When it comes to home improvement projects, loft conversions are certainly one of the most popular among UK homeowners. This is because (when they go right) they are a straightforward and non disruptive way to add space and a good deal of value to your home. In fact, according to The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the addition of a loft room can increase the value of a property by up to 25%. However before approaching a contractor, it is important to acknowledge that not all houses are equally suitable for the project. Below we’ve provided some practical guidelines to help assess your own home, along with information on the type regulations you can expect to come up against.
What’s Your Roof Type?
There are two main roof types in the UK; the traditional type built before 1965 and the modern “trussed” type built post 1965. The traditional roof has M shaped rafters that meet in the centre of the loft and must have a minimum height, at its highest point, of 2.2 metres. Anything under this height will not pass building regulations. This measurement is to allow for adequate headspace and to ensure that sufficient insulation can be packed in. Modern trussed roofs have rafters forming a W shape and a minimum essential height of 2.4 metres to pass building regulations. This modern type of roof is more difficult to convert than the older version, as the W shape of the rafters take up more room in the loft. This rafter structure isn’t impossible to remove, although it is likely to come at an extra cost.
What’s Your Roof Angle?
The steepness of your roof would ideally be 30 degrees or above -as the higher the angle, the higher the central head height and the larger the loft space is to work in.
Does Your Loft Have Enough Space To Begin With?
It is generally advised that your loft measures at least 5.5 metres from side to side and 7.5 metres from the front to the back. This amount of space is considered optimal but is by no means obligatory -if your loft dimensions don’t measure up, smaller loft designs are very often possible.
Do you have enough access space to your loft?
In alignment with building regulations, any loft that is converted into a bathroom, bedroom, study or playroom must be connected to the lower floor by a permanent staircase. It is therefore important to consider the space that will be lost on the floor below to accommodate the stairs leading up. Of course, the steps need not be particularly wide, and in most cases a fixed ladder or spiral staircase will do the job when space below is limited.
What permissions will your house need?
For loft conversions it is usually not necessary to obtain planning permission as projects often fall under the category of “permitted development”. However, there are limitations and you will have to obtain planning permission if: -Your new loft space is going to exceed 40 cubic metres in a terraced house or 50 cubic metres in a detached or semi detached house -Your loft conversion is going to extend higher than the highest point of the existing roof. -Your loft conversion is going to extend beyond the plane of the existing roof slope. -Your loft conversion is going to include any verandas, balconies or raised platforms. -Your house is located in a conservation area or natural park. -There are a few more technical limitations outlined in the Town and Country Order 2015, that can only really be verified with an architect. As part of our service, Property Makeover Ltd will verify these stipulations and take care of the administration process for you.
Regardless of planning permissions, a loft conversion will always need building regulation approval. These checks are in place to ensure things like safe design, structural strength and stability, sufficient insulation and fire safety compliance. These regulations are approved either by the building control services of your local authority or an improved inspector. Again, you would be able to rely on Property Makeover Ltd to assist in this administration stage for you.
Party Wall Agreements
Party wall agreements need to be considered by those living in terraced or semi detached housing, as it is very likely the loft conversion will affect the existing shared walls between neighbors. Written notice must be sent to your neighbors at least 2 months before the start of the construction, and include details of the works itself. Construction can then only start once written consent has been obtained. The party wall agreement process can be difficult to follow and it can become even more difficult if neighbors take issue with the proposals sent. As part of the Property Makeover service, we guide our clients through this process from start to finish, ensuring strict adherence to all regulations and providing expert advice if any objections are raised.
If you are in the process of planning your loft conversion and would like more information on any of the points above, please do not hesitate to call or email in and we will be happy to advise further!