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A Beginner’s Guide to Planning a Loft Conversion

For a DIY novice, converting an unused loft might sound like a great idea in your head, but you may be put off by the practicalities of such a large project. I know I was.

Knowing where to start is one of the biggest worries that many people have; with so many things to consider it is difficult to know for sure. So, having just been through this whole process myself, I thought I’d put down some of the things I learned in order to help any of the IWW customers who may be in a similar situation. Yes, this isn’t strictly a wallpaper post, but I’m sure we can let that slide today for the benefit of any potential loft converters out there!

It is not a one person job – the sheer size and magnitude of a loft conversion makes it almost impossible to be done by just one person. Agreed, some aesthetic tasks can be done yourself, but chances are you will need to call in help from surveyors, designers, heating specialists and potentially even builders to make sure your conversion goes according to plan.

Always try to get at least three quotes for any job you need to do, and make sure that each one visits your home to fully understand the project.

You might need the right permissions – planning permission is not usually needed but it will be in some cases such as extending the roof, so it is best to be sure before you start any building work. The regulations are there to ensure the structural integrity of your home and the homes around you, and to make sure it is a safe living space. Start by seeing if your conversion will be subject to The Party Wall Act 1996 which means you have to give notice of any work to your neighbours.

Think about why you need it – having a strong idea of how you will use your newly converted loft will make the whole process a lot easier. Do you need an extra bedroom, storage space or even a bathroom? Knowing these things from the moment you start planning will help you to understand the full cost and time of the project, hopefully stopping any surprises along the way.

Think about space limitations – most lofts have angled ceilings, so rooms might not be as big as you think, especially once the walls have been properly insulated, so don’t overestimate your space.

One step at a time – staircases for new loft conversions can cause some real headaches as like most other things in a loft conversion, there’s plenty to think about. Under building regulations you can’t have more than 16 stairs in a straight line, each step must have a rise of 220mm or less and have a minimum depth also of 220mm, and there must be at least a 2m head clearance above the staircase.

A handy tip – you can read an extended list of permissions and regulations on the government’s Loft Conversion Planning Portal.