A beginner's guide to loft conversions

Whether you’re dreaming of a master suite, a guest bedroom or a home cinema, a loft conversion is one of the easiest ways to extend and add value to your property.

As well as offering valuable extra living space, loft conversions give one of the best returns on investment you can get when it comes to home improvements.

And because most loft conversions are allowed under permitted development rights, there’s no need to go through the lengthy process of obtaining planning permission. Here’s everything you need to know…

Planning Permission for loft conversions

Loft conversions are classed as permitted development and do not require planning permission, providing they meet the following conditions:

  1. Any new roofing must not exceed an additional 40 cubic metres of space on terraced houses.
  2. Any new roofing must not exceed an additional 50 cubic metres of space on detached and semi-detached houses.
  3. No extension must be made beyond the plane of the existing roof slope.
  4. No extension can be higher than the highest part of the roof.
  5. New roofing materials need to be like-for-like or close to original fittings.
  6. There must be no raised platforms or balconies.
  7. Side-facing windows must be set with obscured glazing and an opening 1.7-metres above the floor.

Is my loft suitable for conversion?

‘Most properties will be suitable for a loft conversion so long as they have a loft that measures 2.3 metres at the highest point. As well as head height, other features that will help you decide whether your loft space is suitable for conversion are the pitch of the roof, the type of structure, and any obstacles, such as water tanks or chimney stacks.

Height

If the initial roof space inspection reveals a maximum head height of less than 2.3 metres, there are two solutions available, both of which will require professional input: You could remove all or part of the roof and rebuild it to the required height and structure; however, this is costly and requires getting planning permission. You’ll also need to protect your house from the weather during the works using a covered scaffold structure.

Alternatively, you could create height by lowering the ceiling of the room below, providing you maintain a height of at least 2.4m. Removing the existing ceilings is a messy job and a plate will need to be bolted to the wall for the new floor joists to hang from. There will also need to be a tie between the new ceiling and roof to prevent the roof spreading.