• Rachel Roussell

Loft conversions - design to completion

Are you thinking about having a loft conversion? This article could be your decision-maker.

This is the process of a basic loft conversion from design to completion in a nutshell and only in 55 words.

  • The idea!

  • Check for suitability

  • Create plans

  • Choose a company to do the conversion

  • Sort legal processes

  • Clear the loft

  • Decide on the access to the loft

  • Restructure and build

  • Partition

  • Add windows, doors and stairs

  • Configure the electrics and technology

  • Install insulation and heating

  • Sort plumbing and bathroom installation (if needed)

  • Lighting

  • Decorate

  • Completion!

Now let’s look at things in more detail, the obvious benefits, hurdles and just how you go from the design to completion.

But before we do that, imagine what as an asset a loft conversion could be for you...

  • The guest room - “This is gorgeous and so useful having an extra bedroom for guests and I love the ensuite.”

  • The study - “How great working from home in such a lovely space. Plus you’re away from the noise in the rest of the house.”

  • The kid’s bedroom - “I love it, it’s so cool. Please go away so I can listen to my music, I need my own space mum! Can you knock before you come in next time?”

  • The hobby room - “The French windows let in so much light, that’s ideal for your painting.”

  • The ‘whatever’ room - “You’ve got so much more storage and living space now, I’m so jealous.”

  • The ‘escape from the family’ room - “Peace at last.”

Let’s have a quick look at the potential loft conversion hurdles…

  • Suitability - is your loft area able to have a conversion? Maybe not - hopefully yes

  • Planning permission - are you concerned you won’t get it and hesitant to take on what appears to be a challenging process in some cases? In which case use a loft conversion company that will take all that stress away from you

  • Do you have a wall attached to your neighbour’s property? In which case you will need a PWA (Party Wall Agreement). Your loft conversion company can take that extra stress away from you too

  • Safety - would there be any safety issues when converting your loft especially if it’s a large space that you are going to rent out?

The benefits of a loft conversion are awesome and the potential hurdles can be dealt with by the right people in the right way. Seek advice from experts because the last thing you want to do is waste your well-earned money or your precious time.

A loft conversion can be great for your health and happiness, sometimes all we need is extra space for a more comfortable, relaxed and healthier life.

It could be the best thing you do this year...

The design...

The human mind and technology are wonderful things but so are the traditional pen and paper. Spreadsheets and design software are important but before you invest too much time into being ultra organised, jot down some notes and sketch a design for your loft conversion.

Whilst doing that, answer yourself some questions such as, what is the purpose of the room, what features would be required, for example - an ensuite? What is your budget? Do you have a preference for windows, doors or even a balcony? What hurdles do you think you could face?

Have a go at sketching - don’t worry if your drawing resembles that of your four-year-old, it’s just to get an idea of what you would like. The professionals can do the proper stuff, it’s just good to have a starting block.

If you are struggling to visualise what you would like, there are plenty of ways that you can get ideas. Look at relevant magazines, drive around and take photos of loft conversions that you like, go online and look at websites such as Pinterest and there are of course lots of programs on TV that show home improvements.

You could create a ‘design board’ and put pictures, fabrics and ideas on the board. The final decor is the exciting bit so you can work on those ideas whilst the experts do the conversion. Remember, you can always enrol the help of an interior designer if you don’t like choosing those special touches. Your conversion company should be able to make a recommendation or you can ask friends and family if they know someone in that field.

Next up, talk to the experts…

Find a reputable loft conversion company and ask for a consultation and quote. Try to choose a company that will do everything for you from start to finish, it’s so much easier that way. The project manager will oversee everything, time management and decision making will be so much easier in many ways.

You can work with an architect or your conversion company to draw up some precise drawings taking into consideration your requirements, suitability and possibilities. Once you know what you want, what you are able to have and how you can have it, you need to deal with planning permission if required. Your architect or conversion company will explain to you about this part of the project. There are many factors that can play a part in the planning decision such as size, windows, balconies, doors, stairs, conservation area or materials.

Once you have established what is required structurally then you have the aspects to consider. Such as lighting, electricity, water, waste, technology, insulation and decor.

Be very clear from the start about what you want and keep good communication with the project manager. Never presume and always clarity.

After all that, you should have a good idea of what you want, who you want to do it, how it will happen and the total costs. It’s advisable to keep an eye on the project costs just in case something new needs doing that you hadn’t allowed for in your budget.

Are you tempted? Grab that pen and paper and jot down the considerations that we have listed below. Write any concerns or ideas you may have for each point made. Doing that process will give you a good indication if a loft conversion is for you and if you are able to embark on a conversion project that could change your life for the better. I will give you a few examples in the first five.

  1. The roof to be inspected for suitability by an architect/surveyor or loft conversion company. Notes: Research loft conversion companies and ask friends and family for recommendations.

  2. Plans to be drawn up. Notes: Sketch what we would like done and look on line at different images so we can give a clear idea of what we are looking for.

  3. Does planning permission and a PWA needs to be dealt with? Notes: Do we think the neighbours will have any issues with it - plan coffee to discuss the potential conversion.

  4. Clearing the loft ready for the work to be done. Notes: Empty loft and get rid of anything we don’t really need, put the rest in the garage and shed for now.

  5. Assess what rewiring will be needed. Notes: We want the space as a guest bedroom so we want sockets either side of where the bed will be for bedside lamps. Inset lights, dimmer switch etc...

  6. Water, waste(if required) and electrics are agreed

  7. Scaffolding set up (if required)

  8. Joists adjusted or changed

  9. Floors insulated

  10. Floorboards laid

  11. Rafters reinforced

  12. Dormers installed

  13. Vents fitted

  14. Windows and patio doors fitted

  15. Balcony fitted if required

  16. Any other outside work like drain pipes etc…

  17. Staircase fitted

  18. Roof insulated

  19. Rooflights and other lighting installed

  20. Partition walls erected

  21. Plasterboards

  22. Architrave and skirting

  23. Doors

  24. Access panels

  25. Painting

  26. Tiling

  27. Bathroom fitting

  28. Heating

  29. And finally the decor, the furniture and accessories

By doing that process you will get a clear indication of what it will take from design to completion for your loft conversion.

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Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom - 07800887857 rachel.roussell@gmail.com

Copyright Rachel Roussell 2021