When Does a Loft Become a Habitable Room?

A loft conversion can be a fantastic way to add value to your home, free up additional space, and accommodate a growing family! 

Many homeowners decide to make better use of their loft to:

  • Improve storage capacity.
  • Create an extra bedroom.
  • Build a home office.

Knowing when a loft becomes a habitable room is essential since it makes a difference to the saleable value of your home and any potential planning permission requirements.

What Makes a Loft Conversion a Habitable Room?

One of the key differences between an uninhabitable storage area and a living space is access. 

Lofts normally have a conventional staircase, a compact spiral staircase or a pull-down ladder – a habitable room needs a fixed access point that you can use as you would any other storey in your home.

Any attic conversion without a permanent staircase will normally be treated as a storage space rather than a habitable room.

What Building Regulations Do I Need to Meet to Create a Habitable Attic Space?

You can’t advertise a property as having an extra bedroom, if it hasn’t been converted with building control certification to verify that the standards have been met.

Habitable bedrooms need to be signed off, looking at features such as:

  • Headspace and usable floor space: loft bedrooms must have enough room for movement.
  • Insulation: conversions must be thermally efficient, including the walls, floors and roof.
  • Fire safety: a bedroom in the loft needs to comply with rules about fire escapes, with a route accessible from the attic to the front door.

In essence, your loft conversion must be fit for general household use.

Properties listed for sale as having a potential additional bedroom normally have a converted attic or a loft with insulation and sufficient dimensions to be habitable, but without the building regulations approval to call the space a habitable room.

Does it Matter if My Loft Conversion is Habitable or Not?

If you decide to use the extra storey within your property, it is important to work with an experienced contractor who can advise whether you should go for a partial loft conversion or a full conversion that is building regulations compliant.

Any work that is not fit for habitation or has been constructed without building regulation approval may be considered illegal, making it very hard to sell a property if you choose to move.

Partial loft conversions can be a great idea if you need more room for storage and don’t want to use a room regularly, usually mitigating requirements around:

  • Architectural designs.
  • Planning permission.
  • Structural calculations.
  • Building regulations.

A full conversion is inevitably a bigger project, and you may need different approvals depending on the current size and construction of your loft and how you intend to use the space.

For example, a bedroom in the loft must have at least two metres of headroom along the length of the fire escape route, and materials used need to offer 30 minutes of fire resistance as a minimum.

The door you choose for your attic room must also be fully opening and fire-resistant to pass building regulations inspections and deem the space as habitable.

How Much Value Will a Habitable Attic Bedroom Add to My Home?

Even if you’re not considering selling, it’s important to choose your loft conversion wisely, to ensure it meets your needs and doesn’t fall foul of any building rules.

On average, an extra room in the loft can add around 10-20% to the value of your home and make it more desirable than similar nearby properties, with a bedroom less than yours.

However, as we’ve explored, a converted loft used as a bedroom must comply with regulations, allowing your home to be valued with the appropriate number of bedrooms.

How Does a Partial Loft Conversion Vary From a Full Conversion?

A partial loft conversion means that your contractor builds the skeleton, which could involve laying flooring, wall surfaces and installing a staircase.

This structural work is the basis of the loft, which you can use as-is for storage or proceed with a full conversion to make the space habitable.

Partial conversions cost less, but there are limitations in how you can use the room, so the decision ultimately depends on what you wish to use your attic for.

For further guidance, please let us know a little more about the loft conversion you have in mind, and our experts will get in touch with quotations and advice to help you make an informed decision.

Leave a comment