When it comes to converting your loft there are so many factors to take into consideration it can seem pretty overwhelming. And if you’ve never conducted any work on your building before it can seem like more stress and greater costs than you can cope with. So to allay any worries you have and make sure you’re as informed about loft conversions as possible, this ultimate guide should answer all of your questions.
Is your loft suitable for a conversion?
Before anything begins you need to ascertain whether your loft is suitable to be converted in the first place. So what do you need to consider?
- Is your loft big enough for a loft conversion? For a traditional cut rafter and purlin roof the minimum height needs to be between 2.2m and 2.4m. For a modern roof completed with trusses the minimum is between 2.4m and 2.6m.
- Are there important elements such as chimneys or lift areas that pass through your roof? In most cases these will not affect your project, but some properties will contain elements that need to be moved which can lead to a far greater loft conversion cost.
- How much room will a completed loft conversion offer you? In some cases the space will simply be too small to be usable, making the project inappropriate.
- Is your roof felted? In many traditional properties, such as those from the Victorian era, roof slates will not have felt behind them. When carrying out a loft conversion this will have to be rectified with a breathable membrane which can be a considerable additional cost.
Loft Conversion Types
Roofs come in all shapes and sizes and states. From the lofts of the traditional Victorian houses that line London’s roads to the terraced two ups and two downs, each offer different options for loft conversions, providing their own benefits and weaknesses.
In most cases a dormer loft conversion is carried out. These differ from the other types due to the fact that the roof does not have to be removed and replaced, and are simply an enhancement of the existing structure, extending vertically from the roof.
L Shaped Dormer
The L-shaped dormer loft conversion is only applicable to properties of a certain structure. Typically Victorian houses are good for L-shaped loft conversions, with the extension at the rear, as well as some corner terraced houses. These structures without doubt offer the greatest amount of space and can often be used to create separate rooms.
When headroom is a serious concern a mansard loft conversion is the go-to solution. Though be aware that this will require the removal of one side of your roof and incur considerable costs. With a mansard conversion, the roof’s slope has to be 72 degrees or over. As the conversion itself is a considerable structural change you will have to get planning permission in order to carry out this project.
Full Width Dormer
As per the diagram, a full width dormer loft conversion extends vertically out from your existing roof, running the length of the building. This will create a considerable amount of additional loft space, perfect for those who want to create a master suite or luxurious living area.
Hip to Gable
A hip-to-gable loft conversion is created when you take the hips (the sloped edges of the roof) and convert them into a gable wall instead. These types of loft conversions add a considerable amount of headroom to a loft as well as functional floor space.
Gaining popularity in the 16th century, dormers find themselves dotted throughout more traditional houses. With a single dormer conversion, you can create a little more space in the loft, but gain a great deal more in light. In conservation areas, single (or double) dormer conversions are most likely to gain approval as long as the final aesthetic is in keeping with the rest of the property.
The most important thing to note when beginning a loft conversion project is that the new space will function entirely differently. This means that the roof structure will need to be changed in order to compensate for different loads, and that the floor strength will need to be considerably beefed up.
Traditional roof design employed rafters and purlins to supply structural support. As shown in the diagram, these will often not interfere with a loft conversion. However, the removal of the old purlins and their struts will mean that your roof will no longer be properly supported. In most cases simply replacing these with steel or modern manufactured timber supports will suffice, so that the new loft structure doesn’t lead to the roof sagging.
Most properties built after the 1970s in the UK will have been completed with trussed rafters, which you think ought to be a good thing, though these roof types are notoriously difficult to work with, and will require a structural engineer’s advice before any alterations. Typically the trusses will be removed (in order to create a livable space) and steel or manufactured timber rafters used instead to provide support.
Loft Conversion Costs
Each project and property will have its own quirks and specifications which will lend itself to the final price. So whilst there’s no set price for each job the following loft conversion costs will outline the basics of what you can expect to pay for each project and service tendered.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that a loft conversion is considered to be the most valuable asset you can add to your property. Depending upon the size of loft you can often expect to see an average of 20% added to your home’s value, which will only appreciate over time.
Loft Conversion Cost: The Factors
When evaluating a quotation for your loft conversion, we need to take the following into consideration:
- Size of the attic
- Amount of rooms
- Building regulations
- Electric and plumbing installation
- The type of house you have
- The situation of the house on the street (i.e. is it on the corner? Or the middle of a terrace?)
- The desired fixtures, fittings and furnishings
HOW MUCH TO CONVERT MY LOFT?
Use our Conversion Estimator to get an idea of how much converting your loft might cost