A DIY Guide To Converting Your Loft

by Sarah Ruhlman
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Thinking of converting your loft? Transforming this unused space into an extra room can have lots of benefits, from providing an extra space for guests to adding value to your home. Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can transform your loft.

Converting your loft space

Hire a building inspector to do some checks

Before you start, it’s important to make sure that your loft conversion is safe and legal. A building inspector will be able to run through the requirements and suggest any extra measures that may be necessary. Some of the questions they’ll consider include:

  • Can your home take the added weight of a loft conversion?
  • Is there enough head space? (if not, you may have to raise the roof)
  • What safety features will need to be included?

You may need to get planning permission from your local planning department if raising the rood or building an exterior staircase is required. In terraced homes, it may also be necessary to check with the neighbours.

Add adequate flooring and boarding

If your loft doesn’t already have adequate flooring or boarding on the walls, this will need to be the first job. This can be quite a big job, but it is a job you can do yourself if you’re DIY-savvy.

This video offers tips on how to board out a loft. It’s worth finding a building supplier who can sell you made-to-measure boards rather than cutting your own boards on site.

Add insulation

Loft spaces can get very cold in winter, so you’ll likely want to add some form of insulation if your loft isn’t already insulated. Some lofts may already have insulation on the floor – this is not adequate enough if you’re going to be converting your loft into a living space. Also, you’ll need to add extra insulation to the rafters and ceiling above.

You can do this using insulation boards or by using spray-on foam. This typically isn’t a DIY job due to the dangers involved. If you are attempting it yourself, you’ll want to make sure that you have all the right safety equipment. You can find more information on insulating a loft here at NYTimes.com.

Add a staircase

A staircase is a necessary safety requirement if you’re going to be converting your loft space into a bedroom. This could be an interior staircase or an exterior staircase.

If it’s an interior staircase, you may have to sacrifice part of another room below. If it’s an exterior staircase, you’ll likely need to look into planning permission.

Adding staircases can be complicated work. This guide offers a few tips on building staircases for those that want to attempt it themselves. Alternatively, you may prefer to simply hire out contractors.

Add windows for natural light

Lofts can often be dark and gloomy due to little or no windows. Consider adding some windows to your loft to help bring in more light.

If your loft space has a slanted roof, you could consider adding a dormer window. Alternatively, you could consider adding in skylights. Alternatively, you may be able to add small awning windows into the walls. You can shop for window designs at a site like windowwire.com. It’s worth considering double glazed or insulated windows to help reduce heat loss.

Installing a window is a job that is best carried out by professionals. It can require a lot of precision and you need to understand the structural integrity of the building.

Install any electrics/plumbing

Finally, you may want to consider adding in electrics and plumbing. 

You’ll likely want to add some electrical lighting to brighten up the space. Wiring in a few electrical sockets could also be handy for allowing you to plug in devices. It is best to hire a professional electrician to carry out this work.

As for plumbing, this may only be necessary if you plan to install an en suite bathroom. This is best carried out by a plumber as it could be quite complicated.

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