Loft conversions: Consider the details

When planning your loft conversion it is important that you consider all the details, including lighting, heating and fire safety in order to create the right loft space for your needs.

TODO alt text

Consider the details such as lighting, heating and fire safety when planning your loft conversion.

Loft windows

In ‘designated areas’ such as a Conservation Area, there can be restrictions on the style of rooflights you can use: typically they will want conservation rooflights that sit flush with the line of the roof, and have a discreet black frame. In most situations rooflights do not require planning permission, but dormer windows will require consent if they are at the front of the property or face a highway. Any new windows (excluding rooflights) that are side-facing – typically gable windows or dormer windows – will require planning permission unless they are obscure-glazed and fixed, or set above 1.7m height. Dormer windows are more expensive than roof windows, but create greater headroom. As they add volume, they also count as part of the enlargement of the roof space in planning terms. If you can’t reach windows to open them, get ones that are operated by remote control.

Heating and ventilation

Before work begins, check your boiler can cope with the extra demand for heating and hot water. In particular make sure the water pressure is sufficient – you might need to raise the height of the header tank, or switch to a pressurised plumbing system. Ensure good natural airflow by placing windows that open at opposite ends of the new room, as loft rooms can get warm.

Fire safety

Building regulations require loft conversions that are 4.5m above external ground level to have 30-minute fire protection in the floor and walls, including the protected route to an external door. This often means upgrading doors to all habitable rooms onto the stairwell to fire doors. In a bungalow, a fire escape window with a clear opening of at least 45x45cm in each habitable room is acceptable. In an open-plan house, sprinklers may be a suitable alternative.

In the gallery: In a split-level, contemporary space, solid walls or bannisters can be swapped for glazed panels to open up the room and allow light to travel into otherwise dark corners. Here, a shelving unit through both levels creates a feeling of continuity. Centre pivot skylights with an internal pine finish, from £237.60 (manual) or £616.80 (electric) for (H)98x(W)55cm, Velux.

All prices and stockists correct at time of publishing.