Converting Your Loft In A Terraced House

Everything You Need To Know About Converting Your Loft In A Terraced House

A row of modern terraced houses with coloured front doors

Streets around the UK are lined with Edwardian, Georgian and Victorian terraced houses that provide hidden home space behind brick facades and urban living aesthetics. Most terraced houses are two-storey, some with basements, and almost all have a loft space. Converting the loft in a terraced home can provide more living space and increase the property’s value, but it’s not always an easy task as these structure types throw up some specific challenges. 
Here, Refresh Renovations experts talk through the considerations homeowners need to make when converting their loft, specifically in a terraced home – a must read before any plans are conceived or any work committed to.
A row of terraced properties

How common are loft conversions in terraced houses?

The conversion of lofts to living spaces in terraced houses is much more popular than many may realise; because often they’re hidden behind closed doors with no visible window additions to the front of the property. As terraced homes share a party wall on both sides, which in most cases is structural, the lofts are easy to convert – re-structuring the space can be done to open the room with minimal work involved. What’s more, the steep roof pitch so popular with many terraces means that they’re often plenty large enough for a full conversion because the head room is so plentiful.

What Buildings Regulations must be met with a terraced house loft conversion?

To meet Buildings Regulations, a loft conversion in a terrace must have an escape route that is considered ‘sufficient’ by the local authority – for people to swiftly leave in the event of fire or other emergency. While the exact acceptable method of this will vary between property and authority, it is not uncommon for homeowners to have to erect new partition walls in their front room to create an entrance hall and/or landing for safer passage.
A terraced loft space converted to a new bedroom

Do I need Planning Permission to convert the loft in my terrace?

Providing the loft conversion meets set criteria, there is no requirement for the homeowner to apply for Planning Permission. This criteria includes:
- The home must not be listed or situated in a conservation area or AONB
- The conversion must add no more than 40 cubic metres to the property
- The conversion can not extend beyond the roof’s existing height 
- The conversion can not extend beyond the roof’s existing slope on its principal elevation.
If the loft conversion meets these guidelines, it can be completed under the homeowners’ Permitted Development Rights, with no need for formal Planning Permission from the local authority. 

Do I need to issue Party Wall Notices?

In the event of a loft conversion in a terraced house, a Party Wall Notice will need to be issued to neighbours on both sides as there will usually be structural changes made (even if minor) to the party walls in the loft. Neighbours must be issued with a Party Wall Notice at least two months before any work commences and these must be completed in writing, with any further arrangements reached also recorded and written. 

Where should the stairs go?

The best case scenario for locating stairs in to a loft conversion is directly above the existing staircase from the floor below and in a matching aesthetic, but this is not always practical. If this won’t work, a new loft staircase at a right angle to the existing staircase may be possible (particularly in narrower properties) in an alternating tread stairs or fixed ladder style. Loft stairs can also be installed with turns at strategic points to ensure the emergence of those entering the space is at the appropriate head height and won’t impact negatively on practical entry.

My loft has a boiler in it. Can I still convert it?

Many terraced houses still have boilers, water tanks and/or pipework in their loft spaces – even if a new boiler has been installed elsewhere in the house since to remove it. As dismantlement and removal is tricky through a hatch door and lofts are often un- or under-used, it’s usually easier to leave these things in place and worry about disposal at a later date. 
The deinstallation, removal and disposal process does fall under the responsibility of the homeowner looking to convert the loft, but this can be factored into the plans and taken care of by the renovation project manager.
A work person insulating a new living space

How much does a loft conversion cost for a terraced house?

Every property project varies on exact cost due to the size and scope of the conversion; and in the case of terraced houses, there are often additional specific considerations unique to the building to bear in mind. Exactly what the new space will be used for will also dictate the amount you can expect to pay – bathrooms will require additional plumbing for example, which will come with an associated fee, whereas storage spaces may require minimal intervention. 
Generally speaking, a loft conversion on a terrace to be a straightforward double bedroom will cost between £17,000 - £25,000.

Can I have a dormer or mansard conversion in a terraced house?

Both dormer and mansard loft conversions are achievable in terraced houses, with the former being the most popular. Dormer increases the amount of floorspace while including useful headroom and allows for the inclusion of vertical windows for views out to the garden. These are particularly popular with bedroom loft conversions, as they have the ability to free up enough space to then incorporate an en-suite. Mansard lofts essentially add a whole extra storey to the home, running from one gale wall to the other but does involve changing the roof slope structure; making it almost vertical at 72 degrees. This is a larger scale job but remains a favourite amongst homeowners who really need more space without the need for relocation.

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You may not have considered converting your terraced home loft before but if not now, when? Refresh has all the tools and expertise to transform your attic space – so get in touch!

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