Completing the perfect loft conversion: planning permission and red tape

Before you can start work on your loft conversion, you’ll need to think about the appropriate regulations and whether your plans abide by them. The planning regime is pretty relaxed when it comes to loft conversions, but it’s important to do your homework properly. Most loft conversions don’t need planning permission but you will need to make sure that the project complies with the building regulations. This part of our step-by-step guide will help you through the regulatory process.

When you need planning permission

There are a number of circumstances in which you will need to seek planning permission for your loft conversion. If the area of the extra space exceeds 40 cubic metres for terraced houses or 50 cubic metres for semi-detached houses, you’ll need planning permission. This is also the case if your property is located in a national park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a World Heritage Site or a conservation area.

Planning permission is also required if the materials used in the work are dissimilar in appearance to the rest of the house, if the conversion exceeds the highest part of the roof in height or if it reaches beyond the existing roof slope at the front, if it overhangs the outer face of the original wall, or if there are balconies or raised platforms.

At our first home visit, an Econoloft specialist will advise you if you require planning permission and can look after the process for you.

Building regulations

All loft conversion projects must be compliant with building regulations regardless of whether or not they need planning permission. Turning a loft into a livable space will require a number of alterations. Therefore, the regulations are in place to ensure safety standards are met across a number of areas. They are intended to make sure that the stability of the overall structure is not adversely affected by the work, that access is adequate (particularly in the event of a fire), that the new floor is strong enough to bear the increased weight and that there is sufficient sound insulation.

However, the exact application of the regulations will depend on the specific project at hand. New walls will need to support the roof where other supports have been removed, and new floor joists will probably be needed to bear the additional weight. A fire-resistant door will also be required, and you’ll need to ensure that your chosen staircase provides easy access to and exit from the converted loft space.

Once you are confident you want a loft conversion from Econoloft we will prepare a quote for you.  If you are happy with the figures, our internal draughtsmen will work with our designers to produce your plans to the the highest standard and specifications.  As Econoloft offer a one stop shop, you can be assured that our experts manage your bespoke loft conversion from start to finish.

The work will be inspected at various points by a building control officer, who will issue a completion certificate once it’s done.

Health and safety

Since 2015, homeowners have been charged with responsibility over seeing health and safety on building projects. This includes loft conversions. You should therefore ensure that an adequate health and safety plan is in place before starting work. Make sure you ask your chosen loft conversion specialist about this. Of course, they will have a lot of experience when it comes to health and safety in loft conversion work, so should have no trouble in implementing a robust safety plan.

How a loft conversion could bring your family closer together

In case you don’t already know, May 15th was the UN’s International Day of Families, a global event intended to celebrate the role played by families around the world. This got us thinking – what do loft conversions do to bring families together and strengthen family life? British homes are among the smallest and most cramped in Europe, and families with young children often find themselves struggling for the space they need. So what are the benefits to families of loft conversions?

Giving the kids the space they need…

Having a loft conversion carried out is one great way of giving children more room. Not only could a loft conversion serve as a spacious playroom for young infants, but it could also make a spacious and private bedroom for a teenager. This all helps to ensure that kids have the space they need to be themselves, as well as some privacy when that’s required – whether they just want to be alone or they’re hanging out with friends – as well. The importance of this for their social development shouldn’t be overlooked.

…and giving everyone else more space, too

It’s also worth noting that when kids have enough space to themselves, it means that their belongings don’t clutter up the rest of the home – which makes it a more relaxing place to be for everyone else, too. Family homes can quite easily get crowded and cluttered. This is particularly true for those who have young children and who also spend at least part of their time working from home – it’s so easy to find yourself short of the required space.

Another advantage of having a loft conversion rather than having an extension built on to your home is that it doesn’t force you to compromise. An extension might deprive you of space in your garden, for instance. There’s no need for this with a loft extension, as you’re simply making more use of space that was already there, but underutilised.

No need for upheaval

Many families, upon finding that their home doesn’t provide them with sufficient space, take the decision to move to pastures new. Moving home can of course be a highly stressful experience – there isn’t just the challenge of searching for a new property that’s right for your family, but the whole rigmarole that comes with moving day itself. Then there are the costs to consider. These are substantial, and in fact stamp duty alone can cost thousands.

Loft conversions, on the other hand, can provide your family with valuable space minus the hassle of moving house – which keeps stresses and strains between you all to a minimum. What’s more, loft conversions also add more value to your home than any other home improvement, so they effectively pay for themselves.

Top tips for de-stressing your home

If you’ve got a busy and bustling work and family life to contend with, no doubt there are times when you’ve felt worn down and stressed out. As April is Stress Awareness Month, now seems like a good time to look at what you can do to make your home a less stressful and generally more pleasant place to be. After all, a more spacious and relaxing home environment can do a lot to help you rejuvenate and recharge yourself after a tough day.

Here are our top five tips for de-stressing your home environment.

  1. Think about whether you have the space you need. If you’ve been living in the same place for a few years, you’ll have noticed how easily the home can become cluttered – particularly for those with young families. If there’s a fundamental lack of space in your home, then you should consider addressing it. A loft conversion or extension can provide valuable additional space, thereby giving you more room to unwind.
  2. De-cluttering is key. Of course, it’s easy to let those little chores around the home slide – procrastination is particularly tempting when all you want to do is recharge your batteries. Nevertheless, it is important not to put this sort of thing off. If you’ve got items scattered around your home that aren’t serving any particular purpose, it is worth thinking about either getting rid of them or at least storing them out of the way until you need them again.
  3. Décor is also important. The decoration of your home can have a major effect on its overall vibe, and this in turn can have an effect on your mood. If you’re looking to create a relaxing and mellow atmosphere, it’s best to stick with muted, natural tones. Greens, blues, whites and greys are well suited to the purpose. You should also give plenty of thought to flooring. Soft rugs on hardwood floors are great for creating a relaxing vibe.
  4. Consider lighting. A dark and gloomy room is hardly likely to set you at ease after a challenging day at work. This is why it’s so important to harness natural sunlight where you can. If you’re having a loft conversion carried out, you should give careful consideration to the placement of skylights. Not only will this bring natural light into the converted loft space, but it’ll also provide some impressive views looking up towards the sky. A Juliet balcony could also help to make the space lighter and airier.
  5. Create a dedicated space for quiet relaxation. Sometimes it’s hard to get away from the demands of work and family, and make some much-needed time for yourself. If you’ve got a spare room, it’s a good idea to set it aside as a dedicated space for relaxing in. A converted loft can serve this purpose particularly well, providing a spacious sanctuary where you can read, listen to music or just chill out for a spell.

These are just some of the measures you can take to render your home more relaxing, more welcoming and, well, more homely. We all deserve some respite from the hustle and bustle – and, by taking a few simple steps such as those listed above, you can ensure that your home provides it.

Choosing the right stairs for your loft conversion

When you come to have your loft converted, there’s quite a lot that you need to think about. Obviously budgeting is essential, and above all you need consider just what you use your converted loft space for – because this will have a major bearing on the entire project. But you also need to make sure that you comply with the relevant building and safety regulations, and one aspect of this is ensuring that there is adequate access to and from your loft.

So how should you go about choosing stairs for your loft conversion? This concise guide will provide you with the pointers you need.

How much space is needed?

If you’re installing a traditional flight of stairs, then the Building Regulations state that you need to have at least two metres of headroom. However, there is some leeway here – for a loft conversion, this minimum can be reduced to 1.8m at the edges to accommodate a sloping root and 1.9m at the centre of the stairs. In terms of width, the standard is around 800mm although space-saving stairs may require less. You will also probably need to ensure that there is a landing at either end of the staircase.

Think about how you’ll be using the space

You’ll need to consider how you’re going to use your converted loft before you decide which type of staircase to install. If you’re intending to use it as a child’s bedroom or playroom, you might want to consider installing banisters that take account of this and thereby reduce the risk of accidents. On the other hand, if you’re planning to use the loft conversion as a musical practice space, it might be worth having a door installed at the top of the stairs so as to reduce the amount of sound that escapes. This should help you avoid getting into trouble with the neighbours!

Bespoke or pre-made?

Another question you’ll need to think about is whether you opt for bespoke or pre-made stairs for your loft conversion. Most people go for the former option, and there are a number of advantages to doing so. The main one is that it gives you more control over the overall design, allowing you to specify it according to your practical needs and your aesthetic preferences.

That said, pre-made stairs may well be an option depending on the measurements of your loft conversion. You will have to ensure that the measurements match absolutely so that pre-made stairs can be fitted in to place. While it is a convenient option when those measurements do match up, it’s relatively rare to find pre-made stairs which are an exact fit.

Costing and planning your loft conversion: essential tips

If you’re looking to add more space and value to your home, then a loft conversion is the ideal solution to your needs. Not only do loft conversions make homes that bit more spacious – ideal if you’ve got a young family – but as they make such a great selling point, they’ll also add more value than any other home improvement. But before you press ahead with your loft conversion, you need to make sure it’s properly planned and costed. Here are some key areas to think about.

How much does a loft conversion cost?

The exact cost of your loft conversion will depend on the layout of your property, the size of the loft space and the type of loft conversion you’re choosing to have carried out. You can expect your loft conversion to cost you in excess of £20,000 and perhaps as much as £50,000. This might well sound like a lot of money – and it is – but it’s important to remember that you are highly likely to recoup this investment and more when you consider the value it adds to your house.

Getting light into your loft conversion with sky lights

Working out whether it’s worth it

Given the amount of money your loft conversion will cost you, it is of course very important to think carefully about whether it’s a worthwhile investment. It’s worth looking at the value of other homes in your area which have converted loft spaces in order to find out whether you’re likely to recoup the money you’ve put into the work. Of course, if you want to have your loft converted purely for the additional space it gives you at home, then the value it adds to your home is a less important consideration. However, the Nationwide study referred to earlier found that on average, loft conversions add more than a fifth to house prices.

What about regulations?

One good thing about loft conversion work is that it generally doesn’t require planning permission, as in most cases this work is classed as permitted development. It is worth asking a loft conversion specialist whether this is definitely true in your particular case, though. Your chosen loft conversion firm will give you a clear idea of what you will and won’t be able to do.

You should also be aware that your converted loft must comply with the relevant building regulations – this is a separate matter from planning permission. These include accessibility (including easy escape in the event of fire), electrical safety and insulation. Your loft conversion firm will guide you through this process, so that the project complies with the appropriate regulations right from the outset and you’re thereby spared any unnecessary hassle further along the line.

Converting your loft to storage space

If you’ve got a young family or you’ve just been living in the same home for a few years, then you’ve probably noticed how easily all sorts of junk can pile up. Finding space for it only gets harder and harder over time – even if you have periodic clear-outs, you tend to find that the big pile of bits and pieces never seems to get any smaller. If that’s the case, then perhaps you need to think about creating more space. But how?

More and more homeowners are looking up for a solution to their storage problems – by converting their loft to storage space. This is different to having a full loft conversion, so you’ll need to take different considerations into account. Here are some key points to bear in mind.

What does the work involve?

You might be under the impression that it’s basically a matter of going into your loft, putting a few floorboards down, putting your stuff up there and then forgetting about it. Unfortunately, using your loft space for storage isn’t quite as simple as this. You’ll need to ensure that your loft is fitted out properly for the purpose, because a normal loft can’t really be used to store belongings as it is.

Unconverted loft spaces are often prone to damp and condensation. The first step you need to take, therefore, is to insulate your loft so that anything you store up there doesn’t end up mouldy or damp. The insulation will need to be attached to stud walls and loft boards. You’ll also need to think about ventilation – vents may need to be installed depending on the pitch of the roof. If you change the way you use your loft space without making adequate provision for ventilation, the timbers could start to rot.

If you’re using your loft purely for storage space then decoration costs will be minimal if there are any at all. You won’t need to bother plastering and painting the walls or anything like that – that’s the sort of stuff you’ll need to sort out if you’re undertaking a full loft conversion.

What about the cost?

Converting a loft into storage space is a lot cheaper than carrying out a full loft conversion. However, the flip side of this is that having loft storage space won’t add much in the way of value to your home, whereas a full loft conversion could add tens of thousands. If you’re planning on moving house in the not-too-distant future or you simply need the extra living space, it is well worth considering having a loft conversion carried out – over the long run it should effectively pay for itself, and more.

Getting your home ready for sale

Selling up and moving on to a new home is never entirely plain sailing. For a start, there’s the prospect of leaving the place you’ve made home for however many years you’ve been there, and this can be a bit of a wrench. There’s also the task of finding a new home that has everything you need – sufficient space, the right location and so on. And then there’s the not-insignificant issue of actually finding a buyer for your home and getting the most you can for it.

But before you start the process of selling your home, there’s work that needs to be done. By ensuring that your property looks its very best, you can add thousands of pounds to its value as well as ensuring that it sells quicker. Here are some of the essential tasks you should carry out before attempting to sell your home.

  • Sort out minor repairs. Wear and tear is inevitable over the years, but the more of it there is, the less attractive a proposition your home is likely to seem to would-be buyers. Put together a checklist of minor repairs that need carrying out – go round your home checking for any issues that need to be sorted out, from loose door handles to cracked tiles, and take care of them.
  • Clear away that clutter. The chances are you’ve acquired loads of junk that you don’t really need. It’s a good idea to get rid of this before you start showing prospective buyers around your home, because it makes home storage ideaeverywhere look that bit more cramped as well as untidy. If you’ve got a load of bits and pieces you don’t intend to take with you to your new home, there seems little point in waiting to throw them away.
  • Consider redecorating. If you’ve not added a fresh lick of paint for a few years, then maybe you need to consider doing so before you start trying to sell your home. It’s also better to keep your home’s décor relatively neutral – nothing over-the-top, otherwise that might deter potential buyers. Of course, if they want to go wild then they can do that once they’ve bought the property themselves.
  • Add extra space where possible. The more space you have at home, the more attractive it’s likely to be to prospective buyers. Garage and loft conversions, for example, are widely sought after by house hunters. Research indicates that a loft conversion could add as much as an additional 20 per cent to the value of your home, so you should recoup the costs of the work and plenty more besides.
  • Make sure the exterior looks its best. When you’re hoping to sell your home, you need to remember that the first thing any potential buyers will see is its exterior and surroundings. So it’s up to you to make sure that they look as good as possible. Make sure the lawn is nicely trimmed, the weeds cleared away, peeling paint removed and so on. You’d be surprised at what a difference these fairly modest odd jobs can make.

With property prices hitting new heights in many areas, now is certainly a good time to sell. But if you want to take full advantage of this boom in property prices while it lasts, then carrying out these tasks should help to make your home attract a lot more interest.

Amazing ideas to inspire your loft conversion

Need more space around the home without having to move house? Want to add value? Or does it just feel like the time’s right for a big home improvement project? A loft conversion could be the perfect choice for you. Whatever you choose to do with it, a converted loft space could be just the ticket for revitalising your home.

But before you roll your sleeves up and get stuck in, you need to think carefully about what you want to do with your loft conversion. Having a clear idea of what you’re looking for in advance can help you get the best end results. Here are a few design ideas you might want to consider before you start work on converting your loft.

  • Turn your loft into a handy office or study space. Finding the opportunity to work or study in peace can be difficult when you’ve got a house full of people to contend with. A converted loft, situated above the melee, could be ideal if you’re looking for somewhere to escape to. The calmer and quieter surroundings should help you be more productive and, hopefully, less stressed out.
  • How about an open-plan loft bedroom? By taking a minimalist approach to your loft conversion, you could make it look spacious as well as sophisticated. Think sleek, simple modern furniture and whitewashed walls, along with bare floorboards. This way, you can make even small loft spaces look positively spacious.
  • A rustic spare bedroom could add a touch of class and charm. Wooden beams are always a reliably charismatic feature, especially in a converted loft space. Complement them with stripped-back wooden furniture and muted décor for added allure. The end product should be a timeless and cosy converted loft.
  • Alternatively, you could turn your loft into a fun playroom for the children. Any kid would love to have their very own playroom to lark around in, so why not give your children the playroom of their dreams in your converted loft? Your best bet would be to keep the playroom nice and bright – so you could have a skylight to let in natural light as well as a bold colour scheme.
  • Perhaps you could turn your converted loft into a cool, charismatic and modern dining room. Why cram yourselves in downstairs when you can dine in style by turning your loft into a spacious dining area? If you’re going for that rural rustic vibe, wooden dining furniture could be ideal for rounding off the whole look.

Of course, there are lots of other factors you need to consider before starting work on a loft conversion. You should think about how you’re going to take advantage of natural light, how you’re going to accommodate a flight of stairs, how you’re going to retain privacy, and so on. But these design ideas are just a few suggestions to help you get started. Good luck!

18.03.2016 No Comments

What you need to consider before your loft conversion

Of all the ways to transform your home, a loft conversion is one of the wisest investments you could make. There’s been a real surge in the popularity of loft conversions over the last couple of decades, and it’s not hard to see why – not only do they provide useful additional space, but they can also add thousands of pounds to the value of a property.

But before you get to work, there’s a lot you need to think about. A bit of careful consideration can help you make the most of your loft space. Here are some particularly important points to mull over.

What to Consider 1

  • Think about what you actually want from your loft conversion. What do you intend to use it for? How much are you prepared to spend on the job? Try to formulate a clear vision of how you want your completed loft conversion to look, as this will all help you to end up with a finished product that you’re actually happy with.
  • Familiarise yourself with the relevant building regulations first. Before you start on your loft conversion, you’ll need to obtain planning permission from the local authority. Failure to do so could have unpleasant repercussions further down the line, so make sure you tell your neighbours about your upcoming renovation if you live in a terraced or semi-detached property.
  • Make sure your home can actually accommodate a loft conversion. Your converted loft will add weight to your house, so check that the building can actually support it. If your house needs underpinning, it’ll likely cost you quite a bit more to have the work done. Also, check there’s sufficient head height so you know how much headroom you’re likely to have once the loft conversion is complete.
  • Think about how you’re going to maximise the amount of natural light entering your loft space. Which windows would be best suited to your converted loft? Skylight windows are the most obvious choice, as they’re fairly easy to fit. Alternatively, you could go for dormer windows – but as these need walls and a roof, there’s a bit more work involved. Do some research into which different types of windows are available.
  • Another important issue to consider is access. How are you going to get in to your converted loft space? Finding space for stairs can be tricky, and purpose-built staircases don’t come cheap. You could go for a winding staircase, but carrying bulky items up such narrow spaces is often difficult.

What to Consider 2

Don’t get started on a loft conversion until you’ve considered all of these points. This way, you should have a better idea of how the work will alter your home. Of course, it’s always important to seek expert advice on these matters – so talk to the team at Econoloft to help you get the loft conversion you’ve always dreamed of.

04.03.2016 No Comments

Decluttering your home with minimum hassle

It doesn’t take much for household junk to accumulate over time. And the longer you leave it, the worse the problem is going to become – so it’s up to you to make sure you keep on top of things. Fortunately, decluttering needn’t result in too much drama. Why live your life surrounded by junk when you don’t need to? In fact, you can keep your home spick and span with the points we’ve outlined below.

Get the family involved!

Given the sheer volume of junk generated by the typical family, keeping things in order is certainly easier said than done. Still, by being organised you can make your life a lot more comfortable and a lot less stressful. Make sure you rope in other family members to help you with tidying up – don’t let anyone shirk their duties. They might not appreciate it at first, but they’ll soon come to realise that you’re right. This all helps to inculcate good habits.

Staying organised

Try to avoid procrastinating, too. It might be tempting just to let things slide, but it really is a slippery slope – and before you know it, your home is a bit of a mess again. If needs be, it’s good to organise a rota so that everyone knows what they have to do and when (this is particularly valuable if you’re living in a house share).

Take it one room at a time

There’s nothing quite like a good old clear-out, however long you might put it off for beforehand. But before you pile in, it’s worth thinking about how you’re actually going to go about it. Don’t do it in a haphazard manner – instead, take it one room at a time. Then, once you’re happy that you’ve cleared away everything you need to, you can move on to the next one. Think about what you do and don’t use. By all means hang on to those belongings which have special sentimental value, but those that don’t you can do without.

If you do unearth old belongings you can’t bear to part with, find a big box to put them in and put it up in the loft out of harm’s way. That should at least help you keep everything organised. You’ll find that once you’ve decluttered, you’re left with more space than you had before – so give any newly-uncovered floors, walls and shelves a good sprucing up. You’ll soon see that a little effort goes a long way, leaving your home a fresher and more pleasant place to be.

04.03.2016 No Comments