Having spent most of our time at home over the past year, many of us have found that we could do with a little extra space. Whether you have a growing family or are now permanently working from home, there are many reasons why you may be crying out for a spare room or two. By far, one of the most popular ways to maximise living space is through a loft conversion. Depending on your property type, you are likely to be better suited to one of the types of loft conversions more than the other. Unsure where to start? Not to worry, we have put together a guide on each type you can choose from, along with how to narrow down your options.
A Guide To The Different Types Of Loft Conversions
Opting to convert your loft comes alongside a wealth of excellent benefits, the main being that you do not need to sacrifice any living space to accommodate a conversion. While an extension brings a wealth of opportunities, it does mean that you have to let go of some of your land, which may not always be feasible if you have a small garden. A loft conversion, on the other hand, uses only the loft space you already have with the option to extend to allow for bigger rooms.
With this in mind, if you are considering a loft conversion, then there will be many factors to consider. From the shape of your roof to your budget, you will need to ensure that you choose the right structure type to meet your requirements and permitted development rights. To help you to make this decision, we have put together everything you need to know, including the following:
Our guide will also cover:
We have spent many years working with clients to transform their homes through both our loft conversions and house extensions in Wickford and the surrounding areas. Throughout this time, we have seen many home design trends come and go, but one that has always remained popular is a dormer loft conversion.
A dormer conversion involves extending your space by projecting vertically from the slope on your roof. This creates a box-like structure that allows for straight walls, flat ceilings and higher headroom, making even small lofts into a usable, practical room. As one of the most cost-effective options, a dormer conversion is capable of adding a tremendous amount of living space to your home, with many clients able to accommodate a master bedroom and ensuite. And even better, it is suitable for almost all housing styles in the UK, making it a great option to consider.
Another benefit of a dormer loft conversion is that there are many styles to choose from, allowing you to alter the design to meet your space needs. The most popular options are the following:
Full Rear Dormer
A full rear dormer involves an extension at the back of your property that spans the entire length of the slope. This is ideal if you want to add ample space to your home but are less keen on the idea of the box structure changing the appearance of the front of your home.
Pitched Roof Dormer
The beauty of a pitched roof dormer is its versatility. You can add the roof extension to the front or rear of your property and choose to have one or two structures. They are often the conversion of choice amongst those that live in a conservation area as permitted development does not always cover a full dormer. For more information on altering a home that is based in a conservation area, take a look at Homebuilding & Renovating.
If you have an Edwardian or Victorian style property, then an L-shaped dormer is likely to be the best option. Just as the name suggests, it involves building two dormer structures that join together in an L-shape, allowing you to maximise space. In most cases, this dormer type is able to accommodate two bedrooms, as well as a bathroom.
For those with a hipped roof on either a semi-detached or detached property, a hip to gable conversion is an excellent option. A hipped roof means that the front, back and sides of your roof are all sloped, making the space inside your loft somewhat limited. However, during the conversion, the sloping sides of the roof (the hip), and in some cases also the front, are replaced with a vertical wall (the gable) – hence the name hip to gable extension. As a result, you will significantly increase the amount of space within your loft, creating usable rooms that still take advantage of the sloped ceilings.
On the other hand, if you are hoping to take full advantage of the potential of your loft, it is possible to combine your hip to gable with a dormer conversion. The end product will be a roof that features vertical walls on each end, then an extension at either the front or back.
One of the main benefits of a hip to gable conversion is that it provides a fantastic solution to properties that are typically smaller in size, such as a bungalow or chalet. It is also one of the most aesthetically pleasing options, as if you opt for a hip to gable alone, the new wall will be seamlessly matched to your existing roof, making the conversion look as if it was an original feature.
Ideal if you have a tighter budget, the Velux loft conversion is, by far, the most straightforward loft types in terms of construction. The conversion does not alter the shape of your roof, nor does it extend the space in your loft, offering a more traditional take on a loft conversion. Instead, Velux windows, otherwise known as skylights, are installed onto the roof, opening up the space to create a bright and airy room. The floor will be reinforced to add strength, and the walls insulated and plastered to make the space more comfortable. From here, you will be free to transform your new room into a bedroom, extra living room, home office and much more – the possibilities are endless!
As a Velux conversion does not involve altering the roofline, you will need to have a good amount of headroom inside the loft for the space to be functional. Typically the minimum headroom is 2.2m as there needs to be enough room for the floor to be built up to a safe level. Nevertheless, the idea of keeping the loft as it was originally built does make this conversion type beneficial for those who have stricter permitted development rights. Even if you do have to submit planning permission, as the structure of the home will not be changing, and the only amendments to the appearance will be new windows, you should be able to gain approval and begin your project far sooner.
A mansard loft conversion is slightly more complex than the others, and although it does require a considerable amount of construction work, it offers you a vast amount of functional living space. Named after Francois Mansard, a French architect in the 17th century, the conversion involves a flat roof and a rear wall that slopes at an angle of 72 degrees. It is typically placed at the rear of the home, and although a mansard conversion is suited to most property types, it is most popular amongst those with a terraced house. Due to both the roof shape and structure being altered during the conversion process, it is likely that you will need to gain planning permission.
If you have the budget and longer timeframe to complete a mansard conversion, then you will most definitely reap the rewards. Not only will the appearance of the conversion blend well with even older style properties, but inside you will have more headroom than any other conversion type. The maximised windows installed will allow ample natural light to stream into the space, making it feel just as bright and airy as the ground floor rooms in your home. You could even choose to have a beautiful Juliet balcony integrated into the new roof, creating a fantastic focal point in your new space.
There are many factors to consider when planning a loft conversion, so it is likely that you will have many questions to ask our team before beginning. For more information on what to expect, we have put together answers to the most common questions we are asked:
Do you need planning permission for a loft conversion?
As briefly discussed above, whether you will need planning permission for your loft conversion will be based on the type that you opt for. Your permitted development rights do allow for some changes to the structure, size or shape of your home; however, there will be set guidelines that you cannot exceed. Although it will differ based on your location, such as whether you are in a conservation area, here is what you can expect with regards to planning permission for each conversion type:
- Dormer Loft Conversion – As long as the plans for your dormer conversion fall into the permitted development rights for your property type, you will not need planning permission.
- Hip to Gable Loft Conversion – A typical hip to gable conversion is unlikely to need planning permission, but you may need to apply if you opt for a larger build that changes much of your roof.
- Velux Loft Conversion – Because there will be no changes to the loft structure, planning permission is not usually required for a Velux conversion unless you live in a conservation or heritage area.
- Mansard Loft Conversion – Typically, you will need planning permission for a mansard conversion as it does significantly change the structure of your home.
Regardless of the conversion type you choose or your area, it is always highly recommended to contact your local authority to check their specific planning policies. In some cases, if the previous owners of the property built an extension, for example, then there may be stricter guidelines that you will need to follow. You can find more information on planning permission on HomeOwners Alliance, and if you find that you do need to apply, you can do this online via the Planning Portal.
How long does a loft conversion take?
It can be tricky to give a precise answer on how long a loft conversion takes as this does differ based on the work you are having done. For example, a simple Velux room will take far less time than building a mansard conversion, so it is always worth keeping in mind how long you are willing to have your home under construction. Typically, our conversions take around five weeks to be built, but extra time can be added for more complex projects. When working with our builders in Billericay and the surrounding areas, you will always be given an estimation of the length of your project. Constant communication will also be maintained throughout, so you will be well informed of any changes.
What are the best small loft conversion ideas?
If you have a smaller loft space, then this most definitely doesn’t mean that you cannot have a conversion. In order to convert your loft, it needs to be at least 2.2 metres high, which you can work out by measuring the space between the ceiling boards and the peak of the roof. From here, you must then decide whether you would be happy to stick with a smaller room through a Velux conversion or extend the roof with a dormer. Regardless of the option you choose, you must keep in mind that you will need to accommodate a new staircase, so if you have a small loft, you may need to sacrifice some space on your first floor.
Once your loft has been converted, you can take advantage of the many small loft conversion ideas. Some of the most popular amongst our clients include:
- Home Office
- Extra Bedroom
- Dressing Room
Since establishing many years ago, we have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of clients to transform their homes. To give you inspiration on the possibilities of your project, here are just some of our loft conversion before and after examples:
Maximise Space With A Loft Conversion
Regardless of the loft conversion type you choose, you will always reap a wealth of benefits, making the project a worthwhile investment. From enhancing living space to adding value to your home, loft conversions remain one of the most popular renovations amongst our clients. For more information on any of our services, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team. As specialists in loft and garage conversions, along with house and kitchen extensions in Wickford and the surrounding areas, we will always work with you to bring your vision to life.