How to get the light and airy loft conversion you've always dreamed of

Loft conversions are one of the best ways to create extra space and increase the value of your property.

Young couple in loft conversion

After a year like 2020, it comes as little surprise that homeowners across the UK are using their time and any spare cash to improve their living spaces. 

In fact, a whopping 65% of homeowners state that spending more time at home has inspired them to renovate their properties.

One of the most popular ways they’re doing this is by adding a loft conversion. 

And it makes sense. Not only does refining your interiors make your home a nicer place to be, but when it comes to bigger projects (particularly extensions), it increases the spatial dimensions of your home.

And we all know what that means: added value. Ka-ching!

Did you know: during the first UK national lockdown, Google searches for attic extensions increased by 200%. This makes sense when you consider that they can add up to 20% to the value of your home.

So, let’s get to it. Here are five steps to getting your attic conversion under way...

1. Explore the types of loft conversions available

When it comes to attic extensions, it’s not a one size fits all. In fact, there are many different styles of loft conversions you can go for, each with its own benefits.

A rooflight loft conversion is the cheapest and easiest way to do things. Basically, you keep your loft space like it already is and add rooflights. Naturally, you’ll need to add stairs (if you don’t already have them) and you’ll need to think about plumbing and electricity and have the floors reinforced - as you will for every type of loft conversion.

Dormer loft conversions are a little like rooflight conversions except with the addition of dormer windows. These add to the available floor space and even increase head height. When your pitch angle is high, dormer windows are a great way to create more space.

Meanwhile, a hip-to-gable loft conversion essentially extends your property by converting the slanted section of the roof into a vertical wall. By doing this, you can also introduce standard windows.

Finally, a Mansard loft conversion is a true extension, essentially adding a whole new floor to your house. This is done by changing the sloping roof structure to create almost-vertical walls, leaving a final roof that’s flat. 

2. Assess your property

Being able to introduce a loft conversion ultimately depends on the pitch and shape of your existing roof. The more usable load-bearing walls you have, the easier and cheaper it will be to convert.

A good way to check if it’s possible is to stand in the centre of your attic space and measure the headroom. Generally, if you have over 7ft of space, it’s possible.

That said, it’s always a good idea to seek advice from a builder or loft conversion specialist. They’ll be able to advise whether the structure of your building can take it.

After you’ve determined if it’s suitable, shop around for an architect, building surveyor or a specialist loft conversion company. If you’re a DIY pro, you may find you can do it yourself. After all, lockdown saw an 80% increase in searches as people went looking to convert their lofts with a DIY approach.

3. Decide what you want from your loft

Thinking about how you’ll use your loft space is essential to the design process. If your sole aim is to add value to the property, you’ll want to make sure the space is fairly flexible and universal.

Also consider what your home is lacking. If you feel like your family is outgrowing the downstairs, consider converting the space into a play room or extra living room. If you’re working from home for the foreseeable, a home office is a great idea. Or if you’re into home workouts, think about turning your loft into a home gym. The world is your oyster.

If your ceilings are sloped, you’ll want to get creative with how you use that limited space under the eaves. Storage is always a good option, but you could also adapt it into low seating.

4. Think long and hard about stairs

One of the biggest hurdles with loft conversions is how you’ll actually get up there in the first place. Space is usually tight, so you’ll want to consider your options.

While pull-down ladders or narrow and windy staircases are good solutions, they can be difficult for kids or older people to climb up. Plus, carrying your furniture up there can prove tricky.

You may need a purpose-built loft staircase, for which you’ll need approval from your building control officer. You’ll also need to shop around and budget for the additional cost of this - generally, they’re around 10 times the cost of pre-assembled designs.

Finally, always make sure your staircase meets fire safety regulations. Ideally, it should lead to a hallway and external door. 

5. Make it light and airy

To truly get the most out of your loft and maximise its value, make sure the design for your attic space emphasises light and air. Lighter wall colours are great for creating the illusion of extra space.

Meanwhile, large roof lights and windows increase natural lighting and create a room that feels pleasant to be in. Poor artificial lighting is proven to lower moods and cause migraines and eye strain.

And if you have the space, consider a floor-length mirror. Not only will it add to the décor, but it’ll reflect any natural light around the space. After all, nobody likes dark and dingy.

From there, your dream light and airy loft conversion awaits!