Building a terraced house loft conversion can be a pain due to a few very specific issues to that type of property.
In this blog post we’re gonna cover the top 5 mistakes made when building a terraced house loft conversion that we have come across over the last 20 years or so.
And we show you HOW TO AVOID THEM.
After this article you’ll be able to convert your loft in a STRESS & HASSLE FREE MANNER with no expensive pitfalls happening on the job.
But before we dive in did you know that fishing boats in Japan have a lot in common with terraced house loft conversions?!
Japanese Fishing & Terraced House Loft Conversions?!
The Japanese love fresh fish.
However, the waters close to Japan have not held many fish for decades. So to feed the Japanese population, fishing boats got bigger and went farther than ever.
The farther the fishermen went, the longer it took to bring in the fish. If the return trip took more than a few days, the fish were not fresh.
The Japanese did not like the taste.
To solve this problem, fishing companies installed freezers on their boats. They would catch the fish and freeze them at sea. Freezers allowed the boats to go farther and stay longer.
However, the Japanese could taste the difference between fresh and frozen and they did not like frozen fish.
The frozen fish brought a lower price.
So fishing companies installed fish tanks. They would catch the fish and stuff them in the tanks, fin to fin. After a little thrashing around, the fish stopped moving. They were tired and dull, but alive.
Unfortunately, the Japanese could still taste the difference.
Because the fish did not move for days, they lost their fresh-fish taste.
The Japanese preferred the lively taste of fresh fish, not sluggish fish.
So how did Japanese fishing companies solve this problem?
How do they get fresh-tasting fish to Japan?
If you were consulting the fish industry, what would you recommend?
To keep the fish tasting fresh, the Japanese fishing companies still put the fish in the tanks.
But now they add a small shark to each tank.
The shark eats a few fish, but most of the fish arrive in a very lively state.
So what we are looking at here is a specific solution to a specific problem.
And the same goes for terraced house loft conversions.
There are specific problems that only apply to a terraced house loft conversion and a specific solution for each.
Unfortunately most people never address these problems and make the mistake of committing them time & time again.
We’re going to go through the top 5 and how you can avoid them.
So let’s get started.
1) Prioritising Quantity Over Quality
Avoid estate agent thinking and prioritising quantity over quality – you need a balance between the 2.
Most people approach loft conversions with resale value in mind and it is important as you don’t want to over capitalise on your investment.
But that shouldn’t come at the expense of comfort, personality or character.
Your house should be designed to suit your family’s needs as well as your own aspirations.
The usual dilemma is whether to include one or two bedrooms in the loft & to some extent the answer to this will depend on where your house is located.
In London the value of a property is driven by the number of bedrooms, regardless of how pokey they might be.
The issue here is that you will be essentially creating a home that will look good on an estate agents’ marketing material, rather than one that you and your family will enjoy spending time in.
I have seen too many terraced house loft conversion projects with tiny ensuite showers you can hardly stand up in, or pokey bedrooms with no room for a wardrobe or any space to move around the bed.
So a balance must be met so you maximise your investment as well as improve the quality of living for you & your family in your home.
2) Not Checking That Your Loft Is Suitable For Converting To Start With
This one is a biggie.
Not all terraced house roofs are created equal.
There are 2 types of roof in terraced houses:
- Cut Timber Roof
- Trussed roof
Cut timber roofs are usually easy enough to convert whereas truss roofs are a real pain and often require total roof replacement which is extremely expensive.
I’ve seen many people make the mistake of assuming their loft is easily converted only to get a big bill for a new roof!!
Here are a few simple rules of thumb for finding out if it’s a waste of money to convert your loft:
- You have little head room when you stand in the highest part of your attic
- You will end up with far too many bedrooms relative to the number of bathrooms in the house
- You need the loft for storage and there is nowhere else to put it
However we go into how to check if your loft is worth converting in more detail in this blog post: Loft Check
3) Not Appreciating The Impact On The Floor Below
A major mistake that happens quite frequently is getting the stairs access wrong into a terraced house loft conversion.
More often than not lofts get finished and only then do people realise that the stairs takes up a big part of the loft and drastically reduces the space in the floor below.
Getting the stairs in the right location is a major design consideration.
There’s a 2-fold twist to this one: you want to make sure the ascent into the loft is a comfortable one and at the same time minimise its effect on the floor below.
Here’s where we usually recommend you put your stairs:
It’s placed off to the side where it has impeaches minimally on the loft space and the floor below.
Also locate the stairs in the same area as the stairs below.
Also make sure that the staircase can accommodate furniture being brought up to the loft.
Most modern furniture is designed with standard staircases in mind so you want to be at very least compliant with that.
Older antique furniture hasn’t been designed with this in mind so may not fit so check this out early if this applies to you and not when the loft is done!
4) Not Constructing A Rear Dormer
A picture of a rear dormer is there to your right.
A rear dormer completely transforms your loft space from something that can be quite pokey into an airy fantastic space to be in.
You can get a tonne of natural light in to the space too and it’s the difference that makes all the difference.
Now this might be a stickler with the planners but if your neighbours have one then that’s a good sign.
However you might also get away with building a dormer under your permitted development right which means you don’t require planning permission.
Rear dormers are permitted under your PD rights but front dormers, i.e. dormers facing the front of the house aren’t and are very tough to get through planning if not impossible.
If you can go with a full width rear dormer with a full width window and you’ll end up with the brightest room in the house!
You can find more info about planning permission & your PD rights here: Planning Guide
5) Not Considering A Second Floor Extension To Extend The Loft Space
There’s an abundance of space just sitting there waiting to be extended and that’s out the back of your house on top of your first/second floor.
Essentially you are adding a floor on top of the rear of your house and this is then linked to the main loft.
This does require planning permission and may be tricky to get it through the planners due to right to light concerns of your neighbours, it really depends where you live.
If you can get planning for one then the thing to keep in mind is that you need the foundations to the rear of your house checked to make sure they can take the extra weight of the extension.
If they aren’t up to the job this work will be expensive as you then underpin your house which basically means pouring new foundations under your existing ones.
So there you have the 5 biggest mistakes people make with terraced house loft conversions.
Thanks for checking our Loft Conversion post! If you have any questions then just pop them into the comments section below.
Want To Know How Much Your Loft Conversion Will Cost?
The most common question we get on this site and from our clients is “how do I get a ball park figure for my building work so I have an idea on how much it will cost me before I start?”
And there hasn’t really been an easy answer to that…
Well if the question above also applies to you then you need to check out our Ultimate Loft Conversion Pricing Toolkit.
Basically we’ve tried every costing tool both offline & online and we’ve put together this toolkit which shows you how to use what we consider the best 3 free online costing tools that exist for the UK market.
We break down each one and give you step-by-step instructions on how to use them and you’ll be shocked with how ridiculously easy to use they are.
We’ll also show you what info you need to fill them out and how to get this info if you don’t have it, again it’s really simple to do.
This is the best resource on the big bad interwebs for getting a pretty good ballpark figure for your loft conversion.
And the best part is that you can do it all online, there’s no calling anyone or booking an appointment or being hounded by sales people!
- Discover the 3 free & super-simple online costing tools made for loft conversions
- Get an accurate cost for your potential loft conversion in 5 minutes or less, yes it’s really that fast!
- Make sure you don’t get over-priced and ripped off by builders on your dream loft
And this is just a sample!
So to find out more all you have to do is click the link below: