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Guide

Whether you’re looking for more space to avoid moving or you simply must have that home cinema, office or bat cave, you’ve decided you need a loft conversion. But from planning permission to design, it’s easy to get lost, and with words such as nosings, kite winders and thermal resistance being thrown about, it can all seem a bit daunting.

When thinking about adding a loft extension, you do need to bear in mind the basic structure of your house and whether any walls or even the foundations may need strengthening to support the new addition, particularly where current load bearing walls have any openings.

When choosing the type of loft conversion you want, you’ll have to think about your budget, what type of roof you have and what you want to use the new loft for. Internal conversions are the cheapest and don’t involve any building work, dormer conversions are the most common because they add quite a lot of space…

You do need to think about where to put a permanent staircase for your new loft as its position can affect the whole layout. Ideally, the new staircase should continue from the existing stair case as it saves space. You will also have to plan for the position of the top of the staircase when it reaches the loft.

As part of your new build, you will want to have light and air coming into your loft, and if you fit the right A or B rated windows, you could also find your energy bills are lower. There are regulations on the size of your windows, but your contractor will be able to advise you on this and the type that you’ll need.

Drainage is an important consideration when adding a loft conversion. If the roof is much larger than it was, there will be more surface water to drain away. A larger roof will also need longer guttering and drain pipes and, if you are fitting a new bathroom in the loft, you will need to have drainage arranged for that.

When adding an extra storey to your house, fire safety is absolutely vital, from doors which give more time to escape to the early warning from smoke alarms, everything that can be done must be fitted to the safety standards required.

If your roof is being replaced during your loft conversion, it’s a good time to add some insulation, and even if the whole roof isn’t being replaced, insulation is still required. There is a minimum standard that’s acceptable by the Building Regulations, but if you want to reduce your heating bills, choose good standard or best standard insulation instead.

Sound can travel between the new loft conversion and the rest of the house, and if you have a semi-detached or terraced house, it can also travel through your neighbours’ walls without soundproofing. If your loft is going to be used for music lessons or DIY, for example, your neighbours will thank you…

Before a loft conversion, most people’s roof space would be what’s known as a ‘cold roof’, well ventilated to have maximum air flow to stop timber rot and mould growth from damp, with insulation along the ceiling joists. Having a loft conversion will necessitate moving the insulation from the ceiling joists to between the rafters…