5 mistakes people make when planning a loft conversion

When you need more space a loft conversion can be the answer to all your prayers. It’s also a big investment, so it’s essential to make sure the job is done right. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make... so you can plan to avoid them!

1. Not checking that your property is suitable for a loft conversion

Before you rush into your project, check that your property meets the minimum requirements for a conversion to be a possibility. “You need a minimum head height of 2.3 metres for a loft conversion,” says Daniel Moore of DJ Moore Lofts, loft conversion specialists and VELUX certified installers based in Milton Keynes. “There are options to raise the height in some cases, but for a standard loft at least 2.3 metres is needed.”

[Related: Read more about types of loft conversion]

2. Not choosing the right contractor

A loft conversion is a specialist project, so when looking for a contractor make sure they are loft conversion specialists. A good first port of call is personal recommendations or community Facebook groups, where people offer honest opinions about their experiences. Daniel Moore recommends not just looking at a contractors website but also checking reviews on independent websites like MyBuilder, Trustpilot and Facebook.

Once you start contacting builders, ask them for references, for examples of recently completed projects, and check online reviews. Get multiple quotes - the right contractor may not necessarily be the cheapest.

“Loft conversions range from three weeks to six weeks, so you need to be comfortable with having people in your home over a long period,” says Moore. “You're going to see them near enough daily, so you want to work with someone approachable and friendly. You need clear lines of communication, so you don’t feel any hesitation asking questions throughout the build.”

3. Assuming planning permission isn’t needed

In most cases planning permission is not required for a loft conversion as it falls under the category of permitted development - one of the most appealing reasons for doing a conversion! However, make sure you check first and don’t assume.

For example, if your conversion plan involves extending or altering the roof space in a manner that exceeds specified limits and conditions, you will need full planning permission. It’s essential to get in touch with your local council and check if you need to apply. This is especially important if you live in a period property, flat, or in conservation area. The UK Government website also has further guidance on permitted development.

4. Ignoring the neighbours

Do you live in a semi-detached or terraced property? The wall you share with your neighbour is called the party wall, and you must tell your neighbours that you plan to do a loft conversion then get a legally valid Party Wall Agreement in place before building work can start.

The neighbour has the right to dispute the extension, so communicate clearly and get the Party Wall Agreement sorted promptly to avoid issues and delays.

5. Not thinking about design details

“This is where it’s so important to hire a loft conversion specialist,” says Moore. “We have the experience to know the little details to consider right at the start of the project to make sure you’ll be delighted with the results. 

“We stage our work so once the initial construction is complete, we get the client into the room so they can see how the room is going to be," Moore explains, "Then we can make decisions on the finer details.”

Consider how you will use the loft space on a daily basis. For loft bathrooms, don’t forget extractor fans to clear the air quickly after a shower, and install adequate lighting so you can get ready on a gloomy winter’s day. Do you need a shaver socket so you can use that shaver or electric toothbrush?

For bedrooms, as well as using roof windows to create plenty of natural light, think about lighting for nighttime. 

“When you're tucked up in bed, you're not going to want overhead lights blazing,” says Moore, “So consider installing small reading lights on either side of the bed. This also means one person can stay up reading without disturbing a sleeping partner."

Storage and furniture are also essential considerations when deciding where to position windows. Make sure you allow enough wall space for your furniture, particularly wardrobes.

“It’s the seemingly silly little things that can cause the most irritation later on,” says Moore. “Where will you want to plug in lamps? Where will the TV go?

"Make sure you install switches and sockets in the right places. For example, a beside switch that lets you turn off bedroom lights from the comfort of your bed may sound indulgent when you’re planning your conversion, but it’s cost-effective and easy to install at the time of construction. You don’t want regrets a year down the line when you’re cosy in bed and wishing you didn’t have to get out to switch the light off!

“It’s all about forward thinking”, Moore concludes. “If you’re realistic and smart with your decisions in the planning stages, you’ll end up with a loft that you love."

Want more inspiration? Read more articles about loft conversion planning and ideas. 

New Nordic: Interior trends for Scandinavian style

latest articles