At Home Tales, we work to keep our clients happy and highly informed on the minute details of their home improvement projects. We provide an amazing service, preparing design packages for loft conversions, home extensions, and refurbishments. Our finishes and prices are competitive with top home renovation companies in London. Our team have years of experience with loft conversions in London, which requires planning and careful design. We wanted to share our thoughts on the ideal conditions needed to commence with a loft conversion.
So, you’d like to install a loft conversion into your property, but you’re unsure if your house is suitable for one. From our experience, most lofts are convertible, with the exception of the few that have certain planning and structural restrictions.
The first step to deciding whether a loft conversion is right for you is to find out your property’s internal ridge height. In the United Kingdom, the minimum head height required for a loft conversion is 2.2m. There should be an ample amount of useable space in order to move around and live comfortably. You would also need to fit large furniture in the space. This could be a bed or sofa, depending on the intended use of the room. You may also want a shower in here, but low eaves could restrict this, so some of our clients opt for a bath without a shower in this space.
If you find that the floor to ridge height in your loft is below the minimum requirement, there are several solutions available which will require some structural work.
The first action you can take is to change the ridge height of your house by adjusting the pitch of the rear-side of your roof. This means one side of your roof gets torn down and replaced with a steeper structure. It is the least disruptive solution if you are planning to install a dormer extension, which already requires the deconstruction of this side of the roof. This is a good solution but planning permission needs to be obtained as it impacts the external aesthetic of the house.
The next solution would be to lower your top floor’s ceilings. This is all internal, so it saves you the hassle of needing planning permission, though it may take up to 3 weeks to complete. In this time period, your existing ceilings are demolished, then new timber joists are placed at a lower height. Your builder will deal with the plastering and finish of the project. You would typically be able to stay in your home during the works, but if there are essential services on the top floor, it might be better to stay elsewhere.
Something that may heavily impact your decision is whether you are living in a conservation area. Loft conversions are generally acceptable and straightforward for most houses, but this can vary from borough to borough. Planning restriction are far stricter in a conservation area, as local planning authorities tend to dislike making changes within these protected spaces. They would especially be against changes that can be seen from the street, and alterations to any surrounding wildlife. On the other hand, it is not impossible to commence with such a build. It would require careful design considerations to exterior aspects of the conversion. Sometimes innovative/sustainable materials can be advantageous for a project.
Have your neighbours built one?
If there is precedence for a loft conversion on your street and the houses are quite similar, you have a good chance of getting planning permission for one too. This shows that your local council approves of loft conversion developments. On the other hand, if you check the planning portal and there are many refusals on your road, your local planning authority may need a lot more convincing. We can help you with that by putting forward materials and designs that they may find more favourable.
Can your foundations support the extra weight?
Your property’s foundations were built to accommodate a certain weight, and although a loft conversion would only contribute a small weight increase, the builder must still check them. The process includes digging a small hole in the ground to expose the foundations. This is in order to analyse them. If they are not strong enough, your house may need underpinning before commencing with the build, resulting in a large additional expense. Underpinning means to add an extra layer of material to increase the foundation’s strength.
It can be complicated to design the placement of your loft conversion stairs, as usually space can be tight. Therefore, some people choose to install a narrow winding staircase, but it limits accessibility, especially for moving furniture. A purpose-built staircase would be ideal, as it is built bespoke to your property. You must keep in mind that stairs built for purpose are significantly more expensive than standard stairs. At Home Tales we give you multiple options for proposed plans, making sure that you have the best possible layout to fit your home and your budget.
We would love to discuss your projects with you further and share some more insight on the loft conversion process. If you would like to contact us, you can call us on 02070432378 or email us at email@example.com. Alternatively, you can book a free telephone consultation with us on our website here.