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What is the minimum height for a loft conversion

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What is the minimum height for a loft conversion

Loft conversions never cease to lose their popularity as a cost-effective way to add both value and accommodation to your home. If you cannot extend your home to the rear or the side or have already done so then a loft conversion is an excellent use of redundant space. But are there lofts which cannot be converted? Is there a minimum height for a loft conversion?

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How to check out your loft

There is a minimum height you need for a loft conversion and that is 2.2 metres. The usual clearance once the loft conversion is complete is realistically 2.0 metres but some space will be lost for the insulation and the construction of internal ceilings so the industry standard is 2.2 metres clear headroom to allow for this.

If you are in a terraced row or a street of detached or semi-detached properties which are similar or identical to your house and they have loft conversions then the likelihood is that you too will be able to convert your loft. You can easily measure the loft space yourself using a tape measure. Measure the tallest part of the roof void in the centre. Victorian houses tend to be lower than those built from the 1930s onwards and so they may not have sufficient head height but there are plenty of clever ways to work around this problem. Read more about 1930s loft conversion costs. 

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How to create headroom for a loft conversion

If your current headroom is short of the required height then there are a number of things you can do to solve this issue and still create a loft conversion. These include:-

  • Raising the roof – it is possible to raise the roof ridge to add the extra space required if you are not far short of the requisite headroom. You will need planning permission to do this even if the design of the planned loft conversion doesn’t trigger a requirement for it because this process changes the shape and height of the existing building. Some planning authorities do not allow ridge raising in certain places like conservation areas and it is relatively easy to find out if this is likely to be an option for your home
  • Dormer loft conversions – a dormer loft conversion involves moving part of the existing roof and rebuilding it to create the headroom needed. A dormer loft conversion will not only increase the standing head height but also the usable floor space as well which explains why they are one of the most popular forms of loft conversion even if you do have existing headroom. Because a dormer doesn’t have to affect the ridge line of the roof, it may be possible to keep the conversion within Permitted Development or PD so it could even avoid the requirement for planning permission. However, you will still need to comply with building regulations
  • Mansard loft conversion – this is an extension across the entire plane of the roof and effectively adds a completely new storey. This is a complex structural conversion and one of the most expensive averaging between £40,000 and £50,000 and will require both planning permission and compliance with building regulations
  • Lowering the ceilings – this is an alternative to raising the roofline or fitting a Mansard or a dormer loft conversion which are not always options with listed properties or houses within conservation areas or even if there is a problem or impediment with a neighbouring property. Lowering the ceilings in the room below can add the extra height need to convert the loft space. Older properties often have taller room heights than more modern houses so this is often a viable alternative without compromising the accommodation in the upstairs rooms
  • Using thinner insulation – if the room height is almost sufficient then a cheaper and more practical solution is to use thinner layers of insulation during the construction process. Usual loft insulation is around 25cm think but modern alternatives can shave extra centimetres off and just create that precious extra space to avoid more costly alternatives. Thinner options include multi-foil insulation or foil-backed rigid foam depending on your preference and budget
  • A new roof – this sounds quite dramatic but a new roof can be engineered off-site with the structure all ready for your loft conversion and then lowered into place once the old roof has been stripped off. This option will definitely require planning permission

What happens when you lower the ceilings?

The ceilings in the upstairs rooms are all removed and a plate added at the appropriate level and then the new floor is sited above it and new ceilings fitted below it.

What is a dormer loft conversion?

There are different types of dormer loft conversion and these include:-

  • Flat roof dormer – this is a dormer with a flat roof that sits horizontally to the main roof structure
  • Shed dormer – a flat roof that slopes down
  • Dog House dormer – the dormer has two pitched sides and the whole window appears to have a classic dog kennel shape hence the name
  • L-shaped dormer – similar to a rear dormer but with a right angle where a portion of the loft conversion sits over the top of an existing extension, a common feature with Victorian terraced houses
  • Hipped roof dormer - this is similar to a dog house dormer but with three sides instead of two

If your current loft space is short of the requisite height necessary for a loft conversion then a construction firm or loft conversion company can advise you on the options available to create that added headroom so you can have the loft conversion of your dreams. Figures from mortgage lenders suggest an uplift in the value of your property by as much as 20% even as high as 25% after a loft conversion so the short term pain is well worth it. The options of using this extra space within your home are endless and then when you go to market, you should receive an excellent return on the money spent. Even a low cost Velux loft conversion can significantly increase the value of your house.

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