Whether you are out to add a dormer loft conversion to create a new master bedroom suite for yourself or a study for the kids, this blog post will help you get a fundamental understanding of how a planning application for a dormer loft conversion works, and how you create a design from concept to build to build the best loft conversion you can afford.
A quality dormer loft conversion can add much-needed space to your home. This guide will lead you through the main stages of the process from planning, to designing and building your new loft space!
So let’s begin…
Understanding what you need out of a dormer loft extension is the first step – do you need an extra bedroom? Do you want an extra bathroom?
Once you know exactly what you need you can begin to look into the planning stage of the process. Planning policies tend to have specific requirements for dormer loft conversions, so you’ll need to check with your Local Planning Authority to get your borough’s particular policies. Below are some common planning policies relating to a dormer loft conversion:
Sometimes it’s also helpful if your neighbours have a similar loft extension, and you’ll be able to see this on your LPA planning portal, or on Google Maps. Seeing similar loft extensions constructed in your area can also help you work out if there are any restrictions on this type of development.
If you have permitted development rights, you can submit a Lawful Development Certificate application for your dormer loft conversion.
If you don’t have permitted development rights or if your design doesn’t meet with the limitations of permitted development rights, then you will need to submit a Householder Planning application. For both, you will require a full set of planning drawings including scaled floor plans, elevations and sections, which we can help you with.
The most important policy to check – other than any restrictions on development – is the one concerning the minimum height of the internal loft. Usually, this is 2.3m. To measure the headroom, stretch your tape measure from the top of the ceiling joist to the bottom of the ridge timber.
If you have this height, you can begin choosing a design and layout for the rooms you would like to create. If your loft does not meet this requirement, you may not be able to create a habitable room such as a bedroom. You will always need to double check with your council and ask for a written response.
So now you have the standard minimum height, and you know there are no restrictions on this development – now you’re ready to design your loft.
If you know from the beginning what you want to see in the space, you want to check your vision on paper.
This is a big step. A carefully thought-out design is imperative to getting the most out of the potential of your space, so you don’t want to rush it. Below you’ll find some key considerations for layout and interior design:
The first thing you have to consider with a loft conversion is the area available. Extending into the loft usually means that you don’t have tons of new space to play with. So your home loft conversion interior design has to be clever in this regard. Using light colours, keeping the area free from clutter and using innovative storage solutions are all part of the interior design process for a loft conversion. The trick here is to use a small palette of colours so that you don’t overwhelm the space.
Light and pastel colours are ideal for making the loft conversion look and feel as large as possible. Even if you have a large loft and more space to play with, these home loft conversion interior design ideas will still work for you.
Working out how to access your loft can be difficult, as you will need to add a new staircase to your home. Usually, the best place for these stairs is directly above your existing staircase if there is enough space. Sometimes stairs are added within an existing bedroom with access from the main landing. This all depends on how much space you have on the first floor of your home.
If you would like a bathroom in the loft, you will need to consider where the existing waste pipework is and how you will connect the new bathroom to this system. Once you have worked out a general layout plan you can begin thinking about materials.
Whatever the function of the new room is, the space must feel warm and cosy for the new occupant. Whether it’s for you or someone else in your household, the interior design for the loft conversion has to meet the requirements for whatever the use is.
If the dormer loft conversion is to be a bedroom, then make sure that the new space can block out light, make occupants feel comfortable and put you or your loved one in the best possible place to get a good night’s rest.
Likewise, the loft space may be used as a workshop or office, so adaptability is paramount here. Curtains with blackout backing can help you get some shuteye if it’s to be a bedroom, but when drawn, they should let as much natural light as possible in if it’s a workspace. Clever use of artificial light can also bring huge benefits here too, regardless of the function of the room.
The quality of the interior design for a home loft conversion will be determined by the details. The smallest items can make a massive change in the way a room looks and feels.
The addition of a new colour to the scheme can have a drastic effect, and you need to think carefully about all the design elements, as you have to juggle different colours and textures.
You should take swatches of material and photographs of the room when you go out shopping for your interior design elements – that way you can see the impact it might have when you’re considering options for:
It isn’t easy to get all of these just right for a single room. It can take a little time to shop around and create that perfect feeling of style and comfort. Planning ahead is going to help you here. Never be afraid to take notes, measurements and photos with you to decide if what you’re considering fits perfectly.
When entering a loft extension from a new stairway, your eyes can wander everywhere searching for a place to settle. This effect is created by a lack of focal point. So, setting up a picture in a frame, a coloured feature wall or a set of bright cushions on a bed will draw focus and help the room to feel complete. A focal point is important in every room, and a loft extension is no exception – your loft conversion interior design won’t be complete without it.
The right interior design will make your new dormer loft conversion so much better from the outset. That’s why it’s a good idea to work with an architect who can help you get the drawings just right before making your dream a reality. The final drawings will show all details such as measurements, layout and finishes. With these drawings, you will be able to apply for planning permission and also have drawings for a builder to price up your project.
Once you have planning approval, you can get quotations from builders in preparation for building. At this stage, it would also be wise to get a Party Wall Agreement with your neighbours.
Choosing your builder is just as important as having good scaled drawings, and it can be difficult. It is best to ask for up to 5 quotations for cost analysis and to request a portfolio of previously completed works. It may not be wise to go for the cheapest builder, as they may not complete the work to a high enough standard. So, you should contact previous clients to see how the builders were to work with and to check the quality of the work.
Once the builder gets started, it is important to monitor but not micromanage. Hovering over the builder while they’re on your loft conversion project could make them frustrated, pressured and they might not do part of the job correctly. Once the work is complete, the builder should do the clean-up as part of his works. It is up to you whether you hire the builder to do the final touches of paint and wallpaper once the main works are complete.
Now that the extension is constructed you can have fun rearranging the furniture and sit back and relax in your new dormer loft conversion!
Planning, designing and building a dormer loft extension can be hard going, as it takes a lot of thought to decide on what you want and what you need in terms of space. This how-to guide should help you to work out how to create your own dormer loft extension, and advice from RIBA chartered architects and planning consultants like us will always be useful. Even if you’re very knowledgeable on the process, it can be good to get some input from a professional who knows the ins and outs of the process.
What’s our secret to rolling out over 30+ success stories a month? Our architects work with our planners to allow us to deliver loft conversions on time and on budget – with all the right paperwork in place!
If you would like to join hundreds of successful homeowners, start your project by getting your quote today, or call us on 0203 793 78 78. We’d be more than happy to help!