Design Approaches to Get the Best From Your Loft Space

Nearly all two storey suburban homes in the country have lofts which are not really utilised by their owners. You might just have hatch in the ceiling to get in and only use your loft for some long-term storage. Many homeowners don't even know what they have got stored in their loft space and they could even be keeping things that the previous occupant put there years ago.

Instead of using your loft as a convenient storage solution, why not convert it into something that is truly part of your home? Loft conversions are often much cheaper than extensions and they can add plenty of value to your property. What design ideas should you be considering when weighing up the benefits of using your loft for an extra room? 

Access Issues

Unless you have a large landing where you can install a new staircase to the new upper storey room, access to the loft will need some compromise in one of the home's bedrooms. Don't rely on a pull down set of steps if you want to use the room regularly – a proper set of stairs with a staircase balustrade are infinitely preferable. With limited room, you may need to turn the stairs through ninety degrees or even install a spiral staircase in order to fit in proper access.

Fire and Safety

Bear in mind that fire regulations may need you to install a fire door or to box in your new access point to the loft. In order to prevent fires spreading to a loft space, it may be a requirement of the state authorities to create a physical barrier between the rest of the home and the loft. Fire retardant materials should be used throughout, including any insulating material you use to clad the loft.

Structural Reinforcements 

It is not a given that your loft space can be used as an extra room without some structural work. Heavy items like beds, which you might want to take up to the loft, may need additional reinforcements in the beams of your home. If you are using the loft to create a new bathroom, then remember that baths weigh a great deal when they are filled up so you might need some extra strength in this part of the room to bear their considerable weight.

Natural Light

Lofts are not designed as ordinary rooms are, so consider the glazing you might want before you start any conversion process. Skylights that are installed directly into the roof line are among the cheapest solutions. However, fitting dormer windows will allow some additional head space and are preferable if you have a nice view to look out on. For homes that are overlooked by neighbouring buildings, then it is advisable to fit light pipes which allow natural sunlight in but without compromising on privacy.