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Types of loft conversion

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The Different Types of loft conversion

Loft conversions have been a popular route to creating extra accommodation in a house that you do not want to move from and their popularity shows no signs of diminishing. Cheaper overall than a rear or side extension and without the loss of valuable garden and car parking space, some conversions don’t even need planning permission. With an uplift of between 20% and 25%, once the works are complete even on some of the more expensive conversions, this really is a win-win for the homeowner. As a financial investment in the house, the returns are excellent and of course, you are provided with that much needed extra space for as long as you live there.

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What are the different types of loft conversion?

There are lots of different types of loft conversion depending on your budget and the space available in the roof void. These are the most popular types:-

  • Roofline or Velux loft conversion – a simple roofline loft conversion is a straightforward conversion of the existing space with Velux windows or roof lights so no structural changes to the roof. These start at around £15,000 and usually fall within Permitted Development so do not require planning permission. Read more about Velux loft conversion costs.
  • Dormer loft conversion – this is a structure that extends beyond the current roof space with windows which project vertically from the roof slope. From the inside, the dormer commonly has a horizontal ceiling and vertical walls. Dormer loft conversions are very popular as they offer the greatest amount of floor space and headroom. Read more about dormer loft conversion costs.
  • Gable-fronted dormer – the most common type of dormer and is a simple pitched roof with two sloping planes constructed from a frame which rises up to form a triangular section below the roofline. These are sometimes called dog kennel dormers or dog house dormers because of their shape. Gable-fronted dormers work well on cottages and period properties because they are sympathetic to the external appearance of the property
  • Hip roof dormer – with a hipped roof, the roof planes all slope upwards so there are no vertical finishes. These all meet at a point which is called a hip
  • Hip to gable loft conversion – for properties with a hipped roof so houses which have other sloping roof planes in addition to the ones at the front and back. One sloping roof is replaced with a vertical wall called a gable extending the roof void. Read more about hip to gable loft conversion costs
  • Double hip to gable loft conversion – both sloping side roofs are extended hence the name for maximum space. Sometimes a rear dormer is then added at the back creating virtually an entirely new floor
  • Mansard loft conversion – these are usually found at the back of properties and a Mansard has a flat roof with the back wall sloping inwards at an angle of between 70 and 75 degrees. A Mansard loft conversion can offer the maximum space for accommodation and give the highest available headspace with the greatest amount of usable floor area. Read more about mansard loft conversion costs.

From a starting point of around £15,000 for a simple roofline conversion with Velux windows, at the top end for a Mansard loft conversion or a double hip to gable with a dormer conversion at the rear, you would be looking at a total cost of around £50,000 - £60,000.

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What kind of accommodation can a loft conversion provide?

Loft conversions can be whatever you want them to be but here are some of the most popular choices for interior fittings:-

  • A spectacular skyline bedroom with balcony and luxury en-suite
  • An open plan studio or work space for home businesses or home workers
  • A kitchen and living area which can be matched up with an en-suite bedroom on the floor before to create self-contained accommodation for an adult family member or even as a source of income subject to the right consents
  • Children’s bedrooms and a family bathroom
  • A playroom which can alter and change its function as the children grow up
  • Teenage space, a bedroom with en-suite shower room and some chill-out space
  • A media room
  • A home gym

Don’t forget that you may also create space in other rooms in the house, for example, freeing up a lounge as a new study or home office because you now have a rooftop media room. So, there can be a double benefit when it comes to generating space.

The type of final interior you choose has the biggest impact on the overall cost. Kitchens and bathrooms can add a cool £15,000 or £20,000 so unless you have an overriding reason to fit these, stick to more plain accommodation which can still be incredible but at a fraction of the cost.

Which types of loft conversion don’t require planning permission?

Not all loft conversions require planning permission as some will fall within what is termed, Permitted Development, or PD. This allows homeowners to make alterations to their property without having to apply for planning permission. However, if you have a listed house or are in a conservation area then you will probably always need to apply for planning permission regardless of which type of loft conversion you choose. Here are some of the guidelines about loft conversions which won’t require planning permission but you should always double-check with either your architect or your local planning office to be totally sure.

  • The newly created space does not exceed 40 cubic metres for a terraced home and 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached properties.
  • The proposed design does not extend beyond the plane of the existing roof slope at the front of the house
  • The loft conversion does not include verandahs or a balcony
  • The loft conversion structure does not extend at any point higher than the highest part of the existing roofline
  • The conversion as it is visible from the exterior is made using materials which are complementary and sympathetic to the existing house
  • Side facing windows must be obscure and at least 1.7 metres from the ground
  • The extensions to the roof must not overhang the outer wall of the original house
  • The loft conversion must be set back a minimum of 20cm from the eaves unless it is a hip to gable extension

Any loft conversion that falls outside these parameters can still be permitted but you will need the design approved by the planning office so must apply for planning permission.

Do loft conversions have to comply with building regulations?

Loft conversions are subject to current building regulations so you will need to submit your plans and drawings to the office of the local Building Inspector after you have applied for and obtained planning permission. Once the works have been approved by the local planning authority then the Building Inspector will arrange a series of stage visits timetabled before the build begins so he can check the construction as it progresses. The type of thing the Building Inspector will be interested in is whether or not the structure has integrity, the stairs are of a safe design, the conversion is fire safe and the supporting floor has been reinforced to take the weight of another storey. Building regulations apply irrespective of whether or not your loft conversion requires planning permission.

Which is the best type of loft conversion to choose?

This usually depends on your budget, what you are trying to achieve with the accommodation and the shape, size and structure of the existing roof. Certain styles of conversion are ruled out from the outset for certain types of properties; a good architect can help you make the most of your current roof space working with the existing design of your home and the properties which surround it.

If your budget won’t stretch to the conversion that you want then there are ways to lower the cost without totally abandoning the design:-

  • Change the interior fittings especially kitchens and bathrooms as these will make the most difference to the final bill
  • Reduce the number of roofline windows and/or their size
  • If you are having a new bathroom then try and site it above the bathroom on the floor below which will minimise expensive and time-consuming pipework; often sensible design can make a big impact on the final costings
  • Review the materials you are using and use less expensive alternatives

Funding a new loft conversion

There are usually three key routes to loft conversion finance:-

  • Use savings
  • Arrange finance via your roofing contractor –some loft companies link up with third-party financial institutions to provide funding packages for homeowners
  • Go to your mortgage company for a Home Improvement Loan or Further Advance providing you have enough equity in your home to support the loan and can demonstrate that you satisfy their affordability

Finance packages tend to be shorter-term and more expensive but at least they don’t last as long as a Further Advance from your mortgage company which will be a lower monthly payment but usually last for the remaining term of the mortgage.

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