Permitted Development Assessment
Most loft conversions do not require planning permission. For instance, if we are not extending outside the roof more than 50m³ for a detached house or 40m³ for any other. This is referred to as Permitted Development. Velux roof lights which do not project further than 150mm (when closed) are permitted. Dormer windows or a gable wall constructed away from the front/ principle elevation is permitted. However, if you live in a conservation area, listed building, national park, flat or maisonette then planning permission will always be required. Our experienced surveyor will advise you if a planning application is necessary.
All loft conversions require Building Regulations approval. We apply for this during the preliminary stages, submitting Architectural drawings and detailed structural calculations for approval. During the works thorough inspections are carried out by a qualified Building Inspector. On completion a certificate is issued stating that all work has been carried out in accordance with current Building Regulations. It is of the utmost importance that your loft conversion complies with Building Regulations and that it is formally approved before the work commences. We will arrange all inspections throughout the project.
Floor Space Assessment
It is important not to have over ambitious floor space targets, for example, a walk in wardrobe and additional bedrooms. Proportionate bedrooms, en-suite bath/ shower rooms and landing areas will be an important factor in designing your loft conversion. A well planned and designed loft conversion will add another floor level of approximately 75% of the lower floor.
Placing the staircase in the correct position is one of the most important details in the design. The new stairs are often installed above the existing staircase, which in our opinion is always the best place. This method connects the two staircases together keeping the stairwells in the same area of the house. Matching handrails/ spindles and a good flow to the stairs will make the conversion look part of the original build, and not just an add on.
In some cases existing floor space from a room next to the new staircase will need to be sacrificed. This can be slightly off putting, however, this is only a last resort solution.
Head Height Assessment
When standing in the loft, if you cannot touch the top of the rafters then this generally means a loft conversion is suitable. If you can easily touch the top of the rafters (approximately 2.2 metres or less) then it might be too small to form a useful functioning bedroom. A dropped landing at the top of the new staircase or lowering the ceilings to the first floor may be necessary to achieve the height required for Building Regulations. If the use is just for a play room or a study then all well & good, but beware, you may embark on a tight loft conversion only to realise that there is nowhere to place the bed. Our surveyor will take exact measurements and will advise you in more detail during your initial free feasibility survey. For more guidance on the types of roof and approximate minimum head height required prior to planning your loft conversion visit our Types of Roof page.
It is better to achieve one or two good sized functional rooms to compensate for the lack of head room in some areas of the conversion rather than trying to cram in the bedroom numbers for the sake of it. By doing this the new rooms can become nothing more than single bedrooms with very little inbuilt amenity value. Adding an en-suite can boost the value of your property and add a luxury feel to your bedroom. We’ve got ideas for getting the best out of your loft conversion, clever storage tricks and decorating tips to maximise the space.
A flat roof dormer to the rear elevation and Velux roof light windows to the front is a very popular design for the exterior. However, we view each property as unique and will design the exterior suited to the property and the needs for the conversion. If the property is particularly long then the flat roof dormer can be split into two or three smaller dormers with no more than 2 metres width to break up its bulk. If the roof is very large then a dormer may not be necessary and Velux windows can be used. However, to maximise the potential and if your budget allows it, we will explore the possibilities of strategically locating a dormer or two. This will often free up an extra 30% floor area that you may not have realised.
Dormers are not the only design solution for more light and space. Consideration should also be given to a hip roof to a gable wall to the side elevation. There are other issues to consider when planning your loft conversion which can be discussed in more detail during the initial feasibility survey. The points listed above are the main ones relative when initially considering a loft conversion.
Once the assessment criteria is detailed then we mainly focus on one primary area Designing Your Loft Conversion.