Will you need Building Regulations approval?
Yes, you will. Every loft conversion needs to have Buildings Regulation approval even if planning permission is not required. A surveyor will inspect the work at different stages of construction, issuing you with a certificate when the project is complete, and a final inspection takes place. With semi-detached or terraced homes, your neighbour will need to be notified of your plans if the proposed work falls into Party Wall Act territory.
Do I have a suitable loft?
Things to consider when wishing to convert include sufficient head height, the type of structure and pitch of the roof and whether there are any obstacles like chimney stacks or water tanks. A prior inspection will identify whether your roof has the right conditions and dimensions for conversion.
Building Regulations make no specification as to acceptable ceiling heights for rooms, but stairs have a regulatory 2m requirement. When measuring the loft space for head height, measure from the bottom of the ridge timber to the top of the joist in the ceiling. It should be greater than 2.2m.
Check how much headroom there will be with your architect or designer. Often people have less than they thought as it’s not always clear to see in the plans. The greater the angle of the pitch, the more central head space there is likely to be.
There are two main types – the truss section and the framed. Framed roofs are normally found in older pre-1960s homes where rafter and joists are constructed on site and assembled into the property. This is the easiest type of roof construction for conversion as its strong and easily opened up with strengthening the rafters. Factory produced trusses came after the 1960s and are thinner and cheaper. They get their strength from having diagonal braced timbers attached. As there are no loadbearing structures underneath, a conversion will require adding in extra structural support.
The truss roof can be made stronger by inserting steel beams in between load-bearing walls and a steel beam at the ridge. This will need to be completed by a specialist company. For Loft conversions Bristol, visit http://www.caineslofts.co.uk/
How Much Will It Cost?
The cost of a loft conversion depends greatly on whether the type of roof structure you currently have, the amount of space available and if changes need to be made to the floor below to incorporate stairs. The most basic room will start at approximately £15,000 and would include floor reinforcement, skylights, a staircase, electrical work and lighting and additional insulation. Fire doors and smoke alarms are also mandatory to comply with building regulations.
A Dormer loft extension is another option and includes the above alterations and the installation of dormer windows. These are useful for adding head height and can provide more options for the positioning of the staircase. This will cost more but gives more options, more space and will increase the resale value of your property.