Whether you want a new master suite, home office or space for guests, extending your home upwards can add value and space to your property
All you need to know if you’re thinking of extending upwards
When your family outgrows your home, your thoughts might turn to extending outwards or moving house. However, converting your loft can be a less costly and more efficient way to optimise your home’s layout and increase space. A well-insulated loft can save you money on energy bills by keeping your house warm, and most loft extensions can increase the value of your property by up to 20 per cent, according to Architect Your Home.
A loft conversion can take on any number of shapes and sizes. How do you want your space to be used? You might be dreaming of a master suite to escape the kids, a guest bedroom to host friends that have come to visit, a home office for your business, or a studio space for hobbies. You can be as creative as you like with your ambitions: whether you want a snug or a cinema room, a repurposed loft can accommodate it all.
Loft conversions cost around £40,000 for a dormer conversion, but the overall price depends on elements like window choices and materials. It is also influenced by how you go about your conversion. Options like modular conversions, where the room is built off-site before being delivered, usually include installation, fixtures and fittings in their prices – but while it saves the stress of finding tradespeople to do these jobs, it can be more expensive. ➤
Is your home suitable?
Before you can begin planning your design, you need to make sure your roof space is suitable for a conversion. ‘Bear in mind that the minimum height for a traditional roof is 2.2 to 2.4 metres,’ says Jude Tugman, managing director at Architect
Your Home. ‘If your space doesn’t meet this requirement, you might want to rethink your plans.’
Once this is done, there are other practicalities to consider.
‘Make sure you check whether or not the space is weatherproof and if you have a chimney that needs to be moved,’ says Jude. ‘If your roof has felt under the tiles, this is normally an indicator that the room will be properly insulated. If there is a chimney or other obstacles present, such as a water tank, then double check that they won’t conflict with the building works – if they might, obtain some advice from your architect on the easiest ways to move them elsewhere.’
What kind of extension is best for you?
There are five main types of loft conversion to choose from:
› Rooflight, also know as Velux, conversions, are the simplest type of loft conversion you can opt for.
They involve setting one or more windows in the slope of the roof, strengthening the floor, and adding insulation and plastering.
› Dormer conversions involve extending the space out slightly in a flat-roofed, box-like extension, which adds more light to the new room as well as extra roof space with more headroom.
› Hip-to-gable conversions involve changing the sloping side roof of a semi-detached or end-of-terrace house into a vertical gable, adding extra space and headroom to the loft.
› Mansard conversions, like hipto-gable conversions, involve more structural work. One or both roof slopes are replaced with steep sloping sides and a flat roof over the top to increase space.
› For lofts that are unsuitable for conversion, a modular extension is a good option: the existing roof is removed and a ready-made room installed in its place.
‘The type of loft conversion you opt for is usually dictated by price and property type,’ says Becke Livesey, director at Econoloft. ‘A Velux loft
conversion is one of the most popular designs and is suitable for most homes – and as such, it is the most cost-effective. Dormers are also much liked and provide lots of space. If you decide to have a mansard or hip-to-gable conversion, then this often means making changes to the overall roof shape.’
Do you need planning permission?
With permitted development, you can add up to 40 cubic metres to a terraced house and 50 cubic metres to a detached or semi-detached property, which includes any earlier additions made by you or a previous owner. The structure shouldn’t extend beyond the highest part of the existing roof and you should avoid balconies, verandas and raised platforms.
While most loft conversions don’t require planning permission, your project will need buildings regulations approval. A surveyor will assess several key aspects of your scheme, including fire escapes, plumbing and electrics, to make sure that it’s safe.
Additionally, if you live in a semi-detached or terraced house – where you share at least one wall with a neighbour – you will need a Party Wall Agreement to make sure your neighbour is aware of the proposal.
For more information about what comes under permitted development, visit planningportal.co.uk.
Choosing your team
There are two main options when it comes to getting your loft conversion designed and built. The first is to hire an architect or designer to produce drawings, and then ask builders to tender for the job. In some cases, architects may have a company they have worked with in the past, and are therefore happy to recommend them to you. You’ll also have to employ a ➤
Dedraft architects created this stunning Corten steel-clad extension to a top-floor flat in Walthamstow, east London. It cost £63,500
Right the owners of this house created a master bedroom and en suite in their new loft conversion, as well as a handy dressing room. the extension was completed by a1 Lofts & extensions and cost just over £50,000
Above Douglas fir cladding helps this extension by fraher architects blend in with its Victorian terrace surroundings. the project was shortlisted in the Don’t Move, Improve 2018 awards, and a similar design would cost around £3,000 per m2
Right Landmark Lofts transformed this two-bedroom maisonette by adding an open-plan loft conversion. the en suite is separated from the master bedroom by a subtle wall partition. the project cost around £45,000
Left Build team converted this loft space into a bedroom as part of a wider project renovating a Victorian house in south London. the conversion cost £38,000 plus Vat