5 things to think about before you get a loft conversion

A loft conversion can create a new master bedroom or guest suite [PA Photo/thinkstockphotos]

A loft conversion can create a new master bedroom or guest suite [PA Photo/thinkstockphotos] - Credit: PA

In expensive areas like ours, where the next step may be out of reach financially, converting the loft can be the ideal way of making more of what you already have. These are just some of the things you might like to consider before booking the builders…

Converting the loft space will usually cost upwards of £20,000 [PA Photo/thinkstockphotos]

Converting the loft space will usually cost upwards of £20,000 [PA Photo/thinkstockphotos] - Credit: PA

1. If your home’s loft is more useful to you as living space than storage, converting it is the obvious thing to do. A loft conversion should make your home more valuable and sellable, and if you can fit a bathroom or shower room up there, as well as a bedroom and built-in storage, you have the perfect master or guest suite.

2. Loft conversions cost from around £20,000, but are often a lot more, depending on the size, spec and type of conversion. The cheapest and easiest loft conversions are ones with only skylights, as the line of the roof is unchanged. However, this isn’t ideal if the loft has limited space and head height.

3. Building out the roof to create more useable space inside will give you a much more satisfactory conversion. As long as there are no planning restrictions, building a full-width dormer window across the roof at the back and changing the side of the roof so it’s ‘straight’ (viewed from the front or back) instead of sloping (this isn’t possible with mid-terraced houses) will maximise the space internally.

The success of a conversion may depend on the amount of head height you're able to achieve [PA Photo

The success of a conversion may depend on the amount of head height you're able to achieve [PA Photo/thinkstockphotos] - Credit: PA

4. For a loft to be suitable for conversion, the main space should be at least 2.3m high - generally, the steeper the pitch of the roof, the better it will be for conversion. Standing up in the loft and walking around (if safe to do so) will give you an idea of how much useable space there is. If there isn’t enough head height, even by building out the roof, you may be able to lower the ceilings in the rooms below, but this will be expensive and disruptive and isn’t practical if they’re already quite low. Another option may be to rebuild the roof to make it higher, which is also a big, expensive job.


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5. You’ll need space for a staircase up to the loft on the floor below and if this means losing a bedroom, you may not be much better off by converting the loft. Spiral staircases can be a good space-saving solution, as can narrow (and straight) ‘space-saver’ staircases, although they aren’t necessarily practical for everyday use and are unlikely to comply with building regulations.

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