Some sound advice...
Converting your loft into a habitable space is a big decision, initially cost is the biggest thought on anyone's mind and rightly so, the beauty of converting the space already contained within your home is that it is less expensive than building out, won't take up any precious garden area, and makes use of the dead space in your home.
The use of modern insulations also mean that not only do you get cosy new rooms in the loft space but the heat that's normally lost through the loft and roof is re directed back into your home.
Couple these advantages with the financial sense that converting your loft space makes, and its difficult to see a reason not to go ahead.
The initial investment in your new conversion will be covered and then some with the increase in equity your home will enjoy due to the extra square footage of habitable space.
Ok! i'd like to convert my loft but what should I do to start the process and more importantly can my loft be converted?
To begin with we always make several suggestions to would be clients before we visit you at home.
Firstly, do you have the required head height?
If you have a minimum of 2.4 metres between the top of your current joists and the underside of the rafters at the apex of your roof then the chances are that you have the height to convert.
The minimum finished floor to finished ceiling height is 2.0m so an initial height of 2.4m allows for the required build up to your joists and to the underside of the rafters to allow for the minimum height. This height also has to be maintained the entire way down the new staircase.
Next, is there any other properties in your area that have been converted?
Each council, whether Fife, Edinburgh, East or West Lothian all have an internet based planning portal, the portal also has a simple search function.
Enter either your postcode, or the address of a conversion you would like to see and any properties converted with permission and warrants will be available to view, with all associated drawings and documents available to download and print out.
By using these drawings it gives you a good idea of what's possible in your own conversion, and as well as providing a little inspiration, when it comes to appointing an architect to guide you through the planning stages, you will have a better understanding of what you'd like to achieve and how to do so.
The planning process is the most difficult part of any building project, and can take anywhere from three months to a year to complete before building warrants are issued and work can actually begin, as such we are always available during the process should any questions arise or should a client like us to be a second set of eyes before any drawings are proofed for submission.
Initially the architect will produce a set of drawings to submit to the council, once approved a structural engineer then also produces both a set of drawings and a structural report. The drawings and report are then coupled with the architectural drawings and the final specifications which contains the U value calculations, type and sizes of insulation, number of roof vents, smoke detection systems and several other key factors.
The whole pack is then submitted for building warrants, upon approval a stamped set of drawings is returned to the architect who then prints out a copy for the client, and a copy for us, to enable final costing's and allow us to prepare the full and final quote for the proposed alterations.
Whilst we are always available for advice and are more than happy to help in anyway we can, without the building warrant approved drawings we can't give a proper quote, though on the understanding that its not in writing and in no way completely accurate we can under certain circumstances offer a good idea of costs.
Were often asked if clients need to move out during the construction, and the simple answer is no. As the bulk of the conversion is carried out within the loft space the impact on the day to day running of the home is minimal, we've converted lofts for lots of customers from stay at home mums with toddlers running about, to heavily pregnant women, to clients that work from home. As we only ever have the materials on site that are required for each specific section of the project your home remains exactly that, and not a building site.
And for that added peace of mind we always encourage new clients to speak to past clients and take a look either at a completed project or one that's actually being converted.
So that's it...have a look at your head height. (or send your husband up!) if its 2.4m or more then take a look on the planning portal for other conversions in your area. Once you have a good idea of what you'd like to achieve let us know and we'll guide you through the process. Once you have your warrants* and the full quote no matter what size your conversion is to be we will have it finished in between 5 and 9 weeks.
If you find you don't have the required head height, or you live in a new build home with a W fink truss roof similar to the drawing below, then some of our other options may be more viable.
Whatever type of home you live in, we can help you make the very best use of the space you have available
We look forward to hearing from you, and how hearing how your research has been.
For more information on the planning process visit the links below