Attic & Loft Conversions

An attic or loft conversion can be a very cost-effective way to gain additional floor space. Unlike an extension there’s no foundations to dig, no concrete to pour, no brick walls to build, and the existing roof structure is (usually) retained. There are a few important points that must be considered:

  • Structural alterations. The “floor joists” in your attic are more likely to be ties. These are the bottom members of the roof trusses, and they stop your roof from doing the splits. They were never designed to cope with loads from furniture and people, but usually new floor joists can be laid alongside. Beams may have to be added, and/or the walls below made loadbearing. The bracing in each roof truss will often have to be altered to suit the shape of the new room, and the rafters may have to be strengthened.
  • Headroom. A minimum of 2 metres is required over stairs and landings. If there’s enough height then rooflight windows can be installed. If space is at a premium it may be necessary to install one or more dormers, especially if a bathroom is part of the plan. Consideration must also be given to the possible furniture layouts - there may be a large floor area, but is it possible to walk around without having to duck under a sloping ceiling? If there isn’t enough headroom it’s possible to remove the existing roof completely and replace it with a higher roof or a steeper pitch.
  • Stairs. An opening must be formed through the attic floor. The stair location is often dictated by the layout of the floor below, but how does that impact on each storey?
  • Depending on the height of the attic storey, you may have to install fire doors to every room that opens onto the hall and landing on every floor.
  • Insulation. The new attic room(s) must be insulated, possibly with a ventilated gap above the insulation. Take the thickness of this into account when calculating the available headroom, especially below sloping ceilings.
Garage conversions

This is a great way to add another room. Conversions are relatively cheap compared to extensions as most of the structure is already there and it’s simply a case of insulating the roof, floor, and external walls. It’s a straightforward process:

  • Ideally the floor level is raised to match the ground floor level in the house. This may require the lintel over the garage door to be raised as well, or the windows will be at shoulder height.
  • Build a wall over the full width of the garage door, up to window sill height.
  • You may have to form a new internal door opening into the new room, but this isn’t done until the conversion is wind and watertight.
  • Depending on the area of your driveway, you may have to find another parking space within your site boundary.
  • Many garages have never seen a car, and are used for storage, bikes, ladders and tools. All that stuff has to go somewhere, so you might want to budget for a new garden shed as well.