Loft Conversion Guide

Is space at a premium?

If you've outgrown your home, but the cost of moving brings you out in a cold sweat, look up - the answer may be right above you!

With a little creativity and clever design, your loft could be transformed from a dark, empty void full of life's bits and pieces, into a light, airy living space that will enhance your home. 

Planning and preparation   

A good loft conversion can add up to *20% to the value of your property, but to reap the rewards, you've got to be prepared to invest both time and money.

Your first consideration should be suitability. Will the construction of your roof lend itself to the work you want to do and what type of conversion will be appropriate?

Do you need planning permission? This can depend on the answer to the first question, but may also take into account factors such as whether your home is listed or is in a conservation area.

Also, don't forget Building Control. You will almost certainly require their approval for your project. Contact your local Building Control department for more information.

No matter what type of property you have, there's no substitute for expert advice, so consult a reputable local builder before taking the plunge. They should be able to give you a rough estimate of costs, including labour, materials and other essentials such as scaffolding and equipment for working at height, as well as gaining the necessary approvals. 

Let there be light

Choosing the right windows is essential to the success of a loft conversion. Where they are positioned, their design, size and style will all impact on the look of your home internally and externally.

We offer a wide range of high end wooden framed windows in various timbers that are suitable for loft conversions. Our variety of hinging and glazing options allow you to tailor our products to suit your needs, providing a classic, quality finish that will complement any property. 

Tread carefully

Current legislation dictates that a permanent staircase to a loft conversion is a requirement for the creation of a habitable room, so no matter the space available - be it on the tight side or with room to spare – it is an essential part of the build.

As with the other suitability checks, there will also be a number of considerations to ensure the staircase is safe and fit for purpose. Consider where your flight of stairs will start on the floor below and the space you will be losing to accommodate it, as well as the headroom you need in the loft where the opening will be created. Likewise, the space available will influence how steep and narrow the steps can be. Building Regulations specify the critical dimensions for a staircase including the correct pitch, to eliminate any trip and fall hazards.

We offer both standard stock flights and made to measure staircases that can cater for tight spaces, yet still adhere to Building Regulations. Where there simply isn't enough room for a conventional staircase, space saver modular stairs are available in the market.

Fire safety

Finally, don't forget all fittings used in a loft conversion must comply with fire regulations. This includes having an escape window at eaves level (see fire escape windows) and fire doors.

All new and existing doors in loft conversions must be fire rated to create a safe corridor from the loft to the outside of the building. This includes doors on other rooms that form part of the escape route.  

Fire door specifications cover a range of fire ratings. Under the BWF-certifire scheme, all doors must be protected by intumescent strips between the side and top of the frame. We recommend using FD30 doors, linings and intumescent assemblies. Higher performing FD60 doors are also available. Our fire resisting doors come in styles to suit almost any loft conversion and can include a choice of glazing apertures if required.

If new doors are needed in other rooms, you may have to replace the frame, as fire doors are normally thicker than standard fittings. To reduce the cost and complexity of this job, we offer pre-assembled fire doorsets that comprise an FD30 fire door and an intumescent strip fitted to the frame. We have also created a range of 35mm thick fire doors (normally 44mm) that fit into existing frames. 

If you have a large home with a loft conversion in excess of 50 square metres, or more than two rooms used for living space, check with your local building control officer, as there may be other fire safety regulations with which you must comply.

*2016 Research carried out by the Nationwide Building Society. 


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