Loft Conversion

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Guide to Loft Conversions

Most homes have an attic space, but for many, it is underutilised and neglected. As more and more people choose to improve rather than move, could you be making more from your loft space? Having a loft conversion could transform your attic into a more usable space, whether you’re after an extra bedroom or a home office with better views.

Here we’ll be exploring what a loft conversion entails, and the different designs you could choose from to maximise your living space and suit your style.

What is a loft conversion?

Many households use their loft space as storage, somewhere to stash away the artificial Christmas tree and clutter. Having your loft space converted helps you make better use of that space, perhaps providing an additional bedroom or extra living room for your growing family. However you choose to use your new room, it can add significant value to your home and maximise your usable space.

The type of loft conversion you decide on very much comes down to personal preference and aesthetics, but loft conversions can really add to the kerb appeal of your home. Depending on the age and style of your property, some conversions will be better suited than others. We’re going to talk you through the most common types of attic conversion, to help you make an informed decision.

Dormer and L-shaped dormer conversions

Dormer loft conversions are perhaps the most common type of loft conversion you’ll see. Their popularity is predominantly down to the fact that they’re simple to do, creating an extension to your existing roof. Another advantage is that most dormer conversions don’t require planning permission, so you can get the extension you need without the headache of all that paperwork.

A dormer extends vertically from the plane of a sloping roof, creating additional headroom and floor space. Because they terminate in a vertical surface, you can often fit much larger windows in order to let in natural light and take advantage of the views, often transforming your attic into the largest and brightest room in the house.

The most cost-effective dormers will have a flat roof, although you can have gable fronted ‘dog house’ style dormers with a sloped roof. L-shaped dormers are a little more complicated. These are created when two dormers are connected in a corner, with a larger dormer built into the main roof and a smaller dormer built onto an existing rear extension. While they might be a little more expensive and require a little more work, L-shaped dormers can really open up your attic space and add real value to your home.

Mansard and L-shaped mansard conversions

Mansard loft conversions often involve more work than other forms of attic conversion, but can result in much greater living space. The mansard takes its name from 17th century French architect Francois Mansart, and they involve extending the entire plane of a property’s roof. With a mansard conversion, the sloping roof is changed to form an almost vertical side of at least 72 degrees, with a flat roof and large windows which are usually installed as dormers.

Mansard conversions are typically found at the back of a property, and almost always require planning permission because they involve changing the roof structure and shape. They’re more commonly seen in cities and urban areas, where space is of a premium, although they can be adapted to suit any type of property. The need for planning permission shouldn’t necessarily put you off. Planning regulations have been relaxed significantly in recent years, and our expert team will be able to advise you on whether or not you need planning permission when we quote you for the work.

L-shaped mansards follow a similar pattern to L-shaped dormers, connecting two new conversions on the main roof and a roof extension. While mansards are more expensive and involve much lengthier construction periods, they really do create the largest possible floor space and maximum headroom.

VELUX loft conversions

VELUX specialise in centre pivot windows, and are a cost effective way to let more light into your attic space. VELUX loft conversions don’t add extra headroom or an extension of floor space, and simply involve fitting VELUX manufactured windows flush with your existing roof. Because they’re making no structural change to the roof and very little aesthetic difference, it’s highly unlikely that you’d need planning permission to have a VELUX loft conversion.

VELUX manufacture all sorts of central pivot windows, so you have plenty of options if this is your preferred choice of conversion. Your attic can still be made into a usable space, with plenty of natural light. In addition to pitched roof windows, there are also top hung windows which can help you make the most of the view.

If you’re turning your loft into an extra bathroom, there are obscure-glazed windows to ensure privacy. Urban and suburban properties can also benefit from insulated noise-reduction VELUX windows, and there are even VELUX Integra windows which can be opened and closed at the click of a button. The choices are almost endless, but we can offer further advice and guidance to see you get the perfect loft windows for you.

Hip-to-gable and L-shaped hip-to-gable

Most properties have a standard ‘hipped’ roof with a sloping side, meaning that loft space is limited. This can make it hard to extend unless you opt for a hip-to-gable conversion. This type of loft conversion extends your property’s sloping roof outwards, ultimately replacing the slope with a vertical wall known as the gable. This ends up the same height as your ridge, filling in the space in between which you can then use however you like.

If your home has two sloping sides and you replace them both with vertical walls, you create a double hip-to-gable for even more floor space, and these are ideal for large detached properties. Fortunately the regulations around hip-to-gable conversions were relaxed more than a decade ago, so in the majority of cases you won’t need planning permission for this type of conversion. It’s always worth checking with your local planning department and seeking our advice before you give the green light, just to be on the safe side.

L-shaped hip-to-gables again join a main roof to an extension roof to create that L shape. All forms of hip-to-gable conversions can be made to fit any type of property, whether you live in a bungalow, semi or terraced property. We’ll be able to assess your roof and let you know how much it would cost to take on this sort of extension, but the extra living space will add considerable value to your home and give you extra room if you choose to stay put.

Things to consider

Before you choose to extend your loft, there are a few things you need to consider. Firstly, it’s important to remember that not all attics are suitable for conversion, but we’ll be able to assess your roof and let you know whether the work can be done and which types of extensions would be best. The height and pitch of your roof will need to be taken into account, as will the location of your water tank. If a water tank has to be removed, there’s the additional cost of installing a closed plumbing system for your property.

We’ll also need to assess the structure of your roof, taking into account whether it is traditional or a more recent truss section structure. These are just the practicalities which we can handle, and once you know what sort of extension you could have, you’re left to the fun part of designing your ideal space!

Why choose a conversion?

The obvious answer is that it gives you an extra room or two, ideal if you’re craving additional floor space but don’t want to move. Even if you’re not planning on putting your house on the market in the near future, <a href=””>a study carried out by Nationwide in 2018</a> found that a loft conversion with a double bedroom and en suite could add 21% on to the value of your home. That’s a significant amount for the work required!

The cost of an extension will vary from project to project, but we always aim to keep costs low and pass on any savings to you. We hope this guide has shed a little light on the types of extensions you could consider, and we’re always happy to pop round for a free quotation or to offer advice on converting your attic space.

The expert team at Ash have many years of experience in the field of loft conversions, and we guarantee you the highest level of service and the best new loft space imaginable. For more information or to book a visit for your free quotation, please get in touch today!