Guides & Information

» Loft Conversions

[Top»] Steps involved in planning a conversion

One of the most complicated aspects of loft conversions are the many regulations and permissions that are required.

The majority of lofts can be converted however to what extent depends greatly on the condition and structural ability of your existing property. They are a fantastic way of adding an additional room to your property and should increase the value of your home. 

1.  You will definitely need the services of an architect not only to design the loft conversion to your specification but to ensure that your design complies with fire regulations and that the correct calculations can be made with regard to the designed load that you intend to place on an existing floor and whether the floor is capable of withstanding it

2.  If the loft conversion is your first extension on the property and does not exceed 40 cubic metres on a terraced property and 50 cubic metres on others they you may not requireplanning permission. This condition only applies when properties are not located in a Conservation Area and are not at the junction of two public highways.  All flats do require planning permission.

3.  Once the plans have been approved by you, and signed, they will be submitted to the Local Authority for determination under the Section 63 of the Town and Country Planning Act General Development 1990. (approx 2-3 months for approval to be granted)

4.  Once planning has been approved Building and Fire Regulation plans need to be written and submitted to your Local Authority Building Control department for design appraisal andstructural calculations submitted to support the proposed design to the Structural Engineers department for checking and approval. (approx 4 - 6 weeks for approval)

5.  Upon approval, the necessary Statutory Commencement Notice upon the Local Authority Building Control Department in accordance with the Regulation 14 of the Building Regulation 1985 (amended 1994) needs to be granted.

6.  The following permits will probably need to be obtained from your Local Authority prior to the works commencing.

a) Skips & material use and storage on the highway (Local Authority Highways Section)

b) Waste disposal containers (New Roads and Street Works Act 1991)

[Top»] DIY or get the experts in

If you are in any doubt it is worth checking with a specialist, you may be able to find a company that is happy to support you in an advisory role or allow you to assist with the process to reduce costs.  It is essential that you have all the necessary permissions and approvals before you start the process and that the final conversion has also been signed off to ensure that you do not have any issues should you come to sell your home.

There are 10 basic steps in the construction of a loft conversion, although yours many vary from these, especially if you’re having a more complicated design.  Knowing these and what they involve will help you have an informed conversation with your builder about your requirements hopefully reducing any unexpected surprises once the build has started. 

1.      Erection of the scaffolding.

2.      An access hole is made in the roof and the supporting devices lifted in.

3.      The external frames are erected.

4.      Insulation is placed into the loft between the frames.

5.      The stairs are erected.

6.      Internal partitions (if appropriate) are erected.

7.      The room is boarded and plastered.

8.      The building inspector makes a final visit.

9.      The scaffolding is removed.

10.    Internal decoration can begin.


The neighbours! Make sure you speak to your neighbours about this before the builder starts.  Tell them how long you expect the work to take.  Let them know the builders name and what hours he will be working.  Be consideration if they have young children or elderly relatives living with them.  Especially important is gaining their permission if the builder needs to go onto their land to secure the scaffolding or to lift larger items into the roof.

[Top»] Questions to ask


Before entering a contract with a builder it is important that both parties understand exactly what the ‘finished job’ is.  Discuss and agree with them whether they will paint it for you, hang the wall paper, if there is a bathroom involved does it include the installation or do you need a separate tradesperson for that? What about fitting electric sockets and lighting?  Do the costs include the purchase of things such as tiles and light switches or are they all extra?  The clearer you and your builder are about these things up front the less likely there are to be delays in the process or misunderstandings once the work has started.

Further sources of information