine grade stainless steel with toughened glass panels will make your Juliet balcony look beautifully modern giving you uninterrupted views.
Internal partition walls will effect the size of each room and are not usually load bearing. They can be positioned anywhere so getting it right is crucial and must be practical. This is most important if an en-suite bath/ shower room is going to be a part of the design.
Top tips on designing the interior of your loft conversion.
1. If you can fit a bath/ shower room into your loft conversion, ideally, alongside a bedroom, you will be doing your utmost to improve your homes value and saleability. Choose pieces that are suited to the bathroom proportions.
2. Make the en-suite feel larger by hiding pipework. During the build we always install pipework in the walls and under the floor. This will streamline the space making it feel larger and also making it easier to clean.
3. With a smaller loft conversion with sloping ceilings, its best to keep the décor simple and the furniture understated to make the space seem larger and brighter. To make the ceiling seem higher, paint the flat and sloping parts the same colour – ideally, white.
4. Plan to have a lot of light coming into the room, especially if it is to be used during the day – skylight and dormer windows will flood the rooms with natural light and what nicer thought can there be than watching the clouds slip by – very relaxing.
5. All loft conversions require heating so positioning the radiators in the best place can have a significant impact on space saving, usually under a window.
6. A glance at a few magazines or design books will show what can be achieved – good lighting, attractive flooring and some carefully selected soft furnishings could make your loft conversion a rival for a glossy magazine feature. Our videos and previous projects pages may also give you some design ideas.
On other pages of our website we have advised on gaining planning permission and also what we have to do to comply with building regulations to make your new loft conversion safe. It may be useful to read these pages before making any decisions. Converting a loft to a bedroom is one of the most usual uses. If you have the space it is a good idea to have an en-suite bath/ shower room and leave the rest of the family to share the other facilities in the house.
Your loft conversion may be used for something other than a bedroom, maybe an office or spare room.
Use of Your Space
Bedroom and En-Suite
The most popular uses for a loft conversion is that extra bedroom. Becoming the master bedroom of the house it certainly makes sense to add an en-suite shower room, if there is enough space.
Kids Bedroom and Play Area
If you want more space for younger members of the family a loft conversion could be a place to put the toys and play games or even a pool table. If you are lucky enough to have a large loft space then there may be enough room for a bed – possibly two, especially if bunk beds are used, bedroom and play area all in one.
Having that special room which can be left ready for guests needn’t be a luxury. A loft conversion can provide it at relatively little cost compared to a brick built extension. Adding an en-suite would make it self-contained and give your visitor that added sense of well-being.
Most families could do with a little more living space. It might be for teenagers to have somewhere to entertain their friends, the rest of the family to have somewhere quiet away from the teenagers, or just an alternative room to sit and be quiet while others are watching the television.
As well as extra living space it could also provide room for hobbies, such as sewing, painting or displaying a favourite collection.
Viewing/ Relaxation Room
A room at the top could provide the best views of all. So why not create somewhere to sit and watch the world go by? Strategically positioning the windows for the best views will play an important part in the design of the loft conversion.
Working from home is not unusual these days. It could be that you have started your own business and need the extra space to operate from, or that you have the opportunity to bring work home and not face the journey in every day. A loft conversion would supply a spacious working area, with so much attractive office furniture available, going to work could become a real pleasure.
Water Tanks Taking up Space?
If you have a gravity fed system then the cold water storage tanks in the loft will need to be re-located or removed. Our Combi Boiler page explains the benefits of converting your hot water and central heating supply to a combination boiler.
Each project is unique to us, however, most loft conversions have the same order of construction
Call or e-mail us for your FREE no obligation survey. An appointment will be made for you to meet our surveyor on site to give advice outlined on our Assessment Criteria page.
Accepting our Quotation
Our architectural surveyor and structural engineer will prepare the drawings, usually within a week. They will be sent to you for your approval and for any changes you would like to make. If required we submit them for planning permission. The planning process usually takes 8 weeks. Once permission is granted the drawings are submitted to the local Building Control Department for Building Regulations Approval.
Contract, Schedule of Works & Payments
A plain English contract and detailed schedule of works will be sent to you by post. It will need to be signed by you and a witness to form a legally binding agreement. A 5% deposit is required before work commences. During the works payments are invoiced at equal weekly instalments. A progress flow chart is also provided to keep track of your payments. The flow chart is updated and sent to you at weekly intervals with a report detailing completed tasks before each payment is requested. Depending on the type of conversion, the project usually takes between 5 to 9 weeks to complete. Our working hours are 8.00am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
Example of Progress Chart
The first day will consist of erecting scaffolding, making the loft a safe environment and transporting materials into the roof space area.
The RSJ steels are installed and the new floor joists placed into position.
Structural changes to the roof shape e.g dormers and hip to gable construction. The first inspection from Building Control will now take place.
Week 3 loft conversion dormer
The staircase is usually fitted in the third week. This is always an exciting stage of the loft conversion because your new upper floor can be easily accessed. At this stage the structural work will be complete. Once the staircase is safely installed the plumbing and electrical first fixing stages begin. To comply with current Building Regulations an electrical completion (Part P) certificate will be issued. Floor boards are securely fixed and the internal wall positions are set out and constructed.
Week 4 Loft Conversion Staircase
Rigid insulation is fitted between the rafters and multi-layer Thinsulex is fitted spanning across the underside of the rafters with a minimum 50mm ventilation gap between the roofing felt and rigid insulation.
High U-value insulation is used to meet the requirements set out by Building Control. Global warming is here and to save energy the government is constantly adjusting the requirements set out by the Protocol agencies. We keep up-to-date with all the new regulations for insulating our loft conversions. At this stage the Building Inspector must approve the insulation. Once approved the plasterboard is securely fixed to the interior walls and ceilings followed shortly with two skim coats of plaster.
The installation of the bath/ shower room suite. Skirting boards, architraves & fire doors, light switches, sockets
& radiators are the final items installed before completion.
Painting & Decorating
This is an optional service as most clients carry out this work themselves. However, if requested, we can provide a quotation for the painting & decorating.
Before handover we carry out electrical testing, to comply with Part P, smoke detector test, plumbing test, and a general overview of the entire conversion to check for snags i.e doors/ windows are operating properly. There will also be a final inspection of the roof before dismantling the scaffolding.
On rare occasions and with the more complex projects it may take a little longer than scheduled. However, we do guarantee to complete the project no longer than 2 weeks after the scheduled completion date. We do our utmost best to finish on schedule. More important to us is finishing the job to the highest standard possible and to your total satisfaction.
Included in our service is an unparalleled after care package which covers every detail. If, in the unlikely event there are any snags after the handover day we will deal with it immediately. You may require some minor adjustments, for instance, trimming the bottom of the doors after the carpets are installed. We will carry out this free of charge. Six months after handover day we will contact you to ask if there are any snagging issues. One year after the hand over day we will contact you to ask again if there are any snagging issues, however small.
The Party Wall Act
Almost all terraced and semi-detached houses a loft conversion will require RSJ steels to support the additional loads. The shared wall with your adjoining neighbour(s) is called a Party Wall, which will require an agreement to insert the required RSJ supports. We will complete and send the relevant forms with the plans which will need to be signed by your adjoining neighbour(s). We also offer a full impartial Party Wall Survey free of charge with all our loft conversion projects.
For information click on the link below to read The Party Wall Act 1996 Booklet:-
The booklet has been produced by the Communities & Local Government Department to explain in simple terms how the Party Wall Act 1996 (“the Act”) may affect someone who either wishes to carry out work covered by the Act (the “Building Owner”), or receives notification under the Act of proposed adjacent work (the “Adjoining Owner”).