If you’re thinking of converting your loft, you’ll already know that it’s not a snap decision, but if it’s of more use to you as living space than storage space (for things you’ve forgotten you had…), then it’s probably the right move.

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Many a loft conversion in Essex, for example, increases the value of the house, especially if there’s a bathroom or shower room as well as some storage space “left over”.

How much will it cost?

On average, loft conversions start at £20,000, but obviously the costs can be more depending on the size of the job, as well as the specifications and conversion type. As you’d imagine, the simplest conversions – putting in skylights without any big structural changes – are the cheapest, but these conversions don’t work for everyone. If your loft space is small, or has a shallow roof with not much head height, you may need to change the roof or add a dormer or two, which racks up the cost. This will, however, increase your liveable space and head room. Speaking of which…

Can you stand up properly?

Your loft needs to be at least 2.3 metres high – or at least the main space under the roof should be this height at minimum. If the roof has a steep pitch, it’s a better candidate for conversion. Get up into the loft and walk around – if you can get about comfortably and without having to duck, it’s probably good to go. Don’t despair if you do feel hemmed in, however, you could either build up the roof, or even lower the ceilings of the rooms below. This is the easier option than rebuilding the roof, but both solutions take time and money and you’ll need to move out for a couple of weeks.

Where do the stairs go?

Obviously you’ll need stairs to get up into your new loft room and this staircase will have to start on the floor below it. Think about how much space you’ll lose – if it’s a couple of feet off a decent-sized bedroom, then it’s OK. However, if you stand to lose half a bedroom and some of the hallway, then you need to rethink.

A spiral staircase could be a good solution, but you may need to check that it complies with building regulations. Narrow, so-called paddle staircases are also a good option, but if you have young children or mobility problems they may not work.

You may have to compromise

If you’ve ever seen a house for sale that sports a “loft room”, this means that the loft has been converted but it doesn’t satisfy building regs. You might think that all the effort and expense has been for nothing – you can’t use it as a bedroom, and it doesn’t count as a habitable room (ie, it doesn’t add value to your house). All isn’t lost, though, as you could modify it a bit so it complies with safety regulations – the windows could be changed, the staircase widened or the insulation improved.

 

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