What to keep in mind when turning your loft into a guest bedroom

13 05 2013


This image via Flick creative commons from Holland and Green

Turning the space above your ceiling into a liveable area which can provide extra accommodation for a growing family, or to be used as space for visiting guests, is an increasingly popular idea.

But  although there is likely to be the minimum of formal permissions required – especially if the work involves little, if any, alterations to the outward appearance of a house – it is vital that such a project is planned thoroughly, and all the potential pitfalls considered and discounted before you go ahead.

Whether the space which is freed up by a loft conversion will be used as a ‘livable space’ or not will heavily influence the amount of work which will be needed.

But in any case, there is a long list of aspects of a loft conversion into a bedroom which have to be carefully considered before the work can begin. These include:

– The condition of existing walls and foundations, and their ability to cope with a change in use of part of the area they support.

– What new floors, beams, walls or doors will be needed to be able to support the extra weight of someone using the room?

– The standard of sound insulation. This is a legal requirement between all habitable rooms in a house. And if you are converting the loft in a terraced house, the insulation between your and your neighbour’s roof spaces may have to be upgraded to meet minimum legal standards.

– What will be the means of emergency escape? When the loft space in a typical two-storey house is converted, plans will have to be put in place for an escape route. So while a proper route will have to be established, new fire-resistant doors, and possibly partitions, will have to be put into place to protect the stairway by which the loft is accessed. In nearly all cases, a retractable loft ladder will not be considered sufficient, so a permanent staircase is likely to be needed. There are also minimum standards to which such a staircase must be built.

– You should also consider that your loft area will need to have sufficient headroom to allow it to be used safely by anyone sleeping in the space, and whether someone using it will be able to move around easily and safely.

– Thought will have to be given to the type of furniture which is used in any guest loft bedroom, as it will almost certainly have to be assembled in situ in order to avoid the common difficulty of not being able to get the furniture up the restricted space available for the loft entrance.

– The materials of which the furnishings in the loft are made will also need to be carefully considered. It may not be enough to simply use flame-retardant materials, and instead it might be necessary to go for safer, flame-resistant alternatives.

– Finally, you will need to extend your home’s power supply to the new loft space, so you should also be sure to get all electrical work carried out by a suitably qualified instructor. This is not only important for the safety of the house’s current occupants, but also in the event that the house is sold in order for it to be able to satisfy the needs of those compiling a home buyers’ report or structural survey.

Specialist companies which have a track record of carrying out similar work should also be contacted to obtain more than one quote for the work. Companies such as Econoloft have been planning and executing loft conversions for various purposes for many years, and will be able to give the benefit of the practical experience and knowledge which they have built up over this time.




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