Staircase ideas for loft conversions

Home renovation companies typically offer a variety of services. Here at Home Tales, we specialise in all kinds of home extension, be it ground floor, first floor or loft. We fully appreciate that every single property is unique. Yes – it is true that period architecture followed a general rule when it was designed and built. Yes – it is also often the case that from the outside, rows of properties appear to be of similar appearance. While tools were used to build these houses, it was men and women that operated the machinery. These are not factory produced houses, cut with a laser measure to the fine-tuned mm point. They were built by people, and due to human interpretation, each house will be slightly different. On top of this, there are different designs that were built during this period. Architecture and requirements evolved, and so did the design of the houses. There are also environmental factors which contribute to the condition of a property. Soil density and foundation depth effect homes all over London. The location of the property is another factor – are you in a conservation area? Or in a listed building? There are an endless number of variables at play when it comes to your existing property, and all of these affect the options that you have available to you when it comes to a home renovation, refurbishment or home extension. 

The existing layout your property is pivotal when it comes to designing a loft conversion. When you undertake a loft conversion, you need to add a staircase within your design to enable access to the new floor of your home. A staircase is large, bulky and awkwardly shaped. They need to be a certain size, level and pitch to meet building regulation standards. Building control are strict and inflexible when it comes to staircase access, as it’s viewed as a means of escape in the event of a fire. For this reason, there isn’t much compromise on the design aspect. They need the space they need, and everything else needs to adapt to ensure it fits properly. 

We thought we would talk you through a few of the staircase options that are available to you when it comes to accessing a loft conversion.

Option 1 – stairs above stairs 

The most common layout we see in Victorian and Edwardian terraced housing is demonstrated in the floorplan below. In this floorplan, the stairs directly face the front door access, and lead up to a first-floor hallway or landing area. In most cases, the staircase to the loft can fit neatly above the existing staircase. In some cases, you might need to cut into the master bedroom to create a little more space for the turn upwards. 

Option 2 – side dormer for stairs

The property in the floorplan below is a semi-detached house with a hipped roof design. This layout also demonstrates the design you might expect to see on an end of terrace property. 

The additional slant in the roof means that a full width dormer extension is not possible, as the area required to create the dormer doesn’t exist. In this case we can undertake a hip to gable roof extension, which brings the roofline ridge in-line with the flank wall. If you want to go for a full dormer extension, then the staircase can fit suitably within the design. 

In some cases, local planning policy might restrict the use of a hip to gable loft conversion. We recently gained approval for a project that was located within a conservation area, and as a result, it wasn’t allowed to have a full hip to gable extension. The local council even opposed the proposed side and rear dormer in the beginning. It took a lot of negotiating from our expert planning team to get the scheme approved. The homeowner wanted to maximise space in their loft and they needed a side dormer to accommodate the staircase. In the end, the council allowed a side dormer which was large enough to fit a staircase within it. This meant the rear dormer could be fully dedicated to additional space. As a result, the loft conversion enabled the creation of two bedrooms and an en-suite. 

Option 3 – spiral staircase

If you have very little space, you can opt for a spiral staircase option. These are less common, but they are a viable option you might want to consider if space is an issue. They waste less space as they overlap the staircase in a spiral shape. As a result, their footprint is considerably less when compared against a conventional staircase. 

If you are considering a loft conversion, have a think about how you would like the new space to interact with the existing property. We have a fantastic blog article which discusses loft conversions in general and offers some before and after photos from our latest projects. We offer free telephone consultations and home visits. During these consultations, we explain more about how we work, and we can answer any initial questions you have on the process. We also offer general advice on your local planning policy restrictions and existing property layout, so you are aware of the options available to you prior to committing to the architectural design phase. You can book a consultation via our online live booking page here, or by contacting our friendly team directly on 0207 043 2378 or emailing

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