Loft conversions

Loft conversions

I love lofts!

Why? Well they are often the most unusually shaped and therefore the most architecturally interesting spaces.
If you haven’t converted your loft already then you should definately do it.
Being right at the top of the house, with the best views over tree tops and uninterrupted sunlight streaming into the space, lofts are wonderful room.
As they are above all of the other spaces in the house I feel they are often the quietest rooms in the house as you have escaped from the world beneath you. Because of this unique atmosphere and the room’s unique shape lofts are very special, intimate spaces.
Converting a loft isn’t quite as simple as it used to be because of party wall agreements and improved building regulations but this shouldn’t put you off doing it.

Here are a few top tips to get right when converting your loft.

Planning permission

1. Make sure you get full planning permission or permitted development rights to convert your loft space.


2. You will need to appoint a structural engineer to redesign the structure in the loft. Building Control will need the engineers calculations in order to be able to approve your scheme. You also want piece of mind that your new roof is not going to fall down!


3. If you are building into the side ‘party walls’ of your house (the walls jointly owned by you and your neighbour) then you will need a Party Wall Agreement with your neighbours before you can start work.


4. When designing your loft try to install a good sized dormer window, or even better, a Romeo and Juliet balcony, to the rear of the roof which will give you increased headroom within the space and better views out.


5. Try and install skylights where possible. Top light is the strongest light and skylights will give you amazing views up to the sky. Select a skylight with integrated blinds so you can block out the light when necessary if you use your loft conversion as a bedroom and I always specify skylights that can be electrically opened and closed with a remote control. It saves standing on chairs and ladders everytime!


6. The position of the new staircase is THE most important design decision you have to make when doing a loft conversion. It will affect the entire layout of your upper floor as well as the layout of the loft space itself. Get it wrong and both levels will be a design disaster. Get it right and the architecture will sing!


7. Insulate your loft way above the necessary requirements of the building regs. So much heat is lost through your roof and insulation is relatively cheap when you think about how much money you will save on your heating bills.


8. Make sure you provide lots of access to the available eaves storage (this is the triangular area of space left over as the roof slopes down to meet the floor). It’s great space to have for suitcases etc.


9. Always put in underfloor heating in a new loft. It’s the best form of heating and allows you to use valuable wall space for putting furniture against rather than it being wasted on radiators.


10. Get the artificial lighting right in lofts. They can only become beautiful and romantic spaces if the lighting is right at night. Make sure you put all lights on dimmer switches to give you maximum flexibility and have lamps plugged into 5 amp sockets so bed side lamps can be controlled from the main light switches when you walk in

Happy loft converting!

George x

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Showing 12 comments
  • Clare

    Hey George – Loving you and the home show !!!

    We are thinking of doing a loft conversion to make another bedroom along with a rear double storey extention adding space upstairs to the 2 exsisting bedrooms and downstairs to the kitchen – I know its difficult but could you give a rough idea on what the cost would be ?

    Many thanks
    Clare x

  • Alfie

    Great site always watch your TV program. Can you tell me if you are just using the loft for storage how you work out the maximum load it will take as I can’t find this anywhere else and I don’t want the ceiling to fall down. I’m 70 by the way.

  • steve

    hi george

    i’ve just bought a chalet bungalow with a rubbish loft conversion with not a lot of head room. i’m planning on ripping off the whole roof and replacing it with either a mansard roof or raise the brick work then put new roof on but i doubt i’ll get planning to add a storey.
    the problem is the rear garden is about 8 foot higher than the ground floor.
    do you think a upside down would work in a chalet bungalow?? with doors out to decked area linking the kitchen diner to the garden.

    love the sledge hammer bits of the home show

  • Monika

    George, Do juliett balconies require planning permission? (Our “very clever” city planning department seem to think they do)

  • Tom

    Hi Alfie, I would suggest contacting a local structural engineer. They will probably need to visit your property and look at the materials which make up the structure of the loft and be able to provide some guidance on the maximum load. They will also probably be able to advise you on how best to maximise the load bearing capabilities of the loft space, for example spreading the load across multiple joists. If you are able to tell them of what you are expecting to keep in the loft, this may also help them. (Please note, I’m not an architect or engineer, just someone with a keen interest in these areas. This is just what I would do – so I hope it’s helpful.)

  • julie

    how do we know if a loft is convertable, as mine home is only 12 years old and I have been told the struts in the loft make the conversion impossible, that was by a well meaning friend not a professional. also would putting in a staircase take away a bedroom below.

    thank you george

  • Kez

    George, we own a chalet bungalow and have pp to increase the downstairs as well as the size of the upstairs, including head height and dormers. This will give us room upstairs for a master bedroom and 2 smaller childrens rooms. Our problem is how best to fit in a family bathroom and an ensuite. We’ve consulted builders and the guy who did our building plans but seem to have reached a dead end. Is this the type of problem that you can advise on? We’d be interested in paying for this advice! Many thanks.

  • Sarah

    Hi George
    I LOVE the Home show – you manage to do such amazing and different things to peoples houses! A group of friends and i were chatting and think you should come and do a Jersey special and do all of our houses for us! Anyway, the reason i write… we are about to embark on a loft conversion. Currently we have a 2.5 (small nursery) bed house. Our double bedroom has an en suite with shower and we have a house bathroom and downstairs loo too.

    We are looking to chop and change the house upstairs a bit as we will loose space in our bathroom to put in the new stairs, we are going to make our current en suite into the house bathroom (there is space).

    In the loft we will have a double bedroom and en suite. So we cant decide whether to loose our old house bathroom all together and make it a study or to keep it as a smaller shower ensuite to our spare room… any thoughts greatly appreciated! I dont want to have a loo overkill in a little house but cant decide if its just silly to loose the chance of having an ensuite for guests. We could have a small study space in our loft landing.

    I am also expecting our second baby in September so the conversion has a pretty tight timeline so all ideas would be welcome so we can get the show well and truly on the road! (initial plans are with Planning currently)

    Hope to hear from you.

  • Mermaid07

    Has anyone changed their loft/ conversion to a reverse level home – having the lounge etc up in the loft area – if so would love to hear from you.

  • Heather Shepherd

    Regarding point 6 – the previous owners of our house put the staircase right in the middle of the smallest room, so it’s no use to anybody (just turns the smallest room into a two-level room). I’m thinking of moving the staircase into another room, partitioning it off with a stud wall so it can function as a separate room. Do I need to get an architect for this, bearing in mind I don’t know 100% the best way forward? And where do I choose one from? Is RIBA a good place to start?

  • Paul

    Hi George,
    We have really bad condensation in our loft. It’s so bad that water is seeping through onto the ceilings in the bedrooms below. It seems to be much worse in winter. We have tried a number of methods with the help of local builders but it seems we need more specific advice.
    I hope you can help.
    Thanks George.

  • Reply

    My partner and I just need to say that I really have found your website exceptionally good! You have much knowledge and information and facts right here which has helped me finish our university paper!

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