Is space at a premium? If you've outgrown your home, but the cost of moving brings you out in a cold sweat, look up - the answer may be right above you!
With a little creativity and clever design, your loft could be transformed from a dark, empty void full of life's bits and pieces, into a light, airy living space that will enhance your home.
“A good loft conversion can add up to 20% to the value of your property, but to reap the rewards, you've got to be prepared to invest both time and money.”
Planning and preparation
Your first consideration should be suitability. Will the construction of your roof lend itself to the work you want to do and what type of conversion will be appropriate?
Do you need planning permission? This can depend on the answer to the first question, but may also consider factors such as whether your home is listed or is in a conservation area.
Also, don't forget Building Control. You will almost certainly require their approval for your project. Contact your local Building Control department for more information.
No matter what type of property you have, there's no substitute for expert advice, so consult a reputable local builder before taking the plunge. They should be able to give you a rough estimate of costs, including labour, materials and other essentials such as scaffolding and equipment for working at height, as well as gaining the necessary approvals.
Fire safety first
When adding interior doors to your loft conversion you must use fire doors to comply with fire regulations. The Building regulations stipulate that a safe corridor from the loft to the outside of the building is created, so a fire door is essential for protecting an escape route. This includes doors on other rooms that form part of the escape route.
Always make sure your fire doors and fire doorsets are accredited by the British Woodworking Federation BWF-Certifire scheme, which ensures they’re of the highest safety standard.
Fire door specifications cover a range of fire ratings that indicate how long the product can resist heat and flames. Under the BWF-Certifire scheme, all doors must be protected by intumescent strips between the side and top of the frame. We recommend using 30 minute fire doors, linings and intumescent assemblies. Higher performing 60 minute fire doors are also available. Our fire resisting doors come in styles to suit almost any loft conversion and can include a choice of glazing apertures if required.
If new doors are needed in other rooms, you may have to replace the frame, as fire doors are normally thicker than standard fittings. To reduce the cost and complexity of this job, we offer pre-assembled fire doorsets that comprise an FD30 fire door and an intumescent strip fitted to the frame. We have also created a range of 35mm fire doors (normally 44mm) that fit into existing frames.
If you have a large home with a loft conversion more than 50 square metres, or more than two rooms used for living space, check with your local building control officer, as there may be other fire safety regulations with which you must comply.