DIY Loft Conversion

A detailed look into things to consider.

Before you decide to embark on converting your loft yourself, there are some factors to consider. A huge project such as loft conversion requires time and planning. There is also the important fact about the loft's position. Some loft openings are situated in the bedroom, and as building work will take place there, it is advisable to change your sleeping arrangements. Assessing the roof space by evaluating the walls and ceiling is also extremely important before you take on such a project.

Just like most other types of renovations, planning permission and building regulations will have to be obtained from the local authority. If permission is granted, your loft can be a great additional space for storing surplus furniture or even a guest room with en-suite. Loft conversions are the biggest contributors to increasing the value of your home. Up to 25k can be added to the value of the house with a high quality loft conversion.

In this article, we will look in detail about the steps that need to be taken for successfully completing a loft conversion.

Roof access

The entrance to the loft may need to be moved, depending on what purpose the new loft will be used for. For storage, the access to the loft may be from the bedroom; however, if you want to create an extra bedroom then you should also think about perhaps a special staircase to get to the loft. The loft room will be the biggest room of the house so you should think carefully about where to place the entrance that would be feasible and practical.

Builders or DIY?

Many people don't realize how big a project loft conversions are. They want to take it upon themselves to carry out this huge project; however it is advisable to appoint a qualified architect and a team of builders to help you. They will be able to evaluate the structural aspects of your loft, such as additional flooring and roof beams. There are still many ways of saving money by purchasing the materials yourself, as well as insulating and decorating the loft. It is important to bear in mind that a badly converted loft can end up costing you much more money. Avoid this by employing fully qualified builders/loft converters to take on the project.

Lastly don't forget to obtain more than one quote from different building companies and get recommendations from their previous customers. Quotations always depend on the scale of the project. For instance, if the loft already is equipped with insulation, solid beams and flooring then the cost would be much less than one which needs total renovation.

Planning permission

This largely depends on what type of property you have. Listed building will always require planning permission, whilst some new builds don't. It also depends on the whether this conversion is the initial one for this subject property, and whether the size of the conversion exceeds 50 cubic meters. Make sure you check this with your local authority.

After the loft conversion plans have been drawn up by your architect, you should submit them to the local authority for approval. It usually takes about 3 months for these documents to be considered. After the approval has been received from local authority, you need to prepare a Building and Fire regulation planning to the Building control dept. of local authority. Therefore, a further 6 weeks waiting is required.

As previously mentioned, loft conversions can vastly increase the value of the house. Upon selling your house, the prospective buyer's solicitor, will want to check all the legalities of the loft conversion, by examining the approval papers from local authority. Therefore to ensure you will be able to sell the house with no come-backs, you must refrain from converting the loft all by yourself without the assistance of professionals or by avoiding planning permission.

Materials for converting lofts

It is crucial to stick to your budget when it comes to buying materials. There are numerous options and accessories for lofts, such as sky lights, ladders, lighting etc. However if you go overboard on materials, you will blow the budget on labour costs. It is better to purchase necessary materials direct from building manufacturers rather than shops. There are some online stores that also offer great deals. The other option is to get a carpenter to build a staircase customized to your specific requirements and save you money at the same time. Shopping for the best deals is the name of the game and sticking to your budget obviously.

Different types of conversion

There are two popular types of conversions, Dormer style and roof light conversions. Dormer style is implemented when there is not sufficient headroom, so extra space must be built as a dormer place. It is constructed at the back of the roof to offer flooring and living space to maximize the general living area. This additional space will give more depth to the roof space. With this type of conversion, normally, you won't need planning permission or building regulation; however, do check this out with your local authority before embarking on such a project.

A roof light loft conversion is the opposite. There is enough room for the conversion and the cheapest conversion because there is no need to carry out any major alterations. It is suitable for smaller rooms such as study or bedroom. You may think there are a limited number of options when it comes to choosing a design. However, this is not the case. Just have a look at other loft conversions on the internet to get a good idea of the various different designs. This method also creates a bright and airy feel to the room with high quality PVC windows.

The practicality

When constructing a loft conversion, the loft flooring will have to be strong enough to be able to hold the excess weight. Extra wooden beams will also be important to support the walls further. With such projects, it can be very difficult to correct the mistakes at later stage if not done correctly in the first place.

Lofts nowadays are converted into games room, guest room, storage, nurseries, or modern living rooms. The main purpose of converting lofts is the lack of space in a house or a top floor flat. People get frustrated with lack of storage or rooms. Instead of moving to a bigger house which would cost much more money, converting a loft can be much more practical and budget friendly.

You can save substantially if you shop around for the materials and do the finishing touches yourself. If your budget is very tight, there is the option of employing a builder who will build a "shell" loft. This type of conversion is very much just a shell, with floors, walls and other major works, with the main project left to you to complete. This method is very favourable amongst DIY enthusiasts who are knowledgeable in building work and can carry out the project themselves as the main work has already been done. Of course this all depends on whether you are fortunate enough to have that roof space in the first place!