The full process behind a loft conversion is dependent on a number of different factors. For example, if you are not planning to do any major work to the loft in terms of extending the roof-line then you can get away with the hassle of a planning application.
But if your loft conversion is likely to consist of substantial construction work then you will definitely need to apply for planning permission if the work adheres to any of the following:
- Your new loft space is more than 50m³ (40m³ for a terraced home).
- The dormer is higher than the current highest part of the roof.
- The dormer extends the existing roof slope plane on the roof front elevation.
- Your house is listed or in a Conservation area.
- The dormer is within 20cm of the eaves.
- You want to use side-windows that are less than 1.7m above floor level or are not frosted.
NOTE: You should always check with your local planning office for any update to loft conversion regulations.
So for a major loft conversion that is likely to require some major roof work e.g. dormer extension to the loft then the first thing you’ll need to do is check the suitability of a loft conversion through employing either an architect or a surveyor. For example they will need to assess whether the existing structure can bear any additional load and it’s from this initial survey that plans can then be drawn up. Other key points to be considered are the internal height, access to the loft and existing obstacles like water tank etc.
Once the initial survey is complete it is then possible to have detailed plans drawn up to include all the main work to be completed, along with any structural re-enforcements that was identified in the initial survey. These plans can then be used to calculate the cost of the conversion and to establish whether there are any elements that you can carry out yourself, if you want to save money on using a loft conversion company.
Once it’s established that you can carry out a conversion the prior to starting you will need approval from your local building control regulator.
Now it’s time that the main part of the work will ned to be carried out. The following is a list of all the elements to consider, each of which will have their own particular specifications and requirements:
- Electrical wiring: Most lofts will have a lot of wiring running along the floor joists so they will need to be re-routed first. Any additional electrical work should also be carried out at this stage especially if improvements are necessary.
- Pipework: Now is the time to get any new pipework completed or upgrades to existing pipework.
- Floor joists: During the initial survey additional strengthening to the joist may have been recommended.
- Insulation: Once all the above are completed and prior to laying floorboards you should also consider new loft insulation measures.
- Floorboards: Prior to laying the floorboards the Building Control will need to give approval so make sure and complete this step first.
The type of floorboard is very important, especially if your loft is being converted into a bath or shower room. You should lay water-resistant quality boards and although a bit more expensive they are definitely worth it.
- Roof structure: Once the flooring has been completed it’s time to move onto the main roof structure re-enforcements. This will also include any additional insulation work which also needs to be done in a very specific way.
It’s key to get all the roof work right as this work is also subject to Building Control checks prior to the new insulation being covered.
- Partition walls: Standard plasterboard walls can be used but also note that if you plan to hang any radiators or electrical control boxes or switches that you should fit fixing plates between studs.
- Once all the plasterboard walls have been fitted and all electrical and plumbing are finished you can proceed with the plastering.
- Staircase: As part of the initial designs it will have been decided what size the loft staircase should be. Loft staircases have their own specific specification for regulation purposes and should be strictly adhered to.
Doing all the above yourself may seem like a daunting task but if you do the a lot of money can be saved. But make sure that you comply with all the building regulations as you don’t want to undo all the hard work.