The need to add more living space to your home can arise due to several reasons.
Most homeowners need additional space for their home office, an extra bedroom for their teenage child, for homeschooling, or a playroom for their grandkids. With such pressing needs, you can choose to build an additional space extending into your backyard or convert your loft space.
Building an additional room is undoubtedly complicated and expensive. On the other hand, converting the loft may seem a straightforward and affordable solution. However, it isn’t a simple task. Below are five crucial things to consider when converting your loft into an additional living space.
1. Do You Have Enough Space?
Before choosing to convert your loft (or Attic if you’re from the US) into a living space, you should ensure that it will provide sufficient space. If your loft can only hold a few holiday suitcases and Christmas decorations, you will be better off building an additional room. You should also be able to stand comfortably, even after floorboards and insulation have been installed.
How you intend to use the converted space determines if it can provide enough space. For instance, if you need an extra office where you will be sitting down mostly at your desk, you don’t need much space. However, if you want to convert it into a bedroom, your loft should be at least 2.4m high and have a wide floor area. Besides, for the room to make a safe bedroom, it should pass several fire regulation standards.
2. Make Sure It Meets the Local Building Codes
Like any other construction, your loft should satisfy various building codes and requirements. Some of the basic building codes to consider include;
- It should have at least 7ft vertical clearance, 7ft wide, and 70 square feet overall space. If your loft cannot meet these measurements, construction experts can help you increase its height by building a dormer.
- It should be accessible by a full-size staircase.
- There should be an emergency exit, mostly a sizeable window
- If your loft was previously only accessible from a pull-down staircase or ladder, you should fix a permanent staircase before making it a permanent room.
Apart from meeting these building requirements, you should also confirm if you need a building permit. Consult permit offices in your locality to verify if you should be issued a building permit to convert your loft. Permits are usually required for buildings that need additional ventilation, electrical wiring, or changes in structure, such as building a dormer or knocking down a wall.
3. Consider Heating and Ventilation Needs
Depending on the prevailing season, temperature control in the loft can prove challenging. As such, you should install intelligent heating and ventilation solutions to regulate temperatures in the room. Since insulation standards change frequently, you should think about your heating and ventilation solutions in the early stages of construction.
Any existing insulation on the floor of the loft should be removed and new systems fixed to the framing of the roof. Insulation solutions with an R-31 rating are best for use in converted lofts. However, if the room is spacious, R 6.7 – 6.1 insulations may be used.
The next challenge is providing sufficient ventilation. Construction experts recommend the installation of a ridge vent along the peak of the roof with soffit vents to allow continuous airflow through rafters. However, this solution is quite pricey and might require the complete removal of your existing roof structure. If this sounds complicated, you can opt for a hot roof system.
4. Loft Essentials
Converting your loft into a living space requires the installation of many other living space essentials. Worth mentioning are the floor, windows, lighting, bathroom, and an emergency exit. Collaborate with your building expert to find ways of strengthening the loft floor without affecting the structure of your home. Most experts prefer installing “sister joints” for additional support.
A complete living space should also have a bathroom. Most people prefer placing their loft bathroom right above the second-floor bathroom for efficient drainage and plumbing. However, doing this doesn’t save on costs. Therefore, don’t shy away from installing your loft bathroom anywhere.
5. Choose the Right Construction Expert
Succeeding in converting your loft into a living space is highly determined by your choice of a construction expert. With the complexity of this project, even avid DIY enthusiasts may not handle it successfully. Other rooms and structures in your home may also be affected during the construction process, requiring input from restoration experts. Therefore, unless you know what to do, you should hire construction experts to avoid disappointments.
Unfortunately, the large number of self-proclaimed construction experts make it daunting for homeowners to find reliable professionals. However, you can make a hiring decision by looking at these professionals’ experience, quotes, and the previous loft builds.
Converting your loft into a living space is certainly a complex project. However, working with the right professionals simplifies the process while assuring breathtaking results. This is an excellent addition as the new living space can also increase your home’s resale value.