IN and Out of Loft Conversion

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If you have always dreamed about having more living space but aren't keen to pack up and move house, a loft conversion could be a perfect option for you.

Whether you're after a bright and airy home office or studio, a light-filled spare bedroom, a play space for little ones or a sunny place to kick back and relax, there are plenty of choices when it comes to expanding your property with a loft conversion.

First, you'll want to climb into your attic and do some investigating - grab your torch! If you've not been up there for awhile, you'll want to get a real feel for the place, take measurements and consider its potential. Ceilings with a minimum height of 2.3 metres are often required for loft conversion mansard and you'll also want to pay particular attention to the slope - or pitch - of your roof. The steeper this is, the better - you may even find you have room for a mezzanine level.

You'll want to remain realistic about your loft's potential and it may be worth asking a number of questions before you proceed further. What are you planning on doing with the space? If you intend to fit it out with a bathroom, you'll need to make sure your pipes can handle the added pressure. Will you be spending a lot of time up there? If so, you'll want to check whether you need to fit additional radiators and whether your current boiler can deal with them. And how efficient will the new space be? You may find that you need additional wall insulation or loft insulation to ensure your new conversion stays warm and functional.

Once you've covered the basics and have a good idea of what you want to do with your loft space, your next step should be to look at your budget. Not only will you want to get a good idea of your estimated costs before you get started, you'll also want to examine how much added value your conversion will give to your property.

Ideally, you'll want to make your extension as appealing to potential future buyers as it is to you, so you'll want to build with others in mind. Different types of loft conversions have different values - one with a fixed staircase, for example, is probably a better investment than one with a fold-down ladder as the latter option would not count as a separate room or living area.

At this point, consulting designated south london loft conversions specialists or an architect may be a wise idea. These individuals can help you with every stage of the process - from evaluating how to make the most of your space to dealing with the local authorities when it comes to getting planning permission for your new extension.

A recommended tradesman or team of loft conversion experts can also help you with all your building needs - they can ensure they are properly insured to carry out the work and secure essentials such as scaffolding and a skip if they are needed. Most importantly, hiring professionals to help you bring your conversion from idea to reality can help you avoid making costly or dangerous mistakes when the work is being carried out.

If you are looking to hire someone from your local area, make sure you opt for a recommended expert and enquire with a few different tradespeople - this gives you the opportunity to compare quotes and make an informed decision. It is always wise to compare at least three builders' quotes before you make your final choice.

Once all the planning permissions have been arranged and granted - this is a process that can take up to three or four months - you are ready to begin! Depending on the scale of your loft conversion project, it may take between four to eight weeks to complete.

Builders are likely to begin the project from the top down - strengthening existing joists with steel ones to handle the extra weight of floors and new furniture. At this point, Velux windows are also likely to be installed. Around halfway through the project, you should see the interior walls begin to take shape, followed by the staircase. Finally, you'll have time to add in the finishing touches, such as furniture, fixed shelves, a coat of paint and flooring, to make it really feel like an extension of your home.

No matter what you choose to do with your improved living space, your loft conversion could prove to be an enjoyable place to spend time in your home - and could also prove to be a very valuable investment if you plan to sell your home in the years to come

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