Converting Your Loft – The Basics

Converting your loft is one of the most cost-effective and space efficient improvements you could carry out to your home. You convert space you own and the basic structure is already there.

This is the 1st in a series blogs that share my knowledge and experience with you. Over the weeks I will go through the steps to help you establish; whether you can convert your loft, the potential restrictions and how to maximise the space you can create.

I did my first loft conversion 25 years ago on my own house in Manchester, since then I have designed 100s of lofts conversions for customers.

Rules and Regulations

Whatever you want to do and where ever you live there are rules and regulations governing what you can and can’t do if you want to convert your loft.

Building Regulations

All loft conversions which create new habitable space must be compliant with building regulations. If your home is over 3 storeys fire safety regulations may impose limitations on what you can do with your loft.

Planning Permission

Whether you need planning permission for your proposed loft conversion will depend upon the location, type, and status of your home and the works you wish to carry out.

Some Initial Questions

Can it be physically done?
Are there any restrictions that may limit your wishes?
How much is it going to cost, can you afford it?

Can it be physically done?

If you can answer yes to the following questions you should be able to convert your loft using the existing structure as a starting point.

I have got loft, which I can stand up in
I can stand up and put my hand up above my head below the highest point.
(I am about 1.73 m (5’ 8”) high and I can reach up to about 2.2 m, which is the minimum height required prior to works.)
Have a look outside. Have any neighbours with similar houses got lofts? Look for rooflights on the front roof slope or a dormer to the rear.

If you cannot answer yes to all these questions you may still be able to convert your loft but you will have to alter the structure.

There are no restrictions that may limit my wishes?

If you can answer yes to these questions you should be able to do a loft conversion under Permitted Development rights.
I live in a Freehold house or bungalow
My home is not in a conservation area, an AONB or a National Park
My home is not listed

There are restrictions that may limit my wishes?

If you answer yes to some of these questions you will not be able to convert your loft under Permitted Development rights
I live in a flat or maisonette
My home is in a conservation area, an AONB or a National Park
My home is listed

If you live in a flat or a maisonette you do not have Permitted Development rights and you will need to apply for planning approval to convert your loft.

Local Authority planning controls are stricter in conservation areas, AONB and National Parks. In these areas, a loft conversion will need planning approval.

If your home is listed, Listed Building Consent will always be required from the Local Authority for any works you wish to carry out to the exterior and to the interior of the property.

How much is it going to cost?

Try to find someone on your street (or a similar house in your area) who has had a loft conversion and ask them. There will be an element of guess-work setting your first budget. An initial sum of £30k is a very rough starting point. Increase the sum if it’s a big loft, take a bit off if it is very small.
Remember, any price given by a builder is exclusive of VAT so a quote of £25k will end up costing you £30k.
You will need money to cover the cost of decorating the loft and the new stairs and probably redecorating the landing as well. The loft rooms and stairs will need new floor finishes. If you have central heating you may need to replace your boiler to power the extra radiators required.

For details of my other loft blogs please check out my website:

Please note this is a guide and is not a definitive source of legal information.

1 Comment

  • Warton Woodworks DIY Blog

    Nice article. We carry out loft conversions in Essex, UK. Most customers have no idea how much a loft conversion costs. Your guide provides a good starting point for people thinking about a loft conversion.

    I operate a home renovation DIY Blog called Warton Woodworks. We also offer advice and guides related to loft conversions.

    Warton Woodworks DIY Blog

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