Loft Ideas, Planning Guide and Tips

Loft Ideas, Planning Guide and Tips

Loft Ideas, Planning Guide and Tips

by admin on October 17, 2012

Great Loft Ideas For Any Room If you have the space, converting your loft into a room is the best and most budget-friendly way of extending your home and creating more liveable space.

Although attic rooms are sometimes seen as a make-do quick fix, less satisfactory option than undertaking a full blown extension project, a loft area which is strategically designed can turn your dark and dusty loft into a luxury penthouse suite that could potentially become a space that you end up using on a daily basis and possibly even your favourite room in the house.

If you are thinking of starting a loft room project, there are two main available options; either have an uncomplicated conversion which turns the existing area into a habitable room or a more complex loft extension which increases the number of cubic feet therefore adding one or more dormers.

If you opt for the former option, it is advisable that you use the services of a specialist loft conversion company as they may have worked on conversions around your area and so be familiar with the amount of work required and building/conversion regulations etc.

If you are hoping for a more personalised, bespoke conversion, then you may be better off contacting an architect who can help you to visualise your ideas and suggest options that may not have crossed your mind so that you can have an individualised loft which is tailored specially for you.

Things to Consider Before You Start

Loft Ideas

Having even a simple conversion done can be a costly project and a ballpark starting price for a terraced or gable-end property is £25,000.

If it is a semi-detached property with a hip-end roof then you will need to be prepared to pay more and a full bespoke restructure could cost you up to £50,000.

Don’t let this scare you off though; you will be adding a room to your house and of course, budget will be affected by various factors including types and number of windows and the grade of material used.

The good thing about having a loft converted is that most of the work can be completed from the exterior of the house using scaffolding and so there will be minimal disruption to daily life and the interior of your home.

Whilst the scaffolding is up, use it as an opportunity to so any other maintenance that may be required sooner or later like small roof jobs, guttering or even window cleaning.

Bear in mind that converting your loft space will be getting rid of storage space. Think about items that you will need to re-house and how you are going to store them from now on. Use any areas that you have which are under 1.8m like cavities under eaves which will otherwise be left unused and transform them into storage so that you can hide away bulky items such as suitcases.

The ceiling joists will not be able to support the weight of people and furniture and so the floor will need to be reinforced. This may mean that you will lose valuable inches as the floor will need to be raised slightly although an alternative is to lower the ceiling of the room that is directly below. This will make a big difference and will probably not be as expensive as you first imagine especially if you are putting in a new floor anyway. Insulation will be another factor that will bring the ceiling level about 75-100mm lower.

The most eco-friendly type of insulation is sheep’s wool because it is breathable, easy to install and has a high fire resistance. For more information, go to uk.sheepwoolinsulation.com.

More recently built, modern houses may feature waist-high struts which will need to be removed by professionals.

When selecting exterior materials, look for those which are low maintenance for example choose powder coated aluminium window frames which are maintenance-free and provide insulation rather than wooden frames which will be difficult to paint.

Expect a basic conversion to take between six and eight weeks whereas a more complex project can take up to four months to complete.

Building Regulations

Loft Ideas

Loft amendments, whether it is a conversion or extension, usually come under the Permitted Development rules which mean that you do not need to apply for planning permission as it is automatic.

You will however, require planning permission if you live in a listed building or in a conservation area.

You will also need a Party Wall agreement and ensure that any work that is undertaken complies with local building regulations.

Your architect will be able to provide you with advice or go to planningportal.gov.uk for more information. Other things to bear in mind are:

Loft Ideas

  • At the time of writing this article (year 2012), you are currently allowed to extend a terraced house by up to 40 cubic metres and a semi or detached property by a maximum of 50 cubic metres. Rather surprisingly, there are no height restrictions for loft rooms although if it any lower than 2.2m, you will probably find it quite impractical.
  • Furthermore, you cannot build any part of the extension higher than the highest point of the current roof.
  • An architect will also be able to help you choose suitable materials for your project as they must match the materials that have already been used to construct your property.
  • If you own a top floor flat, do not automatically assume that you have rights to the loft space. Check whether it is yours before starting work and if not, buy it from the freeholder if the option is available. If you do become the owner though, you will also then be responsible for any roof repairs that may be required. Another thing is that flats do not have the same Permitted Development rights as houses and so we will need to apply for planning permission.
  • According to regulations, if your property has more than two storeys and has a habitable top floor (which is used as more than just a bathroom or storage room) then you must have an escape route (‘protected corridor’) all the way until the front door for emergencies. You also need to install fire doors and smoke detectors on each floor. If you have period doors which you do not wish to replace, you do have the option to place a smoke detector in all of the rooms instead.

Loft Ideas For Stairs and Windows

Loft Ideas

When positioning new stairs, you need to ensure that there is at least 2.2m clearance at the arrival point. This may reduce your options as to where they can be positioned and may not necessarily be the best place in your room layout. An architect will be able to provide you with all available options.

Although it makes sense and is usually easier to continue staircase colours throughout the house, you can create extra drama by having a contrasting staircase

Loft Ideas

If you are hoping for maximum internal space, a large box dormer with a flat room is best although smaller rooms look better from the outside.

Loft Ideas

Make windows into a feature instead of just placing them for practical purposes. This does not necessarily mean that you need to spend loads and get custom-built windows made as even standard, readily-available windows can be used to create a customised look. One idea is to have a combination of both vertical and sloping windows next to each other to enable maximum sunlight and a bigger, better view. You can get vertical windows starting at £516, sloping windows from £294 and blinds from £55.20.

Loft Ideas, Planning Guide and Tips

Rooms with a front roof slope are the ideal candidate for Velux windows and you can even get ones which come with in-built blinds which neatly slide into a pocket for a little extra charge. Houses in conservation areas may benefit from sleeker, low-profile skylights.

Install a skylight if it is not possible to have normal windows as even the smallest skylight will let some natural light in and avoid the claustrophobic feeling of being in a box. If space is limited, keep it simple and keep the range of materials to a limit so that it does not unnecessarily clutter up space.

Loft Ideas

Loft Ideas For Showers and Bathrooms

Loft Ideas

Having a small en-suite bathroom linked to a loft room is usually a good investment as it adds more value that it costs to set up. As it will be a compact bath or shower room, you can afford to splash out on luxurious materials as you won’t need much of it to create an impact.

When placing an en-suite into a loft, drainage will most likely be the biggest issue you will need to overcome. Try to design it so that pipes are located towards the back of the house which is usually where existing waste pipes are positioned. Don’t worry too much if this is a problem as pipes can be run under floorboards and modern options allow you to locate the toilet further away.

Loft Ideas

If the property has a good water heating system then getting it to supply an additional bathroom should not cause a problem. If you have a gravity-fed system however, and you intend for the new bathroom to be used regularly, then you may have to install a pump or sealed pressurised system like the Megaflow system, which will allow you to have mains pressure hot water.

If you have a tight space, you can install a space-saving shower room although you will need to have the shower head mounted above head height and so you may need advice from your architect if you have a sloping roof.

Loft Ideas

It may seem like a rather barmy idea but you could have a top-floor en-suite with a freestanding bath near the window because there is not much chance of being overlooked. Placing a neat basin and console under the eaves will save space and adding a bold wall covering will add interest to the otherwise neutral theme.

You will need to include some form of ventilation into your plans as they are a necessity in showers and bathrooms. Either install an extractor fan or have windows which feature air vents so that air can circulate and excess damp/moisture and mould is avoided.

You can also have electrical under floor heating which is not overly expensive but will keep the bathing area dry and warm. Instead of having a traditional radiator, consider having a heated towel rail although you will need to get one with an electric heating coil if it is going to be added into your heating system so that you can still have it on when the rest of the main heating has been switched off.

Making the Most of It

Loft Ideas

Don’t be put off if your loft has a slanted roof which makes the space look less useable; there are plenty of ways that you can use up any redundant space under the eaves. The most obvious solution is freestanding storage solutions although to make maximum use of the space, you could have custom made fitted cupboards or drawers, a built in seating area (perhaps with a dual purpose as a lift-up top storage box) or even have a bed made to fit niftily in the angled space (maybe with cupboard doors or drawers in the base).

Even if space is not limited, investing in bespoke floor-to ceiling fitted storage will make the most of your space and give it a more unified, polished look. If you include it into your design from the start, it should not be hugely expensive either.

Also, if you have shallow recesses next to a chimney breast then add open shelving to effectively use the space for books or decorative accessories. On the other hand, if you are planning on having the bed up against the chimney breast, you can have bedside cabinets with recessed lighting built into the alcoves or even just place freestanding ones on either side to store items you may need to keep close during the night.

Loft Ideas

Keep lofts a pale colour to help give a feeling of space and light and avoid using a dense colour on ceilings as this will make it feel much lower. Most companies tend to use white throughout because it opens out the room and generates interesting shadow play from different angles.

To have a seamless, flowing look, use the same carpet or timber in the whole space regardless of how many dormers there are and then have a complimentary surface in the bathroom such as rubber or tiles, in the same tones.

If your loft walls are far from perfect and you want to try a different approach, consider adding wall panelling which is not only easy to install but also provides extra insulation in a room where it can get quite cold. The Wall Panelling Company can do this for with panelling starting from £60 per square metre.

If your room height is not very high, avoid central pendant lights as they will stunt the room further and instead add wall mounted lights. On the other hand, if you have a steeply pitched roof, make the most of it by displaying a stunning light fixture or lantern.

Folding doors are amazing for letting light in and making the most of a good view. To maximise window height, you may need to set the glazing back from the slope of the roof.

Loft Ideas

All images credited to LivingEtc magazine June 2011


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