When you need more space than your home currently offers you, there are a few options available to you.
You can extend the house and add onto the floor space if you have sufficient garden space and can get planning permission. You can convert a garage, depending on its construction, into a room. Or, you could go for one of the more popular options for gaining extra space – converting the loft.
But can a loft be a useful room? And can you convert your loft into a useful room? Let’s take a look at some of the requirements for converting a loft into a useful room.
To start with, you need to have a loft assessment. You can call in a professional to help with this but you can get a good, basic idea yourself.
First thing to consider is the head height in the space – ideally, the highest area of the room should be at least two metres high. This allows most people to walk upright. To use as a bedroom or a living space, you want at least half of the loft to have this kind of height to it.
Also look at the pitch of the roof and take this into account for what you are planning.
For example, a bed can sit under a pitched roof but make sure you have enough space above it to sit up without banging your head. A similar concept applies to placing a sofa or chain under the pitched area.
(Click here to find out when you planning permission for a loft conversion.)
Roof style and access
The other big consideration is the type of roof structure.
For example, framed houses that were made pre-1960s tend to have rafters and ceiling joists that are supported by timber beams and these are very suitable for loft conversions. Some of the newer houses use factory-made trusses that are thinner and may have diagonal timbers to brace them. These make for a quick house to build but may not be suitable for loft conversion without some additional strengthening.
The other big factor is the ability to access the space. Building regulations say that if the room is going to be a bedroom, bathroom, playroom, study or other frequently used space, it has to have a permanent staircase. This staircase doesn’t have to be as wide as the main stairs in the house and can resemble a fixed ladder while spiral staircases are a popular, space saving option.
Windows are crucial for any space other than a storage area as you need light and air into a livable room. The good news is that there are a number of brands that produce roof windows to suit different roof styles and room requirements. Some of these include balcony style arrangements and can even be used as a type of door if you have a flat roof beside the loft space that could be altered into a usable area.
For many homes, converting the loft is an ideal way to gain more space. While there are considerations such as fire regulations and building stipulations to take into account, whether you self-build or hire a builder, these can be worked with to create a useful, habitable space above your home that can be used for a wide variety of purposes.