Loft conversion can sometimes be the obvious and cheapest option for adding a room to your home, you already have the space there. In the past we have designed bedrooms, master bedroom with en-suite and dressing room, cinema rooms or children’s play areas. A dormer roof extension will give you more stand able floor area and thus present more options. There are currently no special planning restrictions in Lincoln city, Lincolnshire or surrounding area councils.
The design should be driven by what you and incorporate what you want to gain, what you can achieve and what you are willing to compromise to get the end result. The first thing to consider is the height you need, as once you add floor joists and have insulated the rafters the height soon starts to minimise. We recommend that you have a minimum of 2.4 Meters (8 foot) from the top of the ceiling joist highest point to underside of the rafters. To comply with the latest regulations you will need a 2 meter clearance over the new stair case and a 30 minuet fire protected, smoke sealed route of escape. The new flight of stairs will take room from the ascending floor and need to land in the roof without encroaching too much of the usable floor space. Windows options can be put in the roof using gable ends, velux’s, or by building a dormer.
Rooms with a finish floor height over 4.5 but under 7.5 meters needs a sealed/protected landing top or bottom. If you are putting a bathroom in the roof you also need to think about the waste as it can be difficult to get new pipework through the floor.
Once the practical space is created and stairs have been determined you need to design the room to work as best as possible for your end goal use. Diminishing headroom can be a nice feature, but you need to assess where you want to stand within the space.
If you decide on a dormer there are different styles to consider, the box type dormer will add a lot of usable space but can sometimes look out of place on the roof. Small gable and sled mono pitch roofs will look better with a tiled roof but don’t always give you lot more room inside. If you have a hipped roof you can consider building up a gable as this will give you the maximum height across the full width of the house. There are a lot of glazing options to consider too, apart from the standard velux type, adding depth to the windows can give you a great outlook. Material finishes for dormers are critical, although tempting to try and blend in dormer cheeks/faces with the existing roof the ages and size can make this a mistake, it is often wise to make them different and embrace the contrast. In some circumstances when you don’t have the height, the existing roof can be removed and a new one built to suit the space you required, this way, subject to planning constraints, you can rebuild to suit the space you require.
Loft conversion can be done without the need for planning permission and the permitted development rights (see below). When planning is required the loft conversion will need to fit in with the street, if all the neighbouring houses have the same ridge height you will not be able to raise yours. If the street does not have any dormers to the front, adding them would be considered abnormal. Clear glazing can only be fitted a minimum of 7 meters from the boundary so typically you can only look out the front and rear. We will advise on the likelihood of gaining planning approval, prepare and submit this for you. The typical determination period is around 8 weeks for validation.
A loft conversion for your house is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:
A volume allowance of 40 cubic metres additional roof space for terraced houses.
A volume allowance of 50 cubic metres additional roof space for detached and semi-detached houses.
No extension beyond the plane of the existing roof slope of the principal elevation that fronts the highway
No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof
Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house.
No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
Side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor.
Roof extensions not to be permitted development in designated areas, i.e Greenbelt, areas of outstanding natural beauty, Conservation etc…
Roof extensions, apart from hip to gable ones, to be set back, as far as practicable, at least 20cm from the original eaves.
The roof enlargement cannot overhang the outer face of the wall of the original house.
When changing the roof structure you will always need building regulations or your home insurance will be void. You can do a cheap box out conversion however it will make it very difficult when it comes to selling your property, not to mention unsafe. To adhere to the building regulations you will need the input from an engineer, the new floor and roof will bare weight onto steel which needs calculations. You will need a protected fire route with smoke seals and interlinked detector/alarms on each floor. The stairs must be safe from collision and not steeper than 42 degrees, plus protected from fire. The new floor joist must be the correct size and spacing, determined from the unsupported span, the floor must be fire and sound protected. New rooms will need to be thermally adequate, lit and ventilated. For dormer roof conversions, you will generally require a new ridge beam which again requires the design/calculations from an engineer. We will work through design options with you knowing it can be converted into working building regulations detail drawings.
BUILDING AND BUILDERS
Once you have your detailed drawing approved it is time to get some prices for the build and if required we can recommend you builders we trust. There are specialist loft conversion companies out there, but with detailed drawings most competent builders are more than capable. We advise that any quotation you consider will be written up clearly and well detailed so both you and your builder know exactly what is included in the price or it can lead to disagreements at the end of the project. We have extensive on site knowledge and will always advise where we think areas need exploring or issues may arise during the build. We advise that you use our drawings in line with the quotation and any additional information we don’t provide such as plumbing and electrics is agreed in detail before the first fix goes in. It is a costly exercise changing things once the initial preparations have been built. We offer help throughout for both you and the builder, we will happily come to site if further help is required.