Loft ConversionsLoft conversions are a relatively quick and inexpensive way to add living space to your home and increase its value. With a loft conversion, you take the existing loft or attic space, clean it up (at a minimum), perhaps add some lighting, electrical or plumbing, and open up your new space.
One huge advantage to a loft conversion is you're not building on to your house. You're not changing the footprint or creating an odd-looking addition. You're simply utilising space that's already in your home, but doing so in a creative, aesthetically pleasing way. Loft conversions also create wonderful possibilities, because the formerly unused space can turn into anything you wish: bedroom, office, guest quarters, entertainment centre, playroom, or more.
Before actually working on the room though, check out your local building regulations. It's likely you'll need permission before cutting through that wall or wiring new lights. Remember, the loft area is likely to contain structures that support the roof, and cutting through one of those could be very, very bad—not to mention costly.
The authorities will likely want at least a sketch of your plans, so be sure to detail your vision. Include room dimensions, show window and electrical placement, and show supporting structures like trusses. If you can locate the original plans to your home through the local authorities, that will make your job much easier, but a detailed plan that you draw yourself can often suffice. And remember, computer software is available to help if even a stick person is beyond your drawing skills.
Be sure to check the electrical load your new space will draw and that your existing electrical service can handle it. Blowing the lights in your entire house when you turn on the entertainment system in your loft conversion will not impress the rest of the family! The cost of new electrical services may put a damper on your plans, so be sure to consider that when planning.
Once you know you have the power, think about how the space will be used. Do you want an office area? You'll need to run a phone line at a minimum, perhaps a high-speed connection for Internet access. You may need more than one if you want a dedicated fax machine, as well.
How about physical access? Loft conversions are located by definition in a loft. That means you need easy ingress and egress. An elevator will be prohibitively expensive. Stairs? A ladder? What can you afford that will allow the people who need to use the space, access to it? A 60-year-old is probably not going to be keen on climbing a ladder, where a 12-year-old would relish it.
Décor can be as simple as a fresh coat of paint and a carpet remnant, or as involved as professional decorating. If you'll be inviting company into the space, consider spending some money on how it looks. If your loft conversion will be some much-needed study space for your child, you can probably get by with a little less. Lighting is a critical décor consideration in any space, but especially in a loft conversion. Rooms under the eaves can seem small in the best of cases; inadequate lighting makes them positively claustrophobic.
Plan your loft conversion carefully, and you could create a bright new living space almost out of thin air!