Loft conversion – Maximising Space With Limited Height

Project Info

  • Construction Date


  • Location

    Hanover, Brighton

The brief

The property owners wanted to maximise the additional living space they could make in the loft by constructing a bedroom, a shower room and a relaxation/work space next to the new bedroom. They also wished to retain the current open-plan layout on the ground floor of the property.
The property is not listed nor in a conservation area. The City Council do not give planning approval for full width (box) dormers so the work had to be done within the Permitted Development rights for the property.

The property

The property is a small two-storey 1900s freehold terraced house with a two-storey rear facing outrigger. Prior to the conversion works it had an open-plan living, dining and kitchen area on the ground floor with two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor.

The solution

To maximise additional living space would require conversion of both the loft over the principal part of the house and the loft roof space over the outrigger.
The brief had a number of design constraints;
o The principle loft did not have sufficient head height for a traditional solution
o The proposals had to be achieved within the Permitted Development (PD) rights for the property
o Converting both the principle loft and the outrigger required detailed design to ensure the works did not exceed the 40 cubic m. PD limit
o The owner wanted maximum light in the relaxing space/office
o The open-plan ground floor raised issues in terms of the requirement for a ‘protected means of escape’ from the new loft rooms.
The solution was to build a full-width rear facing dormer to the principle loft, dropping the rear half of the new floor whilst maintaining a minimum of 2m in the rear dormer area and in the landing and bedroom below. The rear dormer area was to be used as a shower room and dressing area whilst the area at the front under the eaves a sleeping platform. To the rear, the pitched roof was removed from the outrigger and a full depth side facing dormer built. The new floor maintained a minimum 2m in the new relaxation/work space and in the bathroom below. The new stairs enter the loft at the lower level with steps up to the dressing area and sleeping platform. To maximise light into and views from the new room a picture window was located in the rear facing wall.
An enhanced automatic fire protection system and a risk assessment by Independent Inspectors allowed the owners to retain their existing open-plan ground floor.

The result

The owners wanted to ‘push the boundaries of the possible’ and the completed loft conversion has certainly achieved this.
Dropping the ceiling in the rear half of the 1st floor has enabled the loft rooms to work as a space and to comply with Building Regulations. The reduction in the ceiling height on the landing and in the rear bedroom is almost unnoticeable whilst the front bedroom remained untouched.
It is in the loft that the full impact of the design is apparent. The combined bedroom and relaxation/work space runs from the front to back bathed in light. It feels spacious and the new room flows from the stairs through the relaxation/work space and up to the sleeping platform. The picture window with its hidden blinds frames views over the City. Neatly designed cupboards transform un-usable spaces into functional storage areas. The design flair of the owners and the specific solutions to the technical requirements have resulted in a ‘job to be proud of’.