If you need more room in your home, or simply want to maximise your use of all of your available space, a loft conversion is definitely an option to consider. They are particularly popular in areas like London, where homeowners often lack the space to expand their properties. A converted loft can add a lot of value to a property, whether as an addition to your rooms or as space to rent out.
The first thing you will need to do is make sure your loft is suitable for a conversion. Factors like your roof’s height, available head room in your loft, the angle of your roof pitch and obstacles like water tanks or chimney stacks will all influence what options will be open to you for a conversion. Speak to a structural engineer first of all to get an idea of what work will be required. You may also want to hire an architect to make detailed plans for the project. These will also help you secure planning permission. It is crucial at this early stage to contact your local planning authority to enquire about what planning permissions your conversion may require.
The main contributors to your quote will be any alterations to your loft’s structure. The floor may need to be reinforced to support a full room, you may need to make space for a staircase, and so on. The cheapest loft conversions are ‘room in room’ conversions that require no physical alterations to the roof. These are usually around £15,000, though adding dormer windows can bring the total closer to around £20,000. A dormer window conversion is likely to cost between £35,000 and £45,000, while any project involving raising the roof or fully changing its structure will likely cost at least £40,000. It is also possible to have the new loft built off site and then craned into place. This option will reduce disruption, as well as scaffolding and labour costs, but will usually cost around £55,000.
Try to consider the long term costs of your conversion in terms of utilities. You can reduce your heating bills with high quality insulation and double glazed windows. An architect may even recommend that you add solar panels to your roof. Discuss your options with your tradesmen, but try to stick to your budget as much as possible.
A tradesmen will usually want to visit your property to assess your loft before giving you a quote. Do not trust rough over-the-phone estimates, as these will not be approximate. Loft conversions are often complex, so if you do not have experience with such projects you may want to consider hiring a project manager to supervise everything. An architect can also fill this role. A manager can help you with budgeting, negotiating with tradesmen and suppliers, and avoiding common pitfalls.
A loft conversion can seriously impact the structure of your house and roof. In other words, you'll want to be sure that your tradesmen can do the job safely. Check their qualifications and experience carefully, and ask to see reviews from their previous clientele. They will need to have active Public Liability Insurance before starting work on your project. If you need the services of an architectural designeror structural engineer, ensure your hire has Professional Indemnity Insurance. Some of your potential hires may belong to a national tradesman's' organisation, such as the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). These groups have strict entry standards and continually scrutinise members to ensure that they deliver the appropriate levels of quality and professionalism, so membership is a great sign to look out for. Finally, as loft conversions can be long and expensive projects, get a contract with your tradesmen. To protect your investment, it's important to get everything in writing.
Loft conversions are long, complex and expensive home improvement projects, so you do not want to risk everything by hiring an incompetent tradesman. You can avoid this, and also take a great deal of time out of your search, by using Plentific. The Plentific website hosts information on over 75,000 registered tradesmen across the UK, and can quickly generate a bespoke contact list of options in your local area that offer the skills and services your job requires. Each of your new options will also have a Plentific profile which you can inspect. These host information on qualifications, details on previous jobs and even reviews from past clientele. The Plentific Guarantee, which can cover your entire project, will also be available if you choose a 'verified' tradesman.