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A Guide to Loft Conversions

If your home is cramping your lifestyle and your space, you need to find a way of creating more of it. The natural response is to examine the option of moving, or, adding an extension. But, have you considered turning the dingy, abandoned space at the top of your house into something practical and usable? At Abbott Building Services, we have over twenty years of experience in constructing loft conversions in Oxford and the surrounding areas. We have put together this article to give you an insight into the different elements involved in delivering high-quality loft conversions.

Different kinds of loft conversions

Typically, there are four main ways in which we can adapt your existing roof space into a bedroom or any other type of room. These are roof light, dormer, hip-to-gable and mansard. A roof light conversion is relatively self-explanatory. It requires no extension of the exterior roof and only changes to the interior. They have become increasingly popular due to the moderate cost, the flow of natural light and ventilation they produce, and the lack of issues regarding planning permission. Dormer loft conversions are popular with homeowners whose properties contain shallow loft spaces. They feature a window that protrudes out beyond the roof, creating a spacious room with plenty of light. Hip-to-gable conversions require a semi-detached house, and as a full-length mansard conversion, take longer to complete. With both of these conversions, the removal of the roof may be necessary, and the time and materials used in construction make it more costly.

We have experience in delivering loft conversions in Oxford of all shapes and sizes, so we are well placed to advise which will best suit your property.

Do you need planning permission?

Unlike house extensions, loft conversions in Oxford are less fraught with the complications of planning permission. The permitted development right for homeowners satisfies the majority of the jobs we undertake. Roof light and dormer conversions generally fall under permitted development, so long as they don’t sit above the summit of the roof, or project beyond the roof plane. Mansard conversions add another story to your roof and virtually always require planning permission. Likewise with hip-to-gable modifications, as they build outward from the existing structure.

Any time we have to alter the roof height or shape, or if a property is listed or located within a conversation zone, loft conversions fall outside permitted development. In these scenarios, we will always work with the client to help secure the relevant permission from the local Oxford planning office. Sometimes this may include you having to arrange neighbour consultations to ensure everyone is content with the proposed work.

Building regulations for loft conversions

The building regulations for loft conversions tend to centre around three main areas: insulation, minimum headroom within the loft and fire safety. We can effectively insulate the floors, walls and roof with high-quality materials and our team of electricians have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the building regulations concerning fire safety. To be able to convert your loft, it must have minimum headroom of 2.2m. To comply with building regulations, this must be 2m in all escape routes and 1.8m where the sloping roof meets the interior floor. To secure the building regulations sign-off, your loft conversion will need to meet these conditions and a few more. And unless your property is detached, you may also need to consult your neighbours under the Party Wall Act.

Lighting your loft conversion

One of the most frequent concerns people have surrounding loft conversions is how to illuminate them. With roof light conversions, the solution is ever-present and can add a surprising amount of natural light. Dormer windows also provide an abundance of light and create an open feel to a loft.

For additional lighting, down lights and track lighting are great sources of stylish and practical artificial light. If connected to a central dimmer switch, it can be a great way to control the ambience in a bedroom or recreational space.

If you live in Oxford, and you are desperately seeking additional space in your home, get in touch with us. We can provide a free, no-obligation quote, and a project management service that will deliver a high-quality, durable and smart loft conversion.