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Is my house suitable for a loft conversion?

Across the UK, homeowners are constantly looking for more space and loft conversions have become a popular project to gain living space without having to build an extension or move house. But you may be asking “is my house suitable for a loft conversion?”

Across the UK, homeowners are constantly looking for more space and loft conversions have become a popular project to gain living space without having to build outwards and lose other space or move house. But you may be asking ‘is my house suitable for a loft conversion?’

That’s a good question, and one we’ll help you answer in this article. A lot of the time the answer will be yes, but not always. We’ll look at what makes a suitable loft for a conversion, how big lofts need to be to be converted and other factors that affect a loft conversion project.

Is my loft suitable for conversion?

When thinking about carrying out a loft conversion, it’s not surprising that the biggest factor to consider at first is the type of roof you have. The roof of your property dictates the structure of your existing loft space, which will affect if or how you carry out a loft conversion.

  • Traditional roof: If your home was built before 1965 then it’s quite likely that it will have a traditional roof, with the rafters forming an M shape.
  • Modern trussed roof: For properties built after 1965, the modern trussed roof became the most common structure with the rafters forming a W shape.

A traditional roof tends to be easier to convert than a modern trussed roof. The reason for this is because the shape of the frame tends to take up most of the loft space, so a loft conversion would typically involve replacing the whole frame.

That said, it’s not impossible to do a loft conversion if you have a modern trussed roof, it’s just a little more complicated and will cost a bit more. A professional tradesperson will be able to advise you on the best options for your conversion.

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How big does a loft need to be for conversion?

Loft conversions come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s no one size that fits all. Having said that, you will need to consider the space you have and need to create in order to have a suitable living space at the end of the conversion.

Is my loft suitable for conversion?Ceiling height

As a general rule, and to meet Building Regulations, your loft will need to have a ceiling height of at least 2.2 metres from the floor to the highest point (though you’ll probably want more than that to be safe). This is to allow for a finished loft with headroom of at least 1.9m, once new floor structure has been built up and the roof rafters have been lined with thick layers of insulation.

If your existing loft space doesn’t have enough ceiling height, you do still have options – like a roof lift loft conversion. Though you’ll need to check with your local planning office to check that you’re able to extend the property vertically. If you live in a conservation area it’s unlikely you’ll get permission to change or lift the roof.

Floor area

The important thing to remember about floor space for a loft conversion is that the pitch of your roof will mean that not all of your total loft floor space will be usable. As a general rule, the steeper the pitch the better.

To work out the total usable loft space you’ll have after the conversion you’ll need to take the total loft floor area and deduct the following:

  • Area of any floor space where the height from floor to eaves is less than 1.2 metres.
  • Space for the new loft stairwell.
  • Any physical obstacles, such as chimney breasts.

Roof angle

As mentioned, the pitch of your roof has a direct impact on a loft conversion as it directly impacts the space immediately available to you. The higher the angle of the roof, the more loft space you have to play with. A pitch angle of over 30 degrees is often better for loft conversions.

Access and stairs

One of the most important elements of a loft conversion is the staircase. When planning your new loft space, make sure you allow for enough room to accommodate stairway access. To meet Building Regulations, you’ll need to ensure that the stairs have a headroom of at least 1.9 metres, with a maximum pitch of 42 degrees.

Do I need planning permission for a loft conversion?

The criteria for planning permission varies depending on where you live – and can vary between neighbourhoods and for specific buildings. Though not all loft conversions need planning permission, so it’s best to start by speaking with your local planning office to find out what restrictions or permissions would apply to your loft conversion project.

As with most structural projects, listed buildings or properties in conservation areas tend to be subject to much more rigid planning restrictions. And if you live in a terraced or semi-detached property, you’ll need to consider any party walls you share with neighbours in case you need their consent to carry out your loft conversion.

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Are all lofts suitable for conversion?

Although most lofts can be converted in one way or another, not all lofts are suitable for conversion. There are a number of reasons why a loft might not be suitable for a loft conversion, from insufficient space, planning restrictions or neighbours unwilling to provide consent for the work to go ahead.

Are all lofts suitable for conversion?What would make my house not suitable for a loft conversion?

Here’s a list of some of the most common reasons why your property might not be suitable for a loft conversion:

  • The ceiling height is too low and raising the roof isn’t possible.
  • You live in a listed building or conservation area where structural alterations aren’t allowed.
  • Neighbours who you share a party wall with won’t give their consent for the loft conversion.
  • You don’t own the freehold for the loft space.
  • In some cases, the cost of loft conversion is higher than the value it would add to the property.

Can you do a loft conversion in a flat?

Amazingly, a loft conversion in a flat is possible – though it’s not common. To convert a loft space of a flat you’ll need to own the freehold for both your flat and the loft space. You’ll also need to have a party wall agreement signed by your neighbours living below and beside you.

How long does a loft conversion take?

For an average house in the UK, a standard loft conversion will usually take somewhere in the region of 6 – 8 weeks. That timeframe will depend on the size of the loft, the complexity of the conversion and the amount of labour involved to complete the project.

When asking local tradespeople for quotes, make sure you ask for their estimates for time to complete the work. Take a look at our loft conversion planning guide for more information.

How much does a loft conversion cost?

The cost of a loft conversion varies massively, depending on the size, structure and type of property you own. As a rule, you can expect to pay anywhere in the region of £27,500 – £75,000 for a loft conversion.

To find out more about prices, check out our loft conversion cost guide.

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