There are any number of reasons why you might want more usable space in your house. Maybe an extra bedroom, a guest room or a family room. Maybe a games room for teenagers. In all of these cases, converting your attic space, or loft, can give you the extra space you need without breaking the bank. Extending the house is a possibility but that means giving up valuable garden space and a lot of upheaval.
Whatever the reasons for needing the additional space, by far the easiest way to get it is by loft conversion. There are, however, a lot of rules and regulations, all put there for good reasons, to be observed and adhered to. It’s certainly not something that you should consider tackling yourself.
Whatever the reason, because of the economic problems the country is facing, and has done since 2008, it is still cheaper to convert a loft than it would be to sell your existing house and buy a bigger one, after taking into account Stamp Duty, maybe re-mortgaging admin costs, legal fees, estate agents fees and removal costs. As we are based in Spalding in Lincolnshire we tend to focus on loft conversion in Lincolnshire, although we also work in Cambridgeshire.
So, a loft conversion is cheaper but is it easier?
In most normal loft conversions, where the additional space gained is reasonable and you do not alter the profile of the roof, then a Planning Application most likely will not be required.
However, permission will be required if :
- The height of the roof is increased
- The floor plan of the loft is increased
- The cubic capacity, or volume, of the roof space has been increased
The good news is that, in Lincolnshire, converting your loft falls under the scope of ‘permitted development’. As long as you meet the conditions and the factors laid out in the conditions which you can find in the Government Planning Portal, there should be no need to apply for planning permission. Why we mention Lincolnshire, apart from the fact that much of our work is done in that county, the regulations vary from county to county, so be sure and check with the planning authorities where you live.
Converting Your Loft For Storage
Even if all you need is a bit of extra storage space, and do not intend creating any habitable space, the joists that support you your ceiling in the room below are probably not strong enough to support the extra weight that most people seem to be able to cram into an attic. One you add you own weight to that and maybe that of a helper, you can see how the joists can quickly become overloaded. It may surprise you but even for a simple job like this you should consult your local Building Control Offer just to be on the safe side. The easiste way to get around the problem is to call in a reputable builder like Belmont who will be able to make an assessment and give you good technical advice. it may seem like a lot of hassle now, but you will be glad you did when you come to sell the property and your prospective buyer comments on the bowing ceiling!
Converting Your Attic To Create More Living Space
The more usual reason for converting the roof space is to make more living, or habitable, space, such as a bedroom or two, a bathroom, and a family room. In other words, space which will be used just like the rest of the space in your house. Note that even if your create a space bedroom which is only ever used once a year at Christmas time, you still need to go through the same process. If you don’t, then there could be some very serious problems. To stay on the right side of the rules. get a builder or some other professional to work out what has to be done. Ask them to get the necessary approvals. Some of the things that you will have to consider are listed below.
- Load bearing Walls. We have already mentioned that you may well need stronger joists in the attic. With this comes the question of supporting the joists that will carry the extra weight. For example, if you do, or have to, add new, stronger joists then it follows that the wall that supports them must be placed on a solid foundation all the way to floor level. If this is not the case then you may have to fit a pillar, strut or other support..
- Dormer Windows. Dormer windows are usually made of wood. You may have to think about permission possibly being required to add a dormer window. Or windows that alter the building profile. You should consider dormer windows that overlook a neighbour’s property. Lastly, you should consider the risk of fire spreading to or from a neighbouring property.
- Fire Safety Measures. When you start to add additional living space to your property, you will have to review the fire safety equipment. Fire resistant doors at the bottom of stairways and interlinked mains powered fire detectors are just two items that will have to be considered.
- Sound Insulation. If you live in a semi-detached or a terraced house, you will need to consider the sound insulation between your loft and the your neighbour’s loft. You will probably have to improve the party wall. If you are working with Belmont, we’ll take care of all these details for you as part of the job.