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The beginner’s guide to loft conversions

Posted by NK Lofts Team on 23/06/2017

loft conversion space

Find out what to expect from an exciting new home improvement project with our beginner’s guide to loft conversions. At a glance, work out how suitable your loft is for conversion and what method of conversion is required to turn your unused attic space into your new favourite room in the house.

Head Height

Measure from the ridge timber on the loft floor to the ceiling joists. This measurement must be 2.2 metres or more in the centre of the floor to meet building regulations.

Roof Pitch

If the roof has a steep pitch, it’s likely to have adequate head height in the centre of the room. However, to make more usable floor space, a dormer conversion may be necessary. This makes the loft a more practical space and luxury extras are easier to spec, such as a fantastic en suite bathroom.

dormer loft conversion

Roof Structure

Most homes built before 1960 use a framed type of roof structure or a truss section roof. This kind of roof has more structural importance to the building and is easier to open up and convert into a new room. For a relatively inexpensive sum, the rafters and supporting timbers are strengthened with the guidance of a structural engineer, then the loft is converted to whatever specification you desire.

After 1960 most houses were built with factory assembled roof trusses so that an entire roof could be installed within a day. This was made possible by thinner timbers that were used in the truss construction and this meant the assembly to be craned into place. Unfortunately, this kind of roof is weaker than traditional framed types and therefore less load bearing structures exist to support the roof.

To remedy this, when converting the loft space, more structural engineering is required to ensure that the new loft conversion is safe to inhabit. It is crucial that experts perform these structural tasks as steel beams must be fitted between load-bearing walls to support the new floor joists. The skill and knowledge needed to get this job right only comes with years of experience and the correct qualifications. The scope for DIY is limited here, but you are guaranteed a conversion that is safe to inhabit.

velux loft conversion


Room in Roof

Basic ‘room in roof’ conversions are the simplest form of loft conversion and for all in, you can expect:

  • Electrics, lighting and heating
  • Fire safety measures (smoke alarms and fire door)
  • Floor reinforcements
  • Insulation
  • Skylights
  • Staircase


Dormer Extension

To add more head height, the least invasive option is to use dormer windows. Doing so gives you more usable floor space and provides more options as to where to place the staircase. For large dormer extensions, you can also consider the benefits of en suite living.

Raising the Roof

This is the most expensive option as it’s necessary to remove and rebuild the roof. It’s also harder to acquire planning permission because the property silhoutte will be changed. An additional cost to consider is the architectural design work. Overall, the conversions will be a considerable investment but you will be getting a loft conversion with the maximum potential for living space and en suite extras.

For more information about garage conversions, building regulations and energy efficient loft conversions – be sure to check out our previous blog posts.

NK Lofts are proud to construct high quality loft conversions that leave clients thrilled with their new space. If you would like an extra bedroom, games room, or attic office, we are the premier house conversion company in Northampton, Milton Keynes, St Albans and the surrounding areas. Our conversions are quicker and have far less hassle than home extensions and often require fewer planning permissions. For more information or to arrange a free site survey and quote, contact our team today to make a start on your dream loft conversion.