How Contractors Determine If a Loft Can Be Converted

If your family is growing and you’re running out of room in your house, consider converting the loft before going house hunting. A loft can be converted into a bedroom for your oldest child, a playroom, or an office to free up space for a new family addition. However, a loft has to be suitable for conversion before construction can begin.

Checking Suitability

Before a loft conversion can begin, the loft needs to be evaluated to make sure that it is suitable for conversion. The features that will determine whether the loft can be converted are:

  • Head height
  • Pitch
  • Roof structure
  • Obstacles such as chimneys or water tanks

A loft conversion company in Harrogate can evaluate your loft to find out if it can be converted into additional space for your family.

Measuring Head Height

Measurements for the height of the loft will be taken from the bottom of the ridge timber to the top of the ceiling joist. It should measure at least 2.2 metres but Building Regulations do not require minimum ceiling heights and may relax the necessary height to 1.9 or 1.8 metres. If you’re concerned about available headroom in the loft and you’ve hired a contractor to do the conversion, have him or her demonstrate how he or she intends to work with the available head height.

Pitch Angle

If the loft has a high pitch angle, there will be more head room, which can help determine how the loft can be utilised. If the pitch angle is insufficient, your contractor may be able to use dormers or reconfigure the roof to add more head space and floor space. However, if the roof needs to be changed, that will make the conversion more expensive, which is something that you should carefully consider for feasibility.

Evaluating Roof Structures

The two main types of roof structures in houses are the traditional framed type and truss section structures. Traditional framed roofs are usually found on houses built prior to the 1960s. The rafters, joists, and support timbers were usually cut on site and then the structure was put together. This type of roof structure offers more structural integrity so it is more suitable for conversions because the supporting timbers and rafters can be easily strengthened.

Truss section roof structures were used in homes built in the 1960s and afterward. They are made in the factory so thinner, less expensive timbers are used. Although they have structural integrity due to support from additional braced timbers, the use of this type of truss could mean that the floor may not have load bearing abilities. The contractor would need to add steel beams to convert the loft into usable space, which again adds to the cost of the conversion.

Obstacles in Loft

While a chimney stack would need to be worked around during the conversion, if there is a water tank in the loft, it may need to be removed and replaced with a sealed system. A contractor can advise you on the loft’s suitability after evaluating it and provide estimates for doing the work.