6 Steps to Planning Your Ideal Loft Conversion

Posted by Becky Graham on 10th October 2013

Converting the loft is one of the best ways to make the best use of the existing space in your home.

Employing professionals will minimise the likelihood of costly and dangerous mistakes. You can always do the decorating yourself and add shelves and furniture at a later date.

Step 1 - Check your loft is suitable.                                

First you will need to make sure your project is viable. The ceiling height needs to be greater than 2.3 metres to give enough headroom.  The steeper the pitch of the roof, the more suitable it will be for conversion.

Step 2 - Be clear on what you want to get out of the space.

There’s no point having a room that’s not used well, so make sure you know how you want to use it. Rather than just a spare bedroom, it could serve as part office, part spare room, part play or exercise room. In which case, you need the floor space to be flexible and plan the right storage.

If you want a bathroom, you will need to ensure your current boiler is big enough to cope with the extra radiators and your hot water system powerful enough to pump up the extra water required.

Step 3 - Get an architect.

A specialist architect should guarantee the best use of space combined with unusual design ideas and details you wouldn’t think of yourself.

Step 4 - Choose a reputable builder.

An experienced builder or loft conversion team will spare you hours of work and worry. They will take care of all the paperwork for you - dealing with the council and building regulations, as well as securing skips and scaffolding.

Step 5 - Verify if you need a party wall agreement with your neighbours

To ensure your planned changes don't compromise the strength or soundproofing of the dividing wall, you will need to notify your local Building Regulations officer. The types of work covered by the Party Wall Act 1996 include: demolishing and/or rebuilding a party wall, increasing the height or thickness of a party wall; inserting a damp proof course; cutting into the party wall to take load bearing beams; underpinning a party wall.  It’s always good practice to discuss your plans with your neighbours at the earliest stages. 

Step 6 - Don't underestimate time and budget. 

Your budget will govern what's realistically possible.  Your architect will cost you but should be worth it in the end.  If your scheme is more unusual or your fittings top of the range, costs will soon begin to mount up.  For example, if your style preference is for a Victorian bath, there are companies out there offering more competitive versions.