Converting lofty ambitions for more space into reality

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If your home’s loft is more valuable to you as living space than storage, converting the loft is the obvious thing to do.

A loft conversion will make your home more valuable and sellable and if you can fit a bathroom or shower room up there, as well as a bedroom and built-in storage, you have the perfect master or guest suite.

Loft conversions cost from around £20,000, depending on the amount of work involved, the number of rooms created and the type of roof and conversion.

The cheapest and easiest loft conversions are ones with skylights (eaves conversions), as the line of the roof is unchanged.

However, this isn’t ideal if the loft has limited space and head height. Building out the roof to create more usable space inside is often necessary, which means a more expensive and complicated dormer, mansard or hip-to-gable conversion.

For a loft to be suitable for conversion, the usable part should be at least 2.3m high - the steeper the pitch of the roof, the better it will be for conversion. Standing up in the loft and walking around will give you an idea of how much usable space there is.

If there isn’t enough head height, even by building out the roof, you could lower the ceilings in the rooms below, but this will be expensive and disruptive and isn’t practical if they’re already quite low.

You’ll also need space for a staircase up to the loft on the floor below and if this means losing a bedroom, you may not be much better off by converting the loft.

Spiral staircases can be a good space-saving solution, as can narrow (and straight) ‘space-saver’ staircases, although these aren’t necessarily practical for everyday use and may not comply with building regulations.

You often see houses for sale with ‘loft rooms’, rather than an extra bedroom in the loft and this is usually because the room doesn’t fully comply with building regulations.

It’s a shame to spend all that time, money and effort converting the loft into a habitable room and not reaping the full rewards,.If you have a loft room, it may be possible to get building regulations approval so it can officially be called a bedroom and be safe to use as one. You can do this by, for example, upgrading the staircase or changing the windows and insulation.

Your local council’s building control department will be able to advise you, as they enforce building regulations.