In the age of social media, many Brits spend a large chunk of their free time scrolling through TikTok or Instagram, looking at ways in which they can improve their home.
One such home renovation idea that is popular at the moment is a loft conversion. A well-done loft conversion can help transform unused storage space into an incredible new room.
The possibilities are endless – it can be a new bedroom, an office space, a games room, or even an extra living room.
That being said, a loft conversion is not the most straightforward of jobs and there is a lot to consider and plan before getting to work.
If you do it right, you can increase the value of your home by 25%, as estimated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which will be handy if you are thinking of ever selling.
Make sure to follow these tips and consider these factors:
1. Plan thoroughly and make sure that a loft conversion would work for your home. Not every home or loft will be suitable to be converted, so this is certainly the first step you should take.
2. Check whether or not you need planning permission. If you’re not altering the roof or structure of the building then it’s likely you won’t need planning permission, but if you are, then you will need to contact your local council. You will need approval under Build Regulations and Party Wall rules.
3. Decide what you’re going to use the converted room for. There are some great choices, ranging from a games room to an extra bedroom. Knowing what the room is going to be will help you immensely in the planning stage.
4. Make sure you know what type of loft conversion you’re going to do. It’s likely that you’ll go with an internal loft conversion which won’t cause big disruptions on the outside of your home, but you can go with dormer or roof off conversions if you want to create extra space.
5. Decide on the type of loft insulation you’ll need, if the existing loft space doesn’t have the required amount already installed. Good quality loft insulation will help to keep energy bills down during winter so it is a vital element to consider in your conversion plans.
6. Consider the amount of headroom that you’ll need if you are going to convert the loft into a living space. For a traditional cut rafter and purlin roof, you’ll require 2.2-2.4m of headroom, which extends to 2.4-2.6m for modern trussed rooms.
7. Put together a list of tools you’ll need if you are doing the work yourself.
8. Plan how long the work is going to take from start to finish and the times of day the work will be done. You’ll want to avoid disrupting your neighbours as much as possible, so it will be best to consult with them first during the planning stage on when the best times will be.
Dos and don’ts of loft conversions
1. Know your regulations
Make sure that you know exactly what official documentation you will need before starting anything. This could be planning permission, party wall agreements, or building regulations.
2. Spend a lot of time and effort on planning
You don’t want to rush into something that you’re going to regret a few months or years down the line. Make sure you have planned every small detail and that it’s exactly what you want, as there’s no magic button to undo all the work done to your home.
3. Decide when the work will take place
The ti3me of year does often matter when you’re considering a big project like this. Many experts would advise you to undertake a loft conversion during the spring or summer months, so that it doesn’t get too cold while the work is being done.
4. Insulate the roof, walls, and floors
Arguably more important than any furniture, paint, or decoration that the newly converted loft room will be getting is to make sure that the roof, walls, and floors of the loft are insulated properly, to prevent heat from escaping in the winter and to keep the loft cool in the summer. It’s estimated that around 25% of heat in the home is lost through the roof, 35% through the walls, and 10% through the floor.
1. Take on tasks that you’re not qualified for
It can be tempting to try and do the majority of the work yourself in order to save money, especially when you’re on a strict budget. However you should only do this if you’re 100% confident that you can do a good job of it. If you make a mess, you may have to fork out large amounts to get a professional in to fix it.
2. Accept the first quote you’re given
Hiring the right professionals for the job can often be a stressful process, but it’s absolutely crucial that you don’t just jump in two footed with the first person you get a quote from. Do your research and background checks to make sure they are trustworthy and reliable, and that you’re getting a good deal for the price.
3. Leave the professionals to do everything
If you leave the hired contractors to undertake all of the work, the chances are you’ll be paying more than you should be by the end of the project. As mentioned, there are things you can do yourself that will reduce the billable time, such as planning, cleaning, and the purchasing of materials.
4. Buy everything new
You can save a lot of money on the overall project by getting some materials as cheap as you can, while filling the room with furniture can be done by looking online for freebies wherever possible. It can also give you a fun DIY adventure to spruce up old furniture to reuse it in your new loft room.
What is the average cost of a loft conversion in the UK?
It will depend on the size of your home, the size of your loft, and the choices you make for the room itself – but the average cost is around £40,000 for a semi-detached house.
If you go with a Velux loft conversion, also known as a roof light conversion, is done via adding in skylight windows and is expected to cost between £15,000 - £20,000. A dormer loft conversion is an extension that protrudes from the slope of the roof and usually costs between £30,000 - £60,000. A hip-to-gable conversion extends the sloping hip roof outwards to create a vertical gable wall, creating more space, and will likely set you back between £40,000 - £65,000. Mansard loft conversions tend to be the most expensive and work by altering the angle of the roof slope making it almost vertical, and cost between £45,000 - £70,000.
How to save money on your loft conversion
As a loft conversion is a huge project, it’s best not to try and cut any corners and do things as cheap as possible, but there are steps you can take to try and save a bit of money.
1. Do the work yourself where you can if it’s an internal loft conversion, to save money on the costs of professional labour.
2. Do any painting and decorating in the room rather than hiring a professional. Paint can be bought for cheap enough prices from the likes of B&Q and should be easy enough to do yourself. This also goes for any wallpapering, shelving, or tiling, which you can do yourself and save a good deal of cash.
3. Search for cheap or free furniture from online marketplaces such as Gumtree or Freecycle. You can often find some gems in there that just need some TLC.
4. Avoid having to raise or lower your ceilings. During the planning, it’s best to work with the space you already have if you don’t want the costs to skyrocket.
5. Don’t knock through or move internal walls if you don’t have to. Moving or eliminating walls can often cause more headaches than it solves, and can actually reduce the overall value of your home.
6. Ask around for quotes. Whether you need an architect to put together plans or a professional to do the work, don’t just go to the first person you find. You could get a better deal elsewhere.
7. Don’t buy things you don’t need. When planning a major home improvement project, you can become too enthusiastic with your spending. Make sure that anything you buy is 100% necessary and that you’re not wasting your budget.
8. Fill in your own planning permission application. Some people decide to use a consultant for this, but if you need planning permission then you can save money by filling in the application form yourself.
9. Hire people that know what they’re doing and have a good reputation. Make sure you have done a lot of research into any tradespeople you hire, as if you go with the wrong ones and they do a bad job, it could cost you more money in the long run to fix any messes that they’ve made.
10. Don’t pay in advance when you don’t need to. There’s usually no reason to pay large amounts of money for a job in advance, so be wary of forking out big sums before any work has been completed.
11. Buy the materials yourself and shop around. Some professionals that you hire may charge you a mark-up on materials that they buy for the project, but you can avoid this if you buy the relevant materials yourself from other suppliers directly.
12. Clean up and recycle the materials yourself. As a loft conversion is such a huge project, there will be a lot of mess at the end of each day. If you can clear up yourself each evening, then you save the builders and workers that you’ve hired for the job from having to do it, which would be billable time for you. Also make sure to hire a skip and recycle any materials that are able to be recycled.
Which are the most searched for house features in the UK?
We also looked at how this particular home renovation idea compares to other popular house features in terms of popularity with Brits. We have used Google Search data to determine what people in the UK are actually interested in when it comes to giving their house a modernised makeover.
Conservatory is the most searched-for house feature
|Home Feature||Average searches in the UK (per month)|
|2. Bi-fold Doors||82,928|
|3. Outdoor lighting||81,461|
|4. Home office||62,859|
|5. Mirrored wall||55,146|
|6. Underfloor heating||43,363|
|7. Loft conversion||34,782|
|8. Patio doors||33,367|
|9. Walk-in shower||29,875|
|10. Ceiling fan||27,550|
The most recent Google Search data suggests that the conservatory is the feature that UK homeowners are most interested in, with an average of 92,457 searches per month. As well as the generic search, people are interested in various additions to their conservatories too, such as furniture for conservatory (37,830 searches), blinds for conservatory (15,844 searches), roofing a conservatory (15,462 searches), and insulation for conservatory roof (7,006 searches).
The second-highest searched home feature is a slightly surprising one, as bi-fold doors receive 82,928 average monthly searches in the UK. As the summer approaches, time in the garden will be increasing, so outdoor lighting searches may increase even further, and they’re currently third on the list with 81,461 searches.
With the last two years, it’s no surprise to see home office towards the top with 62,859 average monthly searches, while a mirrored wall rounds out the top five with 55,146 searches.
Loft conversion is in the top ten at number seven, and it’ll be interesting to see if it moves up the list over the next few years as it spikes in popularity.