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George Clarke’s top tips for converting a loft

Free up the potential of your loft, says architect and TV presenter George Clarke. Its unusual shape and elevated views could create the best rooms in your property

Title image: Charles Hosea

A loft conversion can revolutionise the way you and your family live and use your home. Find out all you need to know with these top tips on planning issues, where to find expert help and how to solve the staircase problem.

Contact your local planning department

Find out what you will and will not be able to do in your local area if you are planning a loft conversion. It’s also worth checking the Planning Portal.

Check for local restrictions

Local restrictions may impact on particular design decisions, such as the inclusion of skylights or dormer windows, so it is important you check every element of your plans carefully.

Dormer windows can provide crucial head height in a loft space, while skylights can boost the amount of daylight filtered into a build. If neither of these is permitted in your area you will want to know as soon as possible.

Commission an architect

A good architect will take all local and national planning regulations into account as part of the designing process. Ask friends or neighbours who have had similar work done on their own property for a recommendation or go to RIBA’s national database of chartered architects. Also, do your homework by taking inspiration from other loft conversion designs before embarking on your own.

Solve the staircase problem

Where you put the staircase to your top floor will affect not only the new space but the old space below.

Will you have to lose a room on the lower floor to gain one above? Think about how everyone will move around the house and how that affects the function and accessibility of your new spaces.

Get a builder and structural engineer on board

Designing a loft conversion and incorporating a staircase is a specialist business. It requires structural expertise so look for a builder and a structural engineer who have lots of experience working on similar projects.

From original article on Grand Designs Magazine

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