Is your loft too small to convert?
Loft conversions are one of the UK’s favourite home improvements – what’s not the love? They are a quick method to add substantial floor space to your home without losing any outside area. They’re also 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? We’re here to reassure 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 view over your neighbourhood that you probably didn’t even know was possible.
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 2.4m at the highest point 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 this work, 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 relatively easily, with steel or wooden beam replacements running the length of your roof to bear the load. In 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 either their own flat or arched roof. These can add a little extra headroom and create curious little nooks that add a lot of character. Since your loft room will command the highest viewing point of your neighbourhood, 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, letting you wake with the morning sun bathing you in light.
Image credit: ocean yamaha. CC
Add some skylights
In small spaces, maximising the amount of 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. These let in far more light than a regular window at all times of day.
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 spaces seem large. There are all kinds of clever storage solutions that can be picked up inexpensively to hide all the clutter away.
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 stick that giant sofa or king-sized bed up 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!