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Planning & Designing your Loft Conversion

Loft exterior, West London

Loft Conversion Uses

Your loft conversion can add up to 30% more space to your home – use it wisely! While home offices, bedrooms, and bathrooms are extremely practical and add value to your home, some of the more unusual loft conversion rooms can help you gain even more from your loft conversion.

Gym & Spa

If you prefer to work out at home, a gym is the perfect addition to your house. We have worked with a number of clients who added fully equipped gyms to their homes, or minimalist yoga studios to escape the stress of London life. Hot tubs, saunas, and opulent bathrooms are a fantastic way to improve the experience and add even more value to your home.

Playroom

Giving your children the space and privacy to unleash their creativity can be fantastic for their development, and it keeps the rest of the house toy-free. As your children grow, this can move from being a play area to a space where they can play video games, study, or just relax with friends without disrupting with the rest of the household.

Home Cinema

Film lovers often dream of a comfortable, sound-proofed home cinema where they can entertain friends and watch the latest releases. Black out blinds with ensure that you see every detail on your projection system, while purpose made seating makes it far more enjoyable than a standard cinema visit.

Bar

If you prefer more active entertainment, a home bar is a fantastic place to entertain guests or simply unwind after a hard day. Creating a space focussed on conversation and relaxation (and well-mixed drinks) can create a social centrepiece for your home and a fantastic conclusion for dinner parties.

Loft Conversion Types

There are 4 main types of loft conversion: Velux, Dormer, Gable End, and Mansard. While some loft conversions may fall into two categories, most loft conversions will have a single, distinct type.

Velux Loft Conversion

Velux loft conversions are one of the simplest conversion types – we convert the interior of your roofspace and add windows to the roof itself. These windows follow the plane of the roof, and do not create extensions or protrusions.

A Velux loft conversion is an excellent way to convert your loft quickly, often without having to wait for planning permission. For the loft space to be usable, it’s important that you have plenty of headroom for this loft conversion as Velux loft conversions do not increase the headroom in any way. The minimum for any loft conversion is 2.3 meters at the highest point, but we usually suggest that you have slightly more to compensate for the sloping walls.

Velux loft conversions are also a popular choice for people living in conservation areas, as other loft conversion types are often prohibited. The rooms of a Velux loft conversion are extremely bright and airy due to the angle of the windows – they let in considerably more natural light than standard windows and offer more privacy within the room.

Velux windows come with a wide range of options. Blinds are purpose-made and come in a range of fabrics to suit the décor of your room. You can also opt for black-out blinds to ensure that the room is dark at night, and to maintain a cool room in summer.

Due to the angle of the window, it can cause issues if they’re left open in the rain. Electrical windows offer a solution; the sensors will detect rainfall and close the window if you are out of the house or elsewhere in the building.

Dormer Loft Conversion

Dormer loft conversions are one of the more popular loft conversion types. While the Dormers do project out from the pitch of the roof, these conversions do not involve extensive changes to the rest of the roof so the process for this kind of loft conversion is often allowed as a permitted development.

Dormer loft conversions get their name from the windows that jut out from the roof – there are a number of dormer styles, and they often provide more headroom than a standard Velux loft conversion.

Gable End Loft Conversion

Gable End loft conversions are only suitable for detached or semi-detached houses with hipped roofs. A hipped roof is a roof where the sides are angled inwards, rather than continuing the existing angle of the walls. Gable End loft conversions involve changing these ‘hips’ to ‘gables’ by adding an extension onto the top corner of the roof so that the walls continue vertically rather than angling inwards.

Mansard Loft Conversion

Mansard loft conversions provide the most space, but often require planning permission because they make extreme changes to the roof. A Mansard conversion involves altering the shape of the roof; rather than having 3 sides making a triangle cross-section, a large projection is created with a back wall that slopes inwards at an angle of 72 degrees. This changes the cross section of the roof to a 4-sided shape.

Double Mansard loft conversions are also an option. Instead of only altering one side of the roof, both sides are extended. This essentially creates a normal, additional storey to the building with slightly angled walls. This is an excellent way to add the maximum possible space to your home. This is not an option for some areas of London due to planning restrictions, but they have been installed throughout Fulham, Clapham, and Wimbledon so speak to our team and architects about your options.

Choosing the Right Type for You

Our team will provide more details about your options based on your property, local area, and your requirements. It’s important to consider whether you are willing to wait for planning permission, and the likelihood of gaining that permission in your area when planning your loft conversion. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Lighting

It’s impossible to overestimate the impact of lighting on a loft conversion (or any room, for that matter). Adding a variety of light sources to your room provides more flexibility and lets you adjust for your mood or activities – consider adding a number of ceiling lights, floor lamps, and a few table lamps to each room.

Staircases

As well as providing essential access to your loft conversion, the design and position of your staircase will have an impact on the lower storeys of the house and general layout of your conversion.

Your staircase will need at least 1.9m of headroom (although more is advisable to prevent the area from feeling claustrophobic). Space efficiency is important to most clients, particularly when the staircase cuts into existing rooms within the house. While steeper and narrower staircases are more space efficient, the maximum pitch is 42 degrees. While there are no width requirements, it’s important to remember that these stairs will be used to transport furniture to the loft conversion, and need to be practical if the rooms will be in daily use.

Spiral staircases are often attractive and provide some of the most space efficient options. However, many clients prefer to extend their existing staircase up to the loft conversion to improve the flow through the house.

Working with Your Floor Plan

Our architectural partners work with you to design a loft conversion that fits in with the rest of your home and feels like a natural, cohesive part of your home. They will provide advice on staircase positions and potential issues to ensure that the finished item works with your existing flow and fits into your floor plan as efficiently as possible.

Attractive Designs

While there are a number of building regulations that apply to stairs, there is a lot of room for creativity. Your staircase can have a spiral, beautiful bannisters, alternate treads, or it can be built as a floating design to match the rest of your interior. Let us know what you’d like or even show us pictures of staircases you’d like to replicate so access to your loft conversion is beautiful as well as functional.

mansard, London

Planning Permission

Most loft conversions can be completed as permitted development, but these are subject to a number of restrictions. It also depends on the type of property you own, and whether any permitted developments have already been completed on the house.

A permitted development must:

  • Have a maximum volume of 50 cubic meters (40 for terraced houses)
  • Not extend beyond the plane of the existing roof space
  • Not be higher than the highest part of the existing roof
  • Be built with materials that blend in with the existing house
  • Not have any verandas, balconies, or raised platforms
  • Be set back as far as possible from the original eaves (at least 20cm)
  • Use obscure glazing for any side-facing windows or any openings 1.7m above the floor

Many areas of London and individual homes have further restrictions to permitted developments, so it’s essential that you research the subject thoroughly before commencing work. Planning permission in London is determined by each of the 33 London Boroughs rather than a centralised authority. If you require planning permission, you will need to submit designs to your local authority for their consideration – however, you may be able to complete your loft conversion as a permitted development without needing to go through the full process to gain planning consent. Our architectural partners will ensure that your build fulfils all of the requirements.

Party Wall Agreements

Party wall agreements are essential if your work involves a shared wall. Depending on your relationship with your neighbours, this can be presented to sign over a visit or can be sent to them by our party wall surveyors.

These agreements are created to safeguard both parties if damage is done to your neighbour’s property. As part of the process, pictures are taken of the wall to prove that damage has or has not been done as part of the building work.

These agreements can take just a few minutes if you are on good terms with your neighbours, but if they are contested it can take weeks or even months to put a suitable agreement in place.

Building Regulations

Whether you require building regulations depends on the type of build – you may not need them even if you need planning permission for your loft conversion, or you may need them for a permitted development.

You will need building regulations if:

  • You are installing a new boiler
  • You are converting the loft to be used a living space with a permanent stairway, windows, and electricity
  • You are making structural changes to your home
  • You are removing and rebuilding a major part of a wall
  • You are re-roofing and using a different material
  • You are replacing windows or external doors
  • You are using cavity wall insulation

Building regulations are not required if you are just using the loft space for storage.

Most loft conversions do require building regulations, which means that Building control must be instructed at least 5 working days before any structural work takes place. They can be registered with the local council or with a private Building Control company.

An inspector will come to your property at various stages during the build to check on progress, and the final inspection will take place once the job is finished. However, the completion certificate is only issued once the Part P electricals certificate has been issued.

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