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15th Jun 2016

Light and Lofty; Making Space Whilst the Sun Shines

Loft conversions can be one of the most cost effective ways to add space to your home. Loft conversions of up to 50msq (40msq for a terraced house) fall under permitted development; no planning permission required. However if you live in a listed building, conservation area or you are significantly changing the roof shape you may need approval. Roof lights and dormer windows are permissible if they are not higher than the current roof and materials match the existing house.

In order to create a feeling of space, head height needs to be greater than 2.2m. Mansards, named after the 17th-century French Architect Francois Mansard, are a great way of achieving this. A mansard has a flat roof, with a sloping outer wall and windows are usually housed within small dormers. Mansard loft conversions may require planning permissions, due to the large changes to the roof shape and structure.

For semi-detached and end of terrace houses with a roof that slopes on 3 sides, a hip-to-gable conversion is another smart solution. This type of conversion involves changing the sloping side of the property to a flat gable end. This increases the size of the loft space, often creating extra space for the staircase. Again this type of loft conversion changes the outline of the roof planning permission may also be required.

Ben Holland of Holland and Green, with whom StuartBarrCDR have shared many projects, was featured in this months '25 Beautiful Homes' Magazine, giving professional advice on loft conversions. One of his recent joint projects with StuartBarrCDR was pictured. Here he shares some of his secrets … go on… lean right in… I will have to whisper…

‘Although it is possible to convert your loft relatively cheaply with tile hung dormers and UPVC windows most of us prefer to create something architecturally pleasing. Careful materials choice is paramount; cladding dormers or mansards in timber, lead or zinc makes a statement, as do large areas of glass. Although it is possible to convert a loft for much less, a high end conversion of this kind is likely to cost in the region of £75,000 - £120,000 and the resulting space is considerably more attractive.

Ben’s tips:

  • Ensure you plan for adequate insulation: avoid a room that is freezing in winter and a hot house in the summer.
  • Soundproof floors to ensure that you don’t hear every footstep below!
  • Adhere to fire safety precautions - fire doors are a much and we advise the installation of a wired smoke detection system.
  • An expanse of glass - whether fully glazed or as an oversized skylight is key to creating a shoe stopping interior - The loft space has the best views in the house - so it is worth making the most of it.
  • Homes from the early to mid 20thC tend to have steep roofs - which is worth capitalising on. Victorian terraces tend to have a shallower pitch (where it is particularly important to find a way to create good light and generous head height.

Holland and Green are a boutique architectural practice specialising in high-end extensions, renovations, barn conversions and new builds across London, Surrey, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. They are able to deliver outstanding designs that have inherent ‘buildability’ and fulfill our clients needs for properties that ‘just work’.

Contact either Holland and Green at hollandandgreen.co.uk (01865 593330) or StuartBarrCDR via our contacts page or by phone (01844 217706).

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