Loft conversions are one of the most popular ways to extend a home. And this is for good reason: there’s not actually any extending involved, and it’s also a pretty cost-effective way to create an additional liveable space in your home.
One of the most common applications for a loft conversion is to turn it into a bedroom. You might be considering this if you want to add an additional room in which guests can stay, or if you fancy creating a cool bedroom for the kids.
However, there are several things to take into account when considering any type of home extension or conversion, meaning you can’t just convert your loft into a room and call it a bedroom.
Most loft conversions won’t require planning permission and will be covered by the Permitted Development rules, although you will need permission if your property is listed or you live in a designated area.
You will need to consider how you will light, heat and ventilate the room, and you will also need to design the space so that it complies with building regulations, from the red tape-related stuff to the actual layout of the room.
What are the general regulations for loft conversions?
The most important regulations to pay attention to when converting your loft relate to the structural integrity and safety of the space.
There are a few minimum requirements you’ll need to be aware of:
– floor and ceiling structural integrity;
– stability of the existing roof;
– any changes made to party walls;
– suitability of any proposed changes from a structural stand-point;
– stairway access;
– fire safety (including an escape route); and
The above list isn’t exhaustive, so be sure to check with an experienced professional before embarking on your conversion.
Bedroom-specific regulations for a loft conversion
So, you’ve got your head around the general regulations for a loft conversion, but what about the idea of turning it into a bedroom?
If that’s what you’re planning to do, there are a few additional regulations you’ll need to take on board.
Headroom is important. To comply with Part K of the current UK building regulations, you’ll need to ensure there is sufficient headroom for movement around the room. In some instances, this might mean the roof will need lifting and altering.
Insulation will be high on the agenda, too. It’s vital that the space if thermally sufficient, and this applies to the floors, the walls and the roof. Roofing insulation, for instance, needs to be a minimum of 50mm.
When it comes to fire and safety compliance, the regulations vary depending on the number of stories your home has. Generally speaking, the higher the loft conversion is from ground level, the stricter the rules are likely to be.
What about access?
For a bedroom loft conversion, you’ll want to install a staircase rather than a ladder. If you opt for a spiral staircase, double check with your architect that the proposed design will meet all safety regulations.
An escape route (although not particularly palatable to think about) is just as important a consideration as the access to your loft bedroom.
A minimum of 2m headroom for the whole escape route is required, and you’ll need to achieve 30 minutes of fire resistance with all the materials used along the escape route.
You’ll also need to fit a fire safety door which is capable of being opened fully. This will provide access into and out of the loft bedroom. Any other doors along the escape route will need to be upgraded to fire doors, too.
Obviously, regulations are changing all the time, which is why the advice given in this blog post is purely for guidance. If you’re not in the building industry yourself, then it makes sense to bring in the services of an experienced architect or builder, to ensure you’re covering all the bases.
Despite the red tape, and all the other hoops you’ll need to jump through along the way, your new loft conversion will be worth it once you have all that extra space, not to mention the extra value it will add to your home. And, above all, you will also have the reassurance of knowing that the space is safe for you and your family.