Loft Conversion FAQs

Loft Conversion FAQs

We appreciate that having a loft conversion is a major financial outlay and so you will have lots of questions. We have tried to answer the most common questions below, but if you would like to know more, please get in touch with us and we will be happy to respond.

Planning Permission

Will I need planning permission?

Most loft conversions do not require planning permission, although there are exceptions, namely, flats, some new houses, properties within conservation areas and all listed buildings. The majority of lofts will fall under Permitted Development. Please read our guide below.

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (No. 2) (England) Order 2008

• In October 2008, planning laws were relaxed and all houses have now got separate permitted development rights for the roof space. This new rule does not apply for flats, some new houses, properties within conservation areas and all listed buildings. Also some dwellings have specifically had their permitted development rights removed by the local authority, under an Article 4 direction.

• If you are not sure whether your dwelling is affected by one of the above, give your local authority a call to check. It would also be prudent to check if any restrictive covenants apply to your house, these are restrictions placed upon your house by either the builders or local planning department when you house was first constructed. It may place obligations or restrictions upon yourselves, details can be found on the deeds or again by contacting your local authority.

Assuming your loft can be carried out under Permitted Development, the rules applying to the conversion can be briefly summarised as follows:-

1. No part of the dwelling house would, as a result of the works, exceed the height of the highest part of the existing roof;
2. No part of the dwelling house would, as a result of the works, extend beyond the plane of any existing roof slope which forms the principal elevation of the dwelling house and fronts a highway;
3. The cubic content of the resulting roof space would exceed the cubic content of the original roof space by more than:-
a. 40 cubic metres in the case of a terrace house, or
b. 50 cubic metres in any other case.
4. The development would include the construction or provision of a veranda, balcony or raised platform, or
5. The dwelling house is in a conservation area

There are some further conditions that apply to the above where development is permitted by Class B subject to the following: –

The materials used in any exterior work shall be of a similar appearance to those used in the construction of the exterior of the existing dwelling house, apart from the case of a hip-to-gable enlargement, the edge of dormers shall, so far as practicable, be not less than 20 centimetres from the eaves of the original roof, and any window inserted on a wall or roof slope forming a side elevation of the dwelling house shall be glazed in obscure-glazed, and be non-opening unless the parts of the window which can be opened are more than 1.7 metres above the floor of the room in which the window is installed.

Can Econoloft apply on my behalf?

Econoloft can offer to make an application for a certificate of lawful development if a client so wishes, this provides our clients further piece of mind, and future assistance if they ever wish to sell their house at a later date, when such a document may be requested.

What if I do need planning permission?

Your local authority may well have published guidelines as to what is, and what is not acceptable when considering a loft conversion. It would be in your best interest to discuss your proposal informally with your planning department so as not to waste time and money upon unrealistic proposals. Don’t always assume just because a neighbour has had a loft conversion, you will be granted permission – every case is considered individually.

Party Walls

What is the Party Wall etc.? Act 1996?

If you are an owner of a terraced or semi detached dwelling contemplating a loft conversion, this could involve some kind of work to the wall or walls between yourselves and your neighbours, these walls are classed as Party Walls and therefore you have certain responsibilities under the act, being defined as a ‘Building Owner’ under ‘The Party Wall etc. Act 1996’.

The Act requires a ‘Building Owner’ of a property intending to carry out works to a party structure to serve notice on any affected adjoining owners.

An adjoining owner cannot stop someone from exercising the rights given them by the Act, but can influence how and when the work is done.

What could my neighbour do?

There are three options available to an Adjoining Owner and these are described as follows: –
1. They may consent to the works described in the Notice.
2. They may dissent from the works described in the Notice and appoint a recommended surveyor to act as an Agreed Surveyor.
3. They may dissent from the works as described in the Notice and appoint a Surveyor of their own choice.

The Act envisages that, in most cases, there will be agreement about proposed works between the relevant owners. Therefore, it is obviously best to fully discuss your planned conversion with them prior to serving notice.

A friendly discussion will allow you to explain the scope of the works and should reassure them that the work involved is relatively minor and of a straight forward nature.

However, you must receive consent to the works in writing by getting the adjoining owner to complete the counterpart of a Party Structure Notice.

What if we don’t get on with our neighbours and they refuse?

Should the Adjoining Owner decide not to reply to the Notice within 14 days or dissent from the works and fail to name a Surveyor to act for them, then a ‘10-day Notice’ will need to be served requesting that they do so. If they fail to respond to this a surveyor will be empowered by the Act to make an appointment on their behalf so not to cause unnecessary delay to the commencement of the building works. Unfortunately, the surveyor’s fees are generally the responsibility of the Building Owner.

Please note that the Party Wall Surveyor is a ‘statutory appointment’: he or she has no Client and cannot be dismissed or instructed. The role is to act in the best interests of the wall and parties to it and, therefore, it is quite acceptable for an adjoining owner to both dissent from your proposals and to agree to the appointment of an agreed surveyor to act for both of you. It is equally acceptable for an adjoining owner to consent to the works and this will not deprive them of their legal rights or common law protection.

Loft Conversion Process

Do you provide plans?

From your initial deposit Econoloft undertake a survey of the property in order for us to draw your plans by hand to make sure nothing is missed. At Econoloft we have our own in house drawing office and will advise on the best possible scheme in order for you to gain the most out of your loft conversion and still comply with the local planning restrictions.

What about the paperwork?

If Planning or a Lawful Development certificate is required, we would submit this on your behalf.

What happens when we have the paperwork?

Once all permissions are in place we are to complete the structural calculations and manufacturer steels in our Lancashire warehouse. Every aspect from start to finish is individually tailored to your house and requirements.

How long does the work take?

All conversions vary due to the different type of work however; as a guide we would estimate that the work will take 6-8 weeks. A Dormer conversion will typically take a week to 10 days longer than a Velux™ conversion.

How is the rubble and waste disposed of?

Via a skip, the cost of which will be costed in your contract.

What about the water tanks in the loft?

Plumbers are able to move your water tanks, and if need be install new ones.

Can I have natural wood panel fire doors?

No, all our panel fire doors are made of pressed material.

What will happen to my existing loft hatch?

The existing loft hatch will be blocked off, made secure and plastered.

Will steel work be required in my conversion even though it is only a Velux™ conversion?

In most cases yes.

Who supervises the work?

We have qualified supervisor who visits each site during the conversion.

Loft Conversion Regulations

Will my loft meet Building Regulations?

Yes. If your conversion is for habitable accommodation, then it needs to be planned professionally to ensure it confirms to stringent building regulations. Here at Econoloft, we have our own drawing office where our technical draughtsmen will produce your plans to the highest standards and specifications. Our experts give due consideration to all the requirements of the regulations in the preparation of the plans, as well as monitoring the construction during the course of the work, thus ensuring they receive a completion certificate upon final completion of the conversion.

What are The Building Regulations 2010?

These are legal requirements aimed at achieving adequate standards of building work within the new construction. These requirements are specified in separate ‘documents’ as part of the regulations, containing practical and technical guidance. They are known as ‘Approved Documents’ which cover different aspects of construction e.g. Part A (Structure), Part B (Fire Safety), Part L (Conservation of fuel and power) each to secure the health and safety of people in or about the building.

You are required to achieve compliance with the Building Regulations when considering a loft conversion, the proposed conversion will involve changes to the structure of the building, fire safety, sound and thermal insulation as well as adequate light and ventilation and finally a satisfactory access via the new staircase.

Who sorts out all the paperwork?

Econoloft construct all its conversions under the Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 2010 where an approved inspector will check our plans and make all necessary inspections of your proposed building work to ensure that it complies with the Building Regulations. The inspector will notify the local authority on your behalf about the intended building work. This is known as the initial notice. When satisfied that the building work complies with the Building Regulations, the approved inspector will issue plans certificate.

Upon completion of the work, the approved inspector will issue what is known as the final certificate to the local authority, confirming that the work in the initial notice is complete and that the inspector is satisfied that it complies with the Building Regulations requirements. A final notice will not be issued until the inspector is satisfied that the completed work fully complies with the Building Regulations.

Planning for Loft Conversion

Are all properties suitable for a loft conversion?

No, although the Building Regulations do not specify a minimum height requirement for new rooms, one has to consider the practicality for the use of the proposed room. Minimum headroom is a requirement over the new staircase and this is often the governing factor when considering a loft conversion. We at Econoloft advise that you require a min height of 2.3m (7ft 6) from the top of the existing ceiling joists to the bottom of the existing ridge board. Econoloft offer a FREE feasibility study to potential customers. This involves a visit from one of our surveyors local to yourselves. Ring our freephone number 0800 269 765 to arrange a visit.

What will the sales designer do during the appointment?

The appointment will take approximately 1 hour, during that time he/she will spend time discussing with you your requirements, offer advice and answer any questions you may have. The surveyor will measure your loft area and therefore, be able to advise you as to the estimated size of your conversion.

Can you convert modern truss rafter lofts?

Yes, over 50% of our conversions have trussed roofs.

My house is timber framed can you convert the loft?

No, sorry this is not the type of conversion we undertake.

Are there different types of Loft Conversions?

Yes. Go to Loft Types to find out more.  Our experienced surveyor will recommend the most appropriate loft type for your property and your needs.

What guarantees does Econoloft offer?

12 months on installed equipment e.g. plumbing & at least 5 years on the general build, 10 years on Velux windows, at least 25 years on fibreglass roofs.

Is Econoloft a member of any industry bodies?

Yes, we are members of TrustMark, the Federation of Master Builders, FairTrades, Guild of Master Craftsmen and the League of Professional Craftsmen.

What insurance do you have to carry out the work on my property?

Both Econoloft and our contractors have public liability insurance.

Do you carry out conversions anywhere in the UK?

Most of our conversions are carried out in the South of England, however we do work in most parts of England and Wales.

How much experience do you have?

We have been in business for over 40 years and over that time have carried out thousands of loft conversion on properties of all types and sizes.

Who will liaise with the necessary government bodies?

We will do all that on your behalf.

Who supervises the work?

We have qualified supervisor who visits each site during the conversion.

Can I see some completed conversions?

Yes of course. We have numerous images on our website and our surveyor will also have lots of loft images for you to look at. We have numerous customers who are happy to show potential customers their completed loft conversion (depending on where you live). Just ask and we will be happy to provide you with the information you require.

Loft Conversion Cost

What is the starting price?

As a rough guide a Dormer conversion can start at £26,000 and a Velux™ conversion at £18,000 however, all our loft conversions are bespoke and designed to meet the needs of the homeowner and the structure of the property which means prices will vary.

We offer a free, no obligation visit where our surveyor will provide a full price once he/she has discussed the best type of loft conversion for you and your property.  Our surveyors are not salesmen so please be assured there is no pushy sales patter. You either want an Econoloft loft conversion or you don’t.

How do most people fund a loft conversion?

Most banks and building societies will provide loans for home improvements like this providing you can prove you are using a reputable company. Other customers release equity or pay for it out of their savings.

Does Econoloft offer funding - or can you advise on getting funding for the project?

No, although we have contacts with mortgage advisors if required.

How much will my total loft conversion cost?

Each conversion is individual to your property and requirements; the cost will vary accordingly. Econoloft has the experience of completing literally thousands of conversions. This experience allows us to accurately cost your conversion. Our surveyor will be able to quote for the work you require.

What is covered in the price?

You will receive a comprehensive quote which itemises what your individual loft conversion includes, but as a general rule a full conversion quote will include:

  • Technical survey
  • Design and full working drawings complying to building regulations
  • Structural calculations
  • Planning permission if necessary
  • All submissions to local authorities
  • Full structure inc. floor, stairs, windows, supports, walls
  • Insulation
  • Skirting, doors, architraves etc.
  • Electrics and plumbing as required
  • Plaster finish and ready to decorate

What is not covered in the price?

Things that may hike up the price could be whether or not you need to move the boiler and of course the spec you want. For example, in period homes customers will want specialist joiners to replicate their existing hand carved spindles and newels in the new staircase. Or, customers may ask for a Juliet balcony instead of a Standard UPVC window, chimney removal or Party Wall agreements can add to the costs.

What if I want to do some of the work myself?

Econoloft are also able to offer a shell conversion to our clients, therefore we are able to do as much or as little of the work as you require.

Will a loft conversion add value to my home?

We can’t guarantee this because obviously property values depend on many external influences beyond our control and the house prices where you live. However, what we can say is that our customers tell us their loft conversion has at the very least paid for itself and the majority believe it has added considerable value to their home. In addition, most property experts agree that a well-built loft conversion is the best way to add pounds to your home. Here are some independent press articles so you can make your own decision on this issue:

In addition, our customers tell us that its often cheaper to improve rather than move and it’s less stressful.

Some estate agents say it can cost as much as £100,000 in Greater London and the Home Counties to move to a house with an additional bedroom.

Adding extra space with a loft conversion means your valuable garden remains intact.

Adding space with a loft conversion is considerably cheaper than an extension.

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