Feasibility of a loft conversion

A loft conversion is one of the least intrusive and cost effective ways of extending your living space. Before you go ahead and start planning, check how easy it will be to extend into your loft space.


Measure the highest point of the roof

One of the first steps is to measure the apex of the roof space. For a comfortable living space, you need at least 2.2 metres at the highest point, which is normally the centre.

If you don’t have the height, you can still have a loft conversion by either lowering the floor of the loft or raising the roof. These options are far more costly so ensure you take this into account when pulling your budget together.


Measure the headroom from your new staircase

You should ensure that there will be room to build the staircase and that there is at least 2 metres of headroom over the stairs, to comply with building regulations. This can be relaxed to 1.8 metres at the edge of the stairway to allow for a sloping roof but you must have 2 metres at the centre.

Consider the impact a new loft staircase will have on the rest of the property. There is very little point losing a bedroom on the first floor to gain a bedroom within the loft as you end up with the same number of rooms. 

An architect or loft designer will be able to guide you if it’s not obvious where the best place is for your new staircase.


Check out the roof pitch and span

Although the pitch and span won’t impact whether you can have a loft conversion, they will have an impact on how spacious your loft conversion will feel and what you can do with the space.

A high pitch angle will mean a higher headspace which will allow more floor space for a Dormer or Mansard conversion. 

The wider the roof span, the more floor space will be available.


What is the age of the roof

Most homes built before the 1960s are traditional framed where everything was made and cut to size on the site. This is the easiest kind of roof for a loft conversion as the space can be opened up easily with the rafters strengthened and adding support.

For those built post 1960s, most of the roofs are known as truss sections where the roof was easier to put up and made of lighter material. The truss sections tend to have no load bearing structure therefore when you convert your loft you will need to add in supporting steel beams. This option will cost more and will take more time.


And some other things to consider!

What is your existing plumbing like?

Installing a new plumbing and drainage system can be costly, so try to plan your new loft en-suite where the soil pipe can easily join the existing pipework to the side of your house. This is not always possible and your plumber will be able to create a new system, however it is easier and cheaper if you can connect to the existing system.


Can your boiler cope with the pressure?

Check that your existing boiler will cope with the additional water pressure. If your system works from a header tank, it will need to be placed higher than the taps or shower head to create enough pressure. 

Ideally you would replace a traditional system with an unvented hot water system which relies on the mains pressure rather than header tanks. Just make sure your mains pressure is at least 1 bar of pressure – if there isn’t enough then you can fit a pump to get the pressure required.

For all drainage and plumbing, consult a plumber to make sure you find the best solution!


Published: August 15, 2018

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