Loft Conversion

Looking to Convert your loft?

Looking to convert your loft into a fantastic new space for your home? Handyman Hunter is here to help, call or e-mail us and we shall get the project going as well as answer any questions you might have.

There are a lot of seemingly complicated steps to getting your loft converted, so knowing where to start can feel daunting.

To help you run through the process from start to finish, HandymanHunter has put together this step-by-step guide. Assuming your house is suitable for a conversion, you’ll need to measure the space accurately, pick from four main types of loft conversion and then choose a builder or architect.

But fear not – it doesn’t necessarily need to be a complicated journey. Keep scrolling as we explain the key stages of a loft conversion.

Can my loft be converted?

Before you do anything else, you need to work out whether your loft space is actually suitable for conversion. Most homes will come with an allowance for permitted development (PD), which means that you can go ahead with your conversion without planning permission. However, if you live in a conservation area, or if your roof space isn’t tall enough, it may be more complicated.

You can ask Handyman Hunter to get this check out for you.

Look for other conversions on your street

To get a sense of whether your loft can be converted, see whether any similar properties on your street have had loft conversions. If you do spot examples, it’s more likely to be a possibility. If you can, it’s also worth going one step further and asking to take a look at the loft of anyone in your street that has had it done.

That way, you can get a sense of the size of the space and start to think about how you’ll fill it up. Measure the head height The minimum height you need for a loft conversion is 2.2 metres and you can easily measure this yourself. Run a tape measure from the floor to the ceiling at the tallest part of the room. If it’s 2.2 metres or more, your loft should be tall enough to convert.

Victorian houses tend to be lower than those built from 1930 onwards, so may not have sufficient head height. On the subject of older houses, consider other obstacles, such as water tanks and chimney stacks, when planning your conversion. Check what type of roof you have Depending on when it was built, your home will either have roof trusses or rafters. By looking through your loft hatch, you should be able to tell straight away what type of roof you have.

Rafters run along the edge of the roof and will leave most of the triangular space below hollow. Trusses are supports that run through the cross-section of the loft.

Converting a loft with trusses is possible, but extra structural support is needed to replace the trusses and it’s likely to be more costly. Consider the floor below Many people neglect to factor in changes to the floor below the loft when planning a conversion.

It’s worth having a think about where the staircase is likely to go and how much room it might take up. Even a well-designed, space-saving staircase could take up a sizeable chunk of a room, so make sure you have space you’re happy to lose.

Once you’ve assessed whether you’re able to have a loft conversion, check our page on loft conversion costs, which includes average prices, plus tips from experts and people who have had a loft conversion. How long does a loft conversion take? Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on the trader you’re using and the type of loft conversion they’re dealing with.

Roof light conversions are usually the quickest, taking around four weeks to complete. A dormer conversion can take closer to five weeks, while a hip-to-gable conversion can take around seven weeks. You can expect a mansard conversion to take closer to eight weeks to complete. The first week or two will be spent preparing your home and gathering the materials and tools required.

Work usually starts on the outside of your property. After that, the focus turns to the inside of your house and the flooring, insulation and stud walls. The final stage will deal with plastering, electrics and plumbing.

Types of loft conversion: what's the difference?

There are four main types of loft conversion: roof light, dormer, hip-to-gable, and mansard. The one you choose is likely to be determined by a number of factors, including the type and age of the house you live in, and your budget.

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Roof light conversion Pros An affordable option for buyers on a budget, suitable if you live in a conservation area.

Roof light conversions are by far the cheapest and least disruptive option, as you won’t have to make any changes to the shape or pitch of the roof. Instead, it’s simply a case of adding in skylight windows, laying down a proper floor and adding a staircase to make the room habitable. However, you’ll need to have enough roof space already without having an extension for this type of conversion.

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Loft conversion Pro's and Con's

Dormer conversion Pros An option for most houses with a sloping roof. Cons More structural changes needed compared with a standard conversion, so can take a while to build. A dormer loft conversion is an extension that protrudes from the slope of the roof. Dormers, in particular flat-roof dormers, are the most popular type of conversion. They’re suitable for pretty much any home with a sloping roof. Dormer conversions are less expensive than mansard or hip-to-gable conversions, but will still add a good deal of extra headroom and floor space.

Hip-to-gable conversion Pros Generally less expensive than extending outwards, more natural-looking compared with a dormer conversion. Cons More expensive than a dormer conversion, only suits houses with a free sloping side roof. Hip-to-gable conversions work by extending the sloping ‘hip’ roof at the side of your property outwards to create a vertical ‘gable’ wall, creating more internal loft space. This type of conversion will only work on detached or semi-detached houses, as it requires a free sloping side roof.

If you have a detached house with sloping roofs on either side, you can build on both of these to create an even more spacious double hip-to-gable extension.

Mansard conversion Pros Creates lots of new useable space, suitable for many different types of property. Cons Can be particularly expensive, don’t look very natural due to change in roof slope. Mansard extensions run along the whole length of your roof and will alter the angle of the roof slope, making it almost vertical. These tend to be the most expensive type of conversion, but will result in a significant amount of extra space. Mansard conversions are suitable for most property types, including terraced, semi-detached and detached houses.

Why choose Handyman Hunter

When hiring any tradesperson, it’s best to start with a recommendation. Speak to friends and family, and have a look online to see if there are any local forums offering recommendations. If you check out our reviews we have countless happy customers, call us and let’s have a chat about what you would like to do and Handyman Hunter will provide a plan of how we achieve dream loft conversions for our customers.

Planning permission for a loft conversion many loft conversions are covered by permitted development (PD) rights and won’t need planning permission. However, if you live on designated land or have a certain style of property that’s tricky to convert, you may not be covered by permitted development. You can find out more about whether you’ll need planning permission, and any other permissions you might need, by visiting our guide to building regulations and planning permission.

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Should I tell my home insurance company about a loft conversion?

Yes, you should tell your insurer about any changes that will alter your home’s structure, habitability, security or value. For example, a loft conversion may increase its value and this will likely affect your buildings and contents insurance premiums. When staying elsewhere while your loft conversion is completed, then you should tell your insurer about this as well, and try to give several weeks’ notice. If you’re having serious building work done, consider specialist renovations insurance. This covers against things going wrong with the building work, materials and property owners’ liability.

Loft Conversions

When it comes to adding a new bedroom, bathroom or study, nothing tops a loft conversion for getting the job done.

In many homes, the loft area is a neglected space. A place for boxes filled with who knows what or just left empty with nothing but dust bunnies inside. Why wouldn’t you want to get it working harder?

And now is the time for your home to work hard. With the price of stamp duty hammering homeowners, not enough properties on the market, and unstable house prices, more and more people are choosing to improve over moving.

So what does it take to convert your loft? Over the course of this guide, we’ve collected all our expert knowledge on the subject, covering everything from suitability, design, planning, all the way to construction.

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When it comes to adding a new bedroom, bathroom or study, nothing tops a loft conversion for getting the job done.

In many homes, the loft area is a neglected space. A place for boxes filled with who knows what or just left empty with nothing but dust bunnies inside. Why wouldn’t you want to get it working harder?

And now is the time for your home to work hard. With the price of stamp duty hammering homeowners, not enough properties on the market, and unstable house prices, more and more people are choosing to improve over moving.

So what does it take to convert your loft? Over the course of this guide, we’ve collected all our expert knowledge on the subject, covering everything from suitability, design, planning, all the way to construction.

Why choose a loft conversion?

While many home extensions reap huge rewards for the homeowner, few do it quite so well as the loft conversion.

Cost-effective, with a wide range of design options, it’s no wonder many see a loft conversion as the hero of home expansion. Not convinced? Just check out these impressive benefits…

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Home Value

In terms of ROI, return on investment, it’s hard to outdo a loft conversion. Because you’re working in an existing area, costs are brought down, yet you’re also generating a whole new storey of new functional space. This is the main difference between a loft conversion and a rear extension.

Rear extensions are often expanding existing rooms – kitchens, living rooms, and dining areas. Whereas with a loft conversion, you’re adding a brand new area and a valuable one at that. Many homeowners choose to use loft conversions to add in a new bedroom and in doing so can add anywhere between 5-7% extra value to their home.

And unlike their basement counterparts, loft conversions can be kept budget-friendly, so you needn’t break the bank to reap the rewards.

Permitted development rights

Loft conversions benefit from a planning scheme known as ‘permitted development rights’. These entitle a homeowner to expand their home without the need for planning permission, providing certain guidelines have been followed.

We’ll talk more in detail about the ins and outs of permitted development rights later on, but for now, just know these rights enable you to potentially skip all the uncertainty of planning permission, as long as you’re working with an architect who knows planning policy like the back of their hand.

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Design potential

If you’re ready to get creative, you’ve got no better canvas. Loft conversions are incredibly versatile. With a good architect by your side, there’s no telling what you might create with your project. A bedroom? A playroom? A study? Perhaps even a new bathroom? Providing your roof allows it, you can let your imagination run wild.


The eco-conscious among you will be happy to hear loft conversions have the added benefit of making your home more energy-efficient. That’s because most homes lose the greatest amount of heat through their roofs, especially older properties. Converting this space will mean you’ll bring a greater level of insulation to your home, resulting in less environmental impact, plus a decrease in your energy bills.

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Dormer Loft Conversion

It’s no secret that UK homes are facing a space shortage, especially in the high-demand city areas. But with not enough new homes being built, and the cost of stamp duty forcing many to stay put, finding room for a growing family can be challenging.

It’s no wonder then that loft conversions have seen a huge upswing in recent years. Improving not moving is now the name of the game, and transforming the dead space in your loft is the ideal solution for many homeowners.

If you are considering a loft conversion, you might have heard the phrase ‘dormer’ thrown about. But what is a dormer loft conversion? And, more importantly, is it right for your home?

What is a dormer loft conversion?

A dormer loft conversion is when a box-shaped structure is added onto a pitched roof, creating walls that sit at a 90-degree angle to the floor. This helps to expand not only your headspace but floor space too.

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Types of dormer loft conversion

When it comes to adding a dormer, there is a range of styles to suit every home. Such as…

Flat roof dormer: as it says on the tin, this is a dormer with a flat roof that sits horizontally.

Shed dormer: a flat roof that slopes down.

Dog-house dormer: a dormer with a roof that has two pitched sides like your classic dog house.

L-shaped dormer: touched on above, this dormer has two parts that form an L shape.

Hipped roof dormer: similar to a dog-house dormer, but with three sides instead of two.

Is your home suitable?

On the whole, any home with a pitched roof and loft space can add a dormer. Flat roofs can also create a loft addition, but this wouldn’t be classed as a dormer, and so is a topic for another day.

Because they create new headspace, dormers are perfect for lofts that are just that little bit too small.

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Do dormers require planning permission?

One of the major benefits of adding a dormer is that they fall within your permitted development rights. These rights entitle you to extend your home without the need for planning permission, providing your perspective addition follows a strict set of guidelines.

For instance, you won’t qualify for permitted development if…

You live in a listed building or conservation area.

Your dormer exceeds 40 meters on a terrace house or 50 meters on a semi-detached/detached home.

The height of your dormer exceeds that of the original roof.

Your dormer features a balcony – though Juliet balconies are fine.

The materials used by your dormer are out of character with the rest of your home.

Your neighbours are affected by your dormer through overlooking or overshadowing.

Bats live inside your loft. As a protected species, you need a special license to disturb their home.

If your project does fall within permitted development, make sure you apply for a Lawful Development Certificate. This not only ensures you won’t face any legal issues in the future but also proves to future buyers that they’re purchasing the quality design.

Dormers and building regulations

While planning permission may not be needed, building regulations certainly can’t be. They’re a vital part of any loft conversion, and you’ll need to dedicate both time and money to ensuring you get building control approval before construction.

Compiling with building regulations will involve several professionals, and can include the services of an architect, structural engineer, and surveyor. You’ll need these professionals in order to demonstrate your future space will be safe for habitation. With detailed drawings covering…



Fire safety


Stair design


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Roof space

Traditional frame type roof structures are often the most suitable type for loft conversions, allowing the space to be opened up relatively easily and inexpensively. Typically found in pre-1960s houses, rafters on traditional roofs run along its edges, leaving a good amount of free space. The rafters may need to be strengthened or additional supports added (your structural engineer will advise on what is required).

Attic truss roof

Trussed roofs have ‘W’ shaped rafters which support the roof and the floor structure. Truss roofs are harder to convert, but not impossible; the ‘W’ shaped rafters can be replaced with ‘A’ shape structure which creates a hollow space. This normally involves the insertion of steel beams between loadbearing walls for the new floor joists to hang on and the rafter section to be supported on — together with a steel beam at the ridge.

While this can add additional costs, it could be a worthy investment, so take this into consideration during your planning process.

Without the roof space for water tanks and plumbing, the heating and hot water system may have to be replaced with a sealed system.

Unvented hot water cylinders make a better choice than replacing the boiler with a combi boiler, but they do take up a cupboard-sized room, which you will have to find space and budget for.

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How Much Head Height is Required for a Loft Conversion?

When you measure from the bottom of the ridge timber to the top of the ceiling joist, you need to have at least 2.2m of usable space for a conversion to be suitable.

If the initial roof space inspection reveals a head height of less than 2.2m, there are available – but costly – solutions that will require professional input.

a roof with a steep pitch provides ample room for a loft conversion


The higher the angle of the roof pitch, the higher the central head height is likely to be, and if dormers are used or the roof is redesigned, the floor area, and potential for comfortable headroom, can be increased.

Can my Home’s Foundations Handle the Extra Weight of a Loft Conversion?

Adding the extra weight of a loft conversion to an existing home can put extra stress on the foundations, and in some instances cause subsidence. Your home’s foundations should be checked before carrying out a loft conversion — to do this, your builder will need to dig a trial hole to expose the foundations. Your building inspector may want to check these also.

If your foundations are deemed not deep enough to support the extra weight, you’ll likely require a structural engineer’s input. They may suggest structural interventions to spread the load of the weight through structural beams, or else look at underpinning the foundations. Both of these can add a lot to the cost of your project.

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Loft space

Ideas for your loft conversion


If you’re browsing small loft conversion ideas – perhaps a small, child’s bedroom, a home office, maybe even a kids’ TV room, or teen crash pad, first work out whether your small loft is even big enough to convert. We love the simple design of this small loft room, and the light colour scheme brightens it up so that it feels roomier than it actually measures out to be!


If you’re going for a big loft conversion and adding a kitchen, then consider sticking to an open-plan kitchen layout to max out the space. We love this loft conversion idea for its modern design, and the chic moody colour scheme works a treat – largely down to the open-plan layout that rids the risk of a confined feeling, in a small space. Regardless of what you are planning on using your new loft for, an open plan concept allows you to have this gorgeous huge room in your home that you can do anything with. An amazing office/workspace, movie room, amazing master bedroom, an open plan area allowed you to chop and change as the years go on.

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This is more of a tip rather than an idea, however, it is an extremely valid point. If you’re designing a bathroom to suit a loft conversion and are looking to tackle an awkward space, consider building handy recesses into the eaves. They make the most of space that might otherwise have been wasted and make a sleek addition to a contemporary bathroom – especially when designed to complement the rest of a scheme. They’re also the best place for the toilet and bath to be sited.


Good light is a must, of course, but if you can construct your loft to incorporate full-height French doors over a Juliette balcony, or tall panels of glazing, you will make the room feel more like a natural addition to the house, create a feeling of bright, light space, and, no doubt, be able to take advantage of great views.


Finally, something to consider, in fact, something very important to consider is how your newly adapted loft space appears from the outside of your home. A fantastic new space is all well and good but you don’t want to suddenly have an eyesore of a home. If your loft conversion will include extended sections, consider whether you want the new exterior to contrast with or complement your existing property. You could choose matching brickwork, or include rendering or cladding for a more contemporary finish.

For modern homes, frameless and minimalist-style windows are a great option. However, if you have a period property and want an attic room or loft extension, there may be conservation requirements – such as requiring windows to sit flush with the roof – that reduce your options.