Q. Instead of moving home I am thinking about converting my loft. What do I need to consider?
A. Given the high costs associated with moving and the current state of the property market it can be easier to look at your existing home and consider how it can be improved. The loft of a property can account for up to 30 per cent of the floor space, but is often just used as a storage space so it is a prime area for conversion. Not all roofs are suitable for conversion so you should seek professional advice to allow you to understand your loft’s potential. The deciding factors will generally be: how is your home constructed and what’s the headroom available?
Many lofts can now be converted under “permitted development” without the need to gain formal planning permission. If you check with your local planning office they will tell you what specifically is allowed in your area and to your property. More restrictions will be in place if you live in a conservation area or your property is listed. Even if you do not need planning permission, the conversion will still need to meet building regulations to ensure it is built legally.
When planning a loft conversion the aim is to create the maximum amount of useable space. Although you can create space in the eaves for storage you also need to create a good amount of floor space with a generous head height (2.3m is desirable). Adding a dormer extension where the roofline is extended outwards will help to create more floor space. However, this type of extension is generally not allowed in conservation areas.
Another important thing to plan is the access route to the new loft. If you can continue the current staircase this gives a cohesive feel to your home. You also need to remember that you will need to negotiate furniture up these stairs.
The use of the additional space will be a personal choice guided by your living arrangements. If you have children it is great to be able to provide a room that they can use as they grow older. Involving them in the decoration choice means they will be more likely to choose to spend time in the new room. To future proof the décor of the room choose a neutral palette that you can easily update as they mature. Using the loft this way then allows you to create an adults-only space in your reception room. Through careful planning a loft conversion can add very usable space to your home, and just as importantly increase the value.