Outlining and describing the three main types of loft conversion; dormer, hip to gable and mansard. If planning permission and Building Regulations Approval is required.
Choosing how to create extra room by efficient use of unused space
A loft conversion is an ideal and very popular way to create more space in a property. Its main appeal is the idea of using previously unused – or at the least under-utilised – space to create another room or facility such as, say, an extra bathroom or dedicated home office. The decision as to what type of loft conversion to go for will be determined by the use you wish to put it to, your budget, and what’s possible in terms of construction.
Planning and Building Regulations Approval
Planning permission may or may not be required depending on the type of loft conversion; obviously you’ll need to check with your local authority to make sure.
Building Regulations Approval will be required for a loft conversion irrespective of whether or not planning permission is needed. These are in place to ensure your new loft meets certain standards of structural strength, sound and energy insulation, and other safety requirements.
The three types
The basic ‘Velux’ option – where these specialist loft windows are simply installed into the roof – doesn’t really count as one of the three main loft conversion options. It’s important to find the right expertise for your conversion so ensure you book a tradesman of the right type.
Like a dormer window that protrudes from the roof, a dormer loft conversion does the same but can create a whole new area. Its main attribute as a loft conversion choice is the fact it provides a vertical wall and a horizontal ceiling so avoiding the slanted walls situation when usually using a loft space.
The potential is there to create a large usable space – maybe even becoming the largest single room in the property – and they often don’t require planning permission.
Hip to Gable
This type of conversion is popular for properties with three slanted sides to the roof. The side slanted section – the ‘hip’ – is extended and made vertical and the new part is constructed using the same (or very similar) roof tile and brick types so as to look as if it’s an integral part of the property design.
If the property has two ‘hip’ roof slants, then of course two loft conversions could be constructed thus creating more space if desired. If the distance between the height of the main roof and the joists of the ceiling below is on the low side, then unfortunately a hip to gable loft conversion may not be viable as there won’t be enough usable height to make it worthwhile.
Planning permission may be required for this type of loft conversion.
Named after the 17th Century French architect Francois Mansart, this type of conversion calls to mind the classic mansard town house designs with the steeply sloping roofs with dormer windows featuring. They’re the most involved and require a lot of structural work to complete and will almost certainly require planning permission.
In effect, the mansard design creates more space in the loft by reducing the angle of pitch to the front (or more likely rear) of the existing roof enabling a flat top. Dormer windows are usually installed and the whole effect, along with creating a practical space, makes for an aesthetically pleasing look.
In effect, a mansard conversion creates an extra storey to the property and so much more room to exploit.
Naturally, cost and the type appropriate to your needs will influence what loft conversion you’ll decide on. The mansard is likely to prove the most expensive but you would be getting pretty much a whole new floor; that said, a dormer can create considerable room and may be more appropriate for certain types of property.