Is your loft too small to convert?
Loft conversions are one of the UK’s favourite home improvements – what’s not to love? They are a quick method to add substantial floor space to your home without losing any outside area and they’re usually a far cheaper (and less bothersome) alternative to moving to a larger property within the same area.
Of course, not everyone’s loft is suitable for conversion. While the vast majority of them are, a tricky few are either too small, too low or too strangely shaped to be turned into any kind of practical living area.
There’s also the problem of marginally sized lofts. Although these could be converted, how do you know that the end result will be big enough to justify the expense of conversion? Not to worry! We’re here to assure you that small loft conversions make fabulous cosy spaces that are a worthwhile addition to most homes. They can be a home office, a den or a bedroom, quite often offering a fabulous neighbourhood view that you probably didn’t even know you had!
So, can you tell if your loft is suitable simply by sticking your head up through the loft hatch? Here’s what you need to know…
The regulations surrounding this type of home improvement state that lofts need to be at least 2.4 meters high before they are converted. To check this, get up into your loft with a tape measure, then measure from the top of the ceiling boards all the way up to the peak of the roof.
Be aware that the conversion process will further reduce head height, since the roof requires panelling and plastering, and a proper floor has to be installed. After that work is done, there needs to be a minimum of two metres headroom remaining in order for the conversion to be compliant.
Don’t worry about trusses
Trusses are the large beams that often criss-cross the attic space in order to support the weight of the roof. Many homeowners whose attics contain large W-shaped trusses believe that these render their lofts unsuitable for conversion, but this simply isn’t the case. Trusses can be removed in a relatively easy process, replacing them with steel or wooden beams running the length of your roof to bear the load. This way, the full space of your loft can be opened up, ready for conversion.
Go for dormer windows
Dormer windows are the ones that are cut out of the sloping roof and projected outward, generally with their own flat or arched roof. These can add a little extra headroom and create curious little nooks that add a lot of character to your space. Since your loft room will command the highest viewing point of your house, a dormer window will offer a perfect place to fit a window seat. If your dormer is large enough, you may even be able to fit the head of a bed right up against the window, giving you a morning wakeup bathed in sunlight.
Image credit: ocean yamaha. CC
Add some skylights
In small spaces, maximising the amount of incoming natural light becomes important, making the environment feel bright and airy. Because of their upward facing angle, sloping loft ceilings are a perfect place to add skylights. At any time of day, these let in far more light than a regular window.
Plan in plenty of storage
Even if minimalism isn’t quite your thing, in a small space like a loft, it’s a great idea to keep clutter to a minimum. Clean, clear expanses of space make small rooms seem large. There are all kinds of clever storage solutions that can be picked up inexpensively to hide all the clutter.
Don’t be afraid of big furniture
Just because the room is small doesn’t mean that you have to pick out equally tiny pieces of furniture. Sometimes, it can be a much better use of space to go for one or two huge pieces of furniture instead, so be bold and throw that giant sofa or king-sized bed in there. A word of warning though – just make sure you’ll be able to get them up your new loft stairs before you buy them!