Gone are the days when your loft was just an empty space at the top of your house, useful only for storing old boxes, Christmas decorations and the setting for horror films. Thanks to affordable loft conversions, these underutilised spaces can become so much more.
What was once a dusty attic now has the potential to become a functional and beautiful living space, a study, a guest bedroom or even a studio. Whatever you decide to use it for, a well-built loft conversion is an excellent way to enhance your property and lifestyle while maximising the value of your home – all without causing too much disruptive construction work.
There are four main types of loft conversion, each with their own pros and cons. The type you decide to go for will depend on a number of factors: from the age and type of your property, the layout of your existing roof, local council regulations, your own preferences and – of course – your budget.
It’s a big decision, and it can be difficult to know where to start.
That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide to everything you need to know about the different types of loft conversions.
Dormer Loft Conversion
A simple flat roof dormer is the most popular type of loft conversion in the UK. It is a timber or steel structural extension that projects vertically from the roof creating a box shape. It is normally located on the side or rear of the roof.
As well as being the cheapest type of loft conversion, flat roof dormers also provide the most amount of internal space in your loft, thanks to the additional headroom and floor space created by the straight walls and flat ceilings. With the addition of windows, what was once a cramped attic can become a place with plenty of natural light and ventilation.
Flat roof dormers are suitable for most property and roof types and do not require planning permission to install (front facing dormers are subject to planning permission however).
They aren’t considered the most aesthetically pleasing conversions though, and if you are willing to take on the additional expense and reduce the amount of internal space, a gable fronted or hipped-roof dormer can provide a more attractive looking alternative.
Hip-to-Gable Loft Conversion
A hip-to-gable dormer is usually found on houses with three separate slanting sides on the roof. These are usually on detached, semi-detached and end of terrace houses. This conversion takes the slanted end of the roof and straightens it to create a vertical wall.
This style of loft conversion creates more roof space allowing other types of dormer to be constructed, as houses with hipped roofs often have limited internal volume for other conversions to be practical. Hip-to-gable dormers also allow new staircases to go directly over existing ones, minimising any lost space in the home.
In addition, this conversion easily blends into the existing roof for a more aesthetic result, and you can maximise the interior space by combining it with a rear flat-roof dormer. Detached houses with two sloping sides can add even more space by opting for a double hip-to-gable conversion.
This type of conversion is not appropriate for mid-terrace homes and can be more expensive than standard dormers. If you are in a semi-detached house, a hip-to-gable loft conversion can make the building feel imbalanced if your neighbour hasn’t had one.
Mansard Loft Conversion
A Mansard loft conversion is very similar to a flat roof dormer, except for the fact that the rear wall of a mansard has a shallow backwards slope of around 72 degrees and windows built into it are constructed as small dormers.
It is constructed by raising the party walls (that’s the walls you share with neighbouring properties) and the finished head-height is slightly less than you would find in an equivalent sized dormer.
Mansard loft conversions are most popular in terraced houses but are suitable for almost all property types and typically found on the rear of the building. Because this style of loft conversion involves substantial changes to the roof structure, planning permission is almost always required.
The dormer style windows and gentle slope mean Mansard loft conversions are typically considered more aesthetically pleasing than others, especially on older properties, as they can be made to blend into the existing roof structure. However, it is also more expensive than other loft conversions with long construction times.
Roof Light Loft Conversion
Roof Light Loft Conversion, also known as Velux conversions (due to the leading manufacturer of roof windows), is simply when windows are installed flush to the roofline with no alterations to the original shape of your loft.
This type of conversion is ideal for lofts where there is already plenty of head height. Because there is no change to the roofline, planning permission is generally not required and costs of the conversion are far lower than other styles making this an attractive option for many people.
However, unlike other loft conversions, this does not add any extra usable space and the limited headroom may make the area difficult to move around.
Helping you get the most out of your loft
That covers the basics of loft conversions and the most common types you will encounter.
At MCS Southwest, we provide stylish loft conversions throughout Bristol and whatever you decide to use it for, we can help show you the smartest way to maximise the value and space in your home and turn a storage area into a space you can use and enjoy.