Buying a house for a loft conversion
Each week City Lofts receives 2-3 calls from folk looking to buy a property specifically with a view to converting the loft.
The burning question is, can the loft on the property I want to buy be converted?
For investors wanting to develop and flip, the answer to this question determines how profitable a deal might be. For homeowners, it represents the difference between buying and adding space (and value) to a more affordable home, or buying a bigger more expensive property with the space they crave already available.
If this describes you, you’re in luck. We have complied this simplified 13-point checklist of things to look out for when viewing properties that will help inform you on just how feasible it is to carry out a loft conversion:
- Head height. Look for a minimum clearance of 2350mm from the top of the ceiling joist to the underside of the ridge board.
- Size of ceiling joists. In case the construction method demands side-slung steel beam, note down the depth of the ceiling joists within the loft void.
- Roof type. Is it cut or truss style? The latter will require the roof to be rebuilt from scratch.
- Internal load bearing walls. Are there any load bearing internal walls, if so where are they and how thick are they? Loft construction many demand load to be spread through them.
- Any through lounges downstairs. If any walls have been knocked through on the lower floors, note where, and if possible determine the structural opening method used to support the opening.
- Ground floor open plan. If the stairs open into a habitable room, it is likely remedial measures will be required in order to meet building regulations part B.
- Identify the Heating system. Combi or unvented systems are OK (unless the cylinder/boiler are located within the loft void), but gravity fed systems will need to be modified prior to converting the loft.
- Stairs position. Make a sketch of the top floor and mark on where the loft stairs will most likely be cut in. This will usually be over the existing stairwell.
- Cubic volume of any existing extensions. Note down the presence of any double storey extensions. If they have a pitched roof, estimate the cubic size as this will later determine the planning route your scheme qualifies for.
- Visual defects. Look out for obvious structural red flags. In particular evidence of subsidence and if any chimney breasts have been removed without adequate structural bracing.
- Obstacles in roof. Take a note of obvious obstacles that will need to move prior to the loft being built; things like tanks, shower pumps, AV equipment et al.
- Evidence of protected species. Unlikely as it sounds, the presence of bats in the loft will put a stop to your lofty ambitions. They are a protected species and their habitat cannot be disturbed.
- Precedents. Lastly walk up and down the street looking at houses similar to the one you are viewing, and see if any have already converted their lofts. This will give the Architect a good starting point during the design and planning phase of your build.
Now if the property you are considering is a flat or maisonette, be aware that a full planning application will most likely be required. This comes with strict sizing protocols for the planning department that must be adhered to. In addition to the above checklist, you will need to be familiar with leasehold specific considerations. Read about them here.
So these are the basics you need to know when viewing properties with a view to converting the loft. There is myriad of technical building regulations that will also factor in, but you wouldn’t be expected to know about them.
Need more help?
If you would like a little more help, we can do the hard work for you. One of our Surveyors can carry out a feasibility site survey £199 £147, and you will have the answers you seek.
Contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org / 0845 519 4321