Now's the time to make the most of the space you have in your existing home - and converting the loft is the best way to do it.
At its most basic, a loft conversion can be a quiet place to set up your Hornby model railway, with a flip-down ladder for access and simple Velux windows. But a temporary staircase means it won't count as extra living space when you come to sell, so generally it's a mistake to do it on the cheap. Getting a specialist company or an architect on board will give you the best end result, whether you want the space to flow seamlessly on from the rest of the house or you just want to make a statement with a light-filled studio.
If the last time you looked in your loft was to bung in a few surplus boxes when you first moved in, it's time to grab a torch and find out what you've got. You must be realistic about the possibilities. Take a tape measure and note the ceiling height - it needs to be no less than 2.3 metres to give enough headroom.
The steeper the slope (or pitch) of the roof, the more suitable it will be for conversion. If your roof has a very steep pitch you may be able to squeeze in a mezzanine level.
Dormer windows extend out of the original roof and are a way of adding headroom. They can be the size of a single window or they can span a sizeable chunk of the roof and contain two or more windows. It's also possible to extend to the side from a hipped roof - in other words build out from the sloped side of the roof to make the edge flush with the exterior wall. Pay attention to the exterior of the dormer - make sure it won't stand out like a sore thumb in your street, either because it's too big, out of place, or because the tiles and brickwork don't match.
Whether you're employing an architect or not, here are some questions to consider at planning stage - they'll save you time and money later:
How much extra will it cost to add an extra bathroom in your loft, and how will it compromise the bedroom's proportions? Will your system cope with the extra pressure needed to feed hot and cold water up an extra floor?
How do the proportions of the new room work? Will a double bed fit in - and if so, where? Is there enough head height on both sides of the bed to make getting in and out comfortable?
Have you considered where electrical points will go? If you plan this before building works start (ie, sockets either side of where a bed would sit), you will save time and money in the long run.
Have you got a party wall agreement with your neighbours?
Have you got built-in storage in the new room? Where will you put what's in there now?
How sound-proofed is the new room? Will you be able to hear noise from the room below - and will the room below suffer from noise above?
Is there enough light?
How will you heat the room? Is your current boiler big enough to cope with extra radiators?
Will it be well enough insulated and ventilated?
Be inspired to create your perfect home...