How to know if your loft is suitable for a conversion

We would all love a little more space in our homes, whether it’s for another bedroom, a home office, more storage space, or just a little something to add value to your property. The best way to add that space is to work with what you’ve already got, and loft conversions have been growing in popularity in recent years as they are cost effective, less invasive and more practical than building a whole new extension. But just how do you know if it is even an option for your property? We’ll take you through just what the stipulations are to get your loft conversion off the ground.

1.     Do you have the head room?
First things first, can you stand in the space? This may seem like a silly question, but this is a fundamental part of whether this is a viable option or not. Even if you don’t mind squatting a little, in the UK, the minimum head height required for a loft conversion is 2.2m, measured from the highest point in the ceiling. If your ceiling is too low, don’t worry, there are things you can do to get a bit of extra space, like raising the roof, lowering the ceiling for the floor below, or even using thinner insulation if you just need to trim off a few inches.

2.     Is there enough space?
It’s not just the vertical space you need to consider but the entire floor plan. Consider what exactly you want the space for. Do you need room for a double bed if you’re turning it into another bedroom, work out equipment if you want a gym, or even space for a shower if you want an en-suite.
3.     Is the roof suitable?
A main thing to consider is whether the actual roof can be converted. The types of roofs most common and suitable for a conversion are traditional cut roofs, truss roofs, and purlin roofs. Traditional cut roofs are considered the easiest to convert as they have a very simple structure. Truss roofs are a little more complex structurally, thus require more work to create a useable space. While purlin roofs can be converted, they may require additional structural support.

4.     Does your loft meet building regulations?
Like with most major changes to a property, loft conversions are subject to building regulations. Regulations aren’t just there to make sure it’s safe and structurally sound, but they also consider fire safety, insulation, and ventilation. Be sure to factor all these things into your budget when considering a loft conversion, as additional work will need to be undertaken to get everything up to standard.
5.     Can your foundations support it?
Your property’s foundations were made with its original weight and build in mind and although a loft conversion isn’t a considerable weight addition, it is still worth checking with a builder to make sure they can still support it. The process to check this involves digging a small hole in the ground to expose the foundations in order to analyse them. If they fall short, your property may need underpinning (adding an extra layer of material to increase the foundation’s strength) before commencing with the build.
6.     Is there space for stairs?
Designing a loft conversion can potentially be much more complicated than you might have first considered, and this mostly comes down to the placement of the stairs. Stairs take up a lot of space in the room below, so you’ll want to consider where is best to place them to lessen their invasiveness and whether there is space for them at all. A narrow, winding staircase takes up the least amount of space, but it limits the accessibility, especially if you aim to move furniture. Purpose built stairs are the most practical as they would be custom built for your exact needs, but they are also more costly.
Loft conversions are a great way to add space and value to your property, and with careful planning and attention to detail, you could transform a forgotten space into something truly functional and beautiful.

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