Attic Conversion: Where to Start?

Do you want to convert your empty loft into a functional space? An attic conversion will increase your home’s value and extend the usability of the area you have available. You can convert your attic into a home office, a bedroom for a family member, a gym or an entertainment room.

Why Should You Convert Your Attic?

Changing your attic is an inexpensive form of home extension. Converting your attic can increase your property value by up to 20%. If you are thinking of selling your home, it makes sense to add an extra bedroom or workspace. A loft conversion is also an easy and inexpensive alternative to moving or building an extension if you and your family need more space to accommodate your lifestyles.

Before you start converting your attic, consult with a real estate professional to determine how the project will boost your property’s value. Knowing your return on investment will allow you to budget accordingly.

Can Your Attic be Functional?

The first thing you should do is to determine if your attic is fit for a conversion project. The usability of your attic room comes down to its size. From the one side to the other, the attic should have a measurement of at least 5,500mm. From the front to the back, it should be at least 7,500mm long.

The height of the roof’s pitch angle is also significant. You want the central head height to be as high as possible. The internal height has to measure at least 2,500mm. If your attic’s dimensions meet these requirements, you will find it easier to convert it into a functional space.

How Will You Use the Loft?

You may be giving thought to a loft conversion out of necessity. For example, your family may be growing, you started working from home, or your kids want their own space where they can keep themselves busy.

Attic Conversion
Attic Living Room

If you want to convert your attic because you realise that it has certain benefits, you still have to decide how you will use the space. To determine what you need the most regarding liveable space, consider your family’s lifestyle and potential problems that may arise. For example, two siblings that are almost teens and that are still sharing a room.

Attic Conversion
Attic Gym

Lower and angled ceilings can restrict your movement, so you may not be able to fit any furniture you want. You may also be somewhat limited in terms of functionality.

If you don’t need a specific functional space, you can always convert your attic into a storage space with built-in shelves and cupboards.

Could I convert my attic into a bathroom?

Traditionally, bathrooms in lofts have consisted of an electric shower, a washbasin and a toilet. Usually in a cubicle with a Velux window.

They are normally located on the back wall of the attic room where an easy connection can be made to the existing bathroom waste pipes on the outside back wall. Because it is almost always impossible to position the cold water tank in an overhead location, these bathrooms are usually fed from the ‘mains’.

Technically, this is not allowed under current regulations; nevertheless, it is the way most of them are done. The alternative is to install a ‘negative head’ pump, which pumps both hot and cold water from the hot press to the attic.

The disadvantage is that you must have hot water in the cylinder before you can take a shower unless of course, you are a masochist who likes cold showers. Sometimes when mains water pressure is not great, there is no other option. And these pumps can be quite noisy.

If there are two electric showers in a house it is necessary to install a switch so that only one shower can operate at once. The power used by two showers at the same time is too great and will blow the fuses.

What about a habitable status?

99% of attics are classified as storage rooms because roofs are not high enough. 50% 0f the floor area needs to be 2.4 meters high (just under 8 feet) in order to qualify.

If your roof is over 8 feet high you could achieve habitable status by adding a flat roof dormer to the back. Otherwise, your roof would need to be greater than 11 feet high to get the same result. 

What if your roof is high enough? You will need to apply for planning permission for habitable status (cost around 1k to 3k). Then you are to comply with fire regulations for 3-storey houses. 


Can You do the Work Yourself?

If you have experience in DIY tasks around the house, chances are that you will be able to convert the attic yourself. If the conversion requires a thorough cleaning, carpet installation, and paint job, you may also be able to handle things on your own.

An extensive house remodelling project, on the other hand, can be complicated. You have to adhere to Building Regulations, and some installations may be too difficult for a layperson.

Companies that specialise in loft conversions will be able to carry out a comprehensive project. They will also work with the planning department to ensure compliance with all relevant regulations. If you want to save money, you can complete the smaller DIY tasks before calling in the experts.

Who are the Relevant Service Providers?

You can choose from a number of professional service providers that will be able to help you with your loft conversion.

  • Designers and Architects

A designer or architect will take note of your needs and prepare a suitable design. The designer will also help you to obtain the appropriate Approval from the planning department. They may also offer to find a builder and manage the project for you as part of their service package.

  • Loft Conversion Specialists

Loft conversion companies usually have a team of designers, builders, and consultants to help you with your loft conversions. Apart from designing and construction services, they will also help you to get the relevant approvals.

  • Builders

General builders will typically have the skillset and experience to take control over your attic conversion project. Some builders work with architects that can provide you with consultation and design services.

Make sure that you find a reputable service provider to help you with your project. To find the best professionals, do an online search or ask your friends for recommendations. Get at least three quotations, and ask the service provider to visit the site before you sign up for their services.

Attic Conversion in 90 seconds:

What Planning Permissions Do You Need?

Generally speaking, it is best to contact your local planning department before you start your project. If you want to extend the roof space, or if you live in a conservation area, the chances are that you may need planning permission.

The objective of Building Regulations (UK) & Building Standards (Ireland) is to ensure that your structure’s integrity remains intact and that the conversion doesn’t hold any safety risks.

If your service provider has experience with attic conversions, they will be able to assist you. The designer or builder may also offer to submit the necessary plans and documents on your behalf.

Loft Conversion: Building Regulations and Planning Permission

Converting your attic into a guest bedroom or home office can make your life much more comfortable. The increase in functional space can also boost your property’s value.

To ensure a high-quality conversion project and proper regulatory assistance, employ the services of a professional that has sufficient experience in attic conversions.

Take your time when planning an attic conversion. Although this is more affordable than building an exterior extension, you still want to make sure that you maximise the cost-efficiency of the project. High-quality materials and services may cost more, but it will ensure better value in the long-run.

When you draw up a budget, a healthy contingency fund can be a lifesaver when you run into unexpected issues.

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