Loft conversion

Loft conversion: Top tips for designing yours

Converting your loft can be an incredibly exciting project, giving you more functional space to work with. But, as it can also significantly increase the value of your home if done right, it’s worth planning it carefully. Copse Magazine spoke to Jan O’Brien, Business Development Manager at Roof Windows 4 You to find out her top tips for designing your own loft conversion.

If you are looking for extra space, and you’ve already added a Garden Snug, then a good loft conversion can add 10–20% to the value of your home, according to Ideal Home. But, with so much to think about before you can start, it’s only natural for your new project to feel a little overwhelming at times.

Whether you’re struggling with where to start or you need some inspiration for what the space will look like once you’re done, I am here to help. In this article, I will be sharing my top tips for designing your loft conversion.

Assess your loft for conversion suitability

Before you can make any decisions about your loft conversion, you need to assess the current structure of your loft to see what changes you can make and what is realistic for the space. For example, your loft needs to adhere to certain height measurements as documented by The Planning Portal. This is because there needs to be enough headspace for the work to be carried out safely, as well as for the loft itself to be safe for a use other than storage.

If you’ve not got the required height, you may be able to remove sections of the roof to access this extra headspace. But this will require planning permission, which can take months to be filed, processed, and approved, so working well in advance of your planned completion date will be key. Plus, as these applications also add extra costs to your overall project, it can affect your budgeting too — the application itself will cost you, as will getting the local authorities in to check out the space for suitability.

Set a realistic budget

Once you’ve got confirmation that your loft is suitable for conversion, you may have more of an idea of what features you want to incorporate into the space. But, as well as thinking about the tangible assets you can add, you’ll need to consider what is a realistic amount of money for you to spend on this project.

The cost of the project will depend on the size of your loft, as well as the type of conversion you go for. In general, a loft conversion will add £50,000–£60,000 onto the value of your home and, as most cost around £20,000–£40,000, these conversions seem worthwhile if you want to get a good return on investment (Household Quotes).

When setting your budget, look at the average prices for processes like clearing and prepping the space, rewiring, and fitting new insulated flooring and roof windows. I recommend approaching a range of architects or loft conversion companies to find the best quote for each of these things and base your budget off the top three.

Know the difference between loft conversion types

There are six main types of loft conversion to choose from, which will each work for a different function. These are:

  1. Rooflight conversions: These are usually the cheapest option as they only include the installation of windows in the roof as structural work to create a bright space.
  2. Dormer loft conversions: These will increase the amount of roof space and involve having structural work down to alter the sides of the house to create a flat and boxy dormer.
  3. Hip-to-gable conversions: These are most common for semi-detached houses and include removing the sloping part of the roof and adding a vertical wall to form a new gable and open up more space.
  4. Gable-to-gable conversions: These include creating a box extension to span the two gables and in some cases requires you to increase the height of the gable ends to hold this in place.
  5. Mansard loft conversions: These add extra space and involves replacing the roof slopes with steeper sloping sides and a flat box roof over the top.
  6. Modular extension loft conversions: These are possible when your current loft space is unsuitable for conversion within the home. Instead, the new area is manufactured elsewhere and is fitted by removing the roof and installing the new module.

Decide what the space will be used for

A loft conversion can be used for a number of purposes, and this can dictate the way you design it. For example, if you plan to use the space for a home office or a place you can go to practice your writing or crafting hobby, you’ll need plenty of light. This will mean you need to think carefully about where you’re adding your roof windows and how many you want to have to gain the maximum amount of light possible. Alternatively, if you’re going to use it as a spare bedroom for guests, you’ll need to ensure the space is cosy enough for them.  

Converting your loft can involve a lot of preparation but, with so much potential to access extra space and add value to your home, it’s well worth following my top tips to get the most out of your project.

James Cole

James Cole is the Group Editor for Sailfin Magazines and oversees our titles and content creation. He's literally the person who dots our 'i's and crosses our 't's across our Home and Garden Magazine section, our Family and Parenting Magazine, our Life & Wellbeing Magazine, Our Travel and Tourism Magazine, and our Business and Work sections.