Which Style of Loft Conversion is Right For You?
More people are opting to convert their lofts into living areas in answer to the need of more space for the family. Converting a loft is definitely easier on the pocket than moving to a bigger house. It is also less stressful as it is by no means a walk in the park to relocate. The new trend among growing families today is to extend their homes vertically as most old-styled homes have steep roof that could be converted to lofts.
As most lofts are built as part of the roof, most are not structurally built to carry live load. In this regard, make sure you have a qualified architect or contractor to look over the structural strength of you loft. Another point to consider is to check if the ceiling of the loft has at least 2.10 meter headroom. A headroom lower than 2.10 meter is not permissible.
Have you thought about as to where to locate the stairs? Will the staircase be just a pull-down kind, a circular one or the usual step stairs? When all things have been considered, including the purpose of the new space (bedroom, playroom, home office, and family room) then it's time to consider what type of loft conversion you want. There are four basic types of loft conversions: dormer, mansard, the hip to gable and the roof light loft conversion. The decision as to what type of loft conversion you want largely depends on the type of existing roofing that you have.
Dormer Loft Conversion
A dormer extension is best if your loft has very restricted space and headroom. A dormer loft conversion will also provide the extra space and improved access to a staircase. The most prominent feature of a dormer extension is its flat sides that extend upwards from the house's roof spanning a greater part but the whole length of the existing roof. You have the option to put up a dormer extension at the front, back or side of your house. Before deciding where to locate the dormer extension, make sure you ask the local building regulations office for stipulations and rulings.
The external effect of a dormer extension is an aesthetically pleasing box-like structure protruding from the roof. The dormer converted loft could be accented by big windows for natural light and ventilation. On the inside, a dormer will have a horizontal ceiling and vertical walls. It would not be sloped as the original roofing. The dormer extension will not only make your loft more spacious but will also add height to your loft which could be very beneficial if you plan on adding a bathroom. This type of loft conversion needs a building permit from the local building regulations office.
Mansard Loft Conversion
This type of loft conversion is extremely popular in the greater London area a few years back. This type of conversion is easier to plan and build as it does not entail for an extension on the outer part of the house. The Mansard conversion is practical for houses that have flat roof and not those with triangle roofing. There is an even distribution of ceiling height in this conversion just like a dormer conversion but there are no parts of the conversion protruding from the walls.
A mansard conversion is best constructed in the rear part of your house. You may opt to locate the conversion to the front of the house too. Mansard loft conversion are usually seen in terraced or row housing and for houses with flat roofs or with a London type roof which are steep at the sides and a flat crown. It is usual to see a mansard conversion with brick sides and the front part of the roof with a pitch at 72 degrees. This type of loft conversion is usually constructed where planning permission is needed especially if your property falls in a conservation area.
Hip to Gable Loft Conversion
This type of conversion will entail changing a hip roof to a gable roof to accommodate a loft. The construction work to be done with this kind of conversion is pretty much extensive that a building permit is necessary. The structural stability of a hipped roof is insufficient to carry the load of the new floor beams of the proposed loft conversion. The headroom that is available in a hipped roof does not meet the minimum 2.10 meters in most cases therefore there would not be enough room for a habitable space in a hipped roof loft conversion.
Changing a hip to a gable roof will make it feasible to convert the roof space into a habitable loft. If the hip to gable roof change is too much in terms of cost and effort, then the best option is to opt for a dormer loft conversion.
Roof Light Conversions
If your loft has enough space and you don't need to build an extension, then you can opt to go for roof light conversion. The way this goes, you don't have to change the slope of the roof or build extensions for your loft. All you need to do is add roof light or skylight or windows into the roof and you are done. This is granting that all the structural requirements are met. The only setback with this type of conversion is the limitation in space that is brought about by the slopes of the roof. However this type of loft conversion will not cause too much disruption to the inside and outside of your house. This type of conversion is best for lofts that have a bigger space even when the roof slopes are considered. A roof light loft conversion does not need any building permit unless your property is in a conservation area.