A loft which isn’t yet converted can be a brilliant, untapped source of extra space for your home. Whether you want to add another bedroom or simply create a more welcoming storage area, there is so much potential when it comes to loft conversions.
What to consider when planning a loft conversion
If you’re thinking about a loft conversion then there a few structural issues you need to consider before deciding to go ahead with the project.
Head height – To assess how much head height your loft will offer, measure from the bottom of one of the ridge beams to the top of the ceiling joist. If this is more than 2.2m then you should have a good amount of head height.
Pitch Angle – A greater pitch angle will allow you more headroom in your loft conversion. If your loft does not have a good pitch angle, you may want to think about the addition of dormers to your loft in order to add more usable space – although this could be costly.
Not enough headroom?
If, after measuring your loft you have found that there will not be enough head room, but you still want to go ahead with the project, then you have two options. Both of which will be costly.
- Raise part of or the whole of your roof. However, this would also require planning permission.
- Lower the ceiling of the room below. This is more feasible in older homes which are often blessed with tall ceilings. However, this will take up a lot of money and time.
Are my existing joists suitable?
Chances are, no they aren’t. Most existing ceiling joists will not be able to hold the weight of a conversion floor, which could lead to serious structural problems if not addressed before the conversion. This work, which includes working out the size and grade of the timber joists, should always be carried out by a structural engineer.
Staircases for loft conversions
To make sure that staircases have the best use of head height, they should be positioned underneath the roof ridge in your loft. However, the position of your staircase will largely come down to the floor plan of your loft and the floor below.
Under building regulations, the number of steps a staircase can have in a straight line is 16. Each step must have a maximum rise of 220mm with a minimum depth also of 220mm. Typically, loft conversions will need less than 16 stairs, however you may want to think about space saver staircases to maximise the usable areas on both floors. Staircases should also have balustrading with a minimum height of 900mm above the pitch line; with each spindle close enough so that a 100mm sphere cannot fit between them.