Loft conversions / by Carlo Viscione

Loft conversions are a relatively straight forward way of creating additional space at feasible costs and moderate inconvenience. There are however a few key points that should be considered from the outset:

Generally speaking, the steeper the roof pitch, the more suitable the loft is for a conversion as it indicates a good starting height from the loft floor to the ridge of the roof. This should ideally be around 2.2m. Any lower and the new ceilings of the loft conversion could be lower than 2m, which isn’t ideal and will make the space feel very closed in.

The existing roof structure will have a big influence over the feasibility of a loft conversion. Broadly speaking, there are two types of roof structures: traditional framed (pre 1960s) roof structures have rafters and ceilings joists, which together with supporting timbers and is more suitable to conversions. Post 1960s roof structures are constructed by factory-made roof trusses with diagonal structural timbers. These triangles will take the whole weight of the roof and indicate that there are no load-bearing structures underneath. They are therefore difficult to adapt. In all cases, a structural engineer is required to assess the existing structure and to prepare calculations and drawings for the loft conversion.

A typical loft conversion in a Victorian terraced house will most likely include a dormer window to the rear, which would increase floor space and head room considerably. Dormer windows also help with the stairs into the loft as the ceiling heights are normally not an issue. A property of the end of a terrace or a fully detached house can often benefit from a hip to gable roof conversion.

Secondly, it is important to remember that the new stairs leading to the loft can use up a sizeable chunk of the first-floor landing or even make an existing room smaller. The minimum ceiling height for stairs is 2m but can sometimes be relaxed to 1.9m. However, you should always aim for higher ceilings if possible.

Another big factor is the existing heating and plumbing system as many houses typically have a water tank in the loft that now needs to be moved or replaced with a sealed system, such as an unvented hot water cylinder. They do take up space, which will have to be found somewhere in the loft.

You may need planning permission depending on the size and whether or not your property is within a conservation area or is listed for the loft conversion. We can help you finding out if your proposed works are falling within permitted development and can act as agents and liaise with the local authority and building control to get your project off the ground and become reality.

Have a look at our loft conversionin Walthamstow where we designed a master bathroom with fourth bedroom in a three storey Victorian terraced house and get in touchif you would like to discuss your project with us.