If your home is what estate agents would proudly declare ‘cosy’, housing occupants feeling like sardines, perhaps you’re weighing up the costs of an extension? But wait! Stop! Before you finish the blueprints, it might be worth considering whether converting your loft could achieve the same effect, but more efficiently and economically. 

That’s not to say that converting your loft doesn’t represent a major undertaking. It certainly involves some detailed consideration of small but important aspects of your currently underutilised space. With this in mind, here are 5 IDEAL considerations before you converting your loft.

THE WINDOWS 

For your conversion, you could opt for one of two different paths outlined by Homebuilding & Renovating: the ‘room in roof’ loft conversion or a ‘dormer’ loft conversion. They are largely distinguished by the latter’s use of dormer windows, whereas the former uses skylights.

Either way, you’ll be utilising natural light – but how exactly you should let that light through can depend on various factors. Keep in mind, for example, that rooflights are more financially viable than dormer windows, but the latter are better for higher-pitched ceilings. Much will depend on the exact shape and capacity of your loft.

THE ROOF’S HEIGHT

It’s not inconceivable that, in its current state, your roof’s height just isn’t enough to accommodate a loft conversion. As a rule of thumb, such a conversion is only suitable where at least 2.2 metres separate the bottom of the ridge timber from the top of the ceiling’s joists. If the head height falls short of this, you could either raise the roof, which would require you to apply for planning permission and legal approval, or lower the ceiling below, which can result in a whole lot of headache and mess. At this stage it’s for you to decide if the effort to free up the loft space is worth it.

THE STAIRS 

Whereas a ladder might suffice for occasional trips to a loft devoted to storage to fetch Christmas decorations, a loft conversion requires something much more permanent; vital for safety and convenience of use. So, if you’re serious about this conversion, you should have stairs fitted when repurposing that space for more regular use.

However, there remains the question of where exactly you should place those stairs. Ideally, the staircase should be replaced in line with the roof ridge in order to best utilise the available height above, though the floor layout below will be another factor in that staircase’s positioning. 

THE INSULATION 

Insulation can pose a bit of a problem in your loft space as you attempt to convert it. Though you will naturally want the insulation beneath the floor boarding to be kept intact, applying standard boarding can actually squash that insulation – if you don’t need to remove it entirely beforehand, that is. The solution here is to instead use raised loft boarding, like the award-winning solutions provided by Instaloft, which will allow this insulation to breathe and so preserve its effectiveness.  

YOUR NEIGHBOUR’S WALL 

Yes, this really is easy to overlook, and often an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ situation. After all, it’s not like you often see this wall, if at all. However, the consumer watchdog site Which? warns that if the conversion work will affect the wall that joins your home and your neighbour’s, you’ll require a Party Wall Agreement. This agreement is meant to put your neighbour’s mind at rest by ensuring that the work will be carried out fairly without risking damage to the other property.

If you’re looking for more of the same, then check out our 5 IDEAL and practical investments to improve the value of your home.

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.