3 things to consider when planning a loft conversion at home

in partnership with VELUX

When considering extending your home, there is lot to consider:

When considering extending your home, there is lot to consider:

  • What will I use the space for? 
  • The amount of space required
  • How do I maximise daylight in the space?
  • Does the space interconnect with the rest of the house?
  • How much will it cost and is it value for money?

Generally speaking a loft conversion is cheaper than building an extension, but whether it adds value to your needs and ultimately to the house itself, depends on the size, shape and layout of the house and the type of roof.

The two key considerations for a loft conversion are usually available headroom and staircase position, whereas the two key considerations for an extension are usually available area (you can only develop up to 50% of the garden under current planning rules) and building position.

Transforming a dark, unused attic into a light and functioning room requires vision. However, as long as you take your time and consider your options, you’ll end up with a stunning space that you and your family can enjoy for years to come. 

VELUX have a lots of case studies of real-life loft conversion projects featured here which can give you some fresh ideas about how to design the space. There are also handy how to guides to walk you through the loft design and conversion process. 

loft conversion

1. Design your space – perfecting your loft conversion floorplan

Once you’ve confirmed your loft is suitable for conversion – the highest point should ideally be at least 2.3m and enough space to fit a new staircase, then it’s time to design the space! The loft is the perfect spot for a games room, hobbies room or an en-suite bedroom. Take time to really consider what you will be using the space for. Home cinema or music room will have different lighting requirements than a bedroom space, for example.
Clever design can make the most of sometimes awkward attic spaces. Design the layout around what’s critical to have at full head height, such as a shower, and put desks and dressing tables in the lower areas.

Decide on the exact room layout, down to the location of furniture, the bed and any built-in storage, before any construction begins, so you can plan the location of the plumbing and electrics.

2. Building regulations

You might not need planning permission (always check this with your council), but you’ll always have consider building regulations. By converting the loft, you’re changing its use into a ‘liveable space’, which means it needs building regulations approval by a qualified building control inspector. The regulations cover various areas, including structural safety, energy efficiency, electrics, fire safety as well as insulation, drainage, door and window efficiency, and the placement and style of the stairs. The stairs must have a minimum of 2m head height and form part of an escape route in case of fire with a fire door included.

3. Maximise the daylight

When you’re looking at a dark, unused attic, it can be hard to visualise it as a beautiful space flooded with daylight and fresh air. 

So when you are planning your loft conversion think really carefully about your glazing options. The windows you choose will depend on the type of roof you have, and how you intend to use the space once it’s converted.
Remember that you don’t need to go with what builders fit as standard.  There are lots of cost effective options out there which will give your space more of a wow factor. 

VELUX has glazing options for roof windows but they also have a really clever pop out balcony roof window product called CABRIO®! It transforms from a flush top hung roof window into a balcony in seconds. It doesn’t usually require planning permission either.

VELUX has also a fantastic selection of blinds so you can control the amount of natural light in your new space. For example, their blackout energy blinds can be moved anywhere on the window and provide high insulation against the cold outside.

If you’re unsure which type, size and number of roof windows you should go for, speak to the VELUX Daylight Experts. They can also give you advice that’s in line with Building Regulations recommendations. You can reach them here

Plus add some character to your brand new space

The challenge with any new build space is lack of character. I’m a fan of having texture and ‘imperfections’ in any interiors. Salvaged floorboards, exposed brick, vintage furniture or unplastered walls would all create a far more interesting space than having just perfectly finished surfaces. Some of the most gorgeous loft conversions are actually the VELUX rooflight type where the shape of the roof has not been altered and cosy spaces have been created with original features such as exposed brick walls left in place.

Thinking of extending? Read how to maximise daylight in your kitchen extension.

 

loft conversion

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Susanna Hawkins

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