Converting an attic into a loft is a clever way to expand your living space. Depending on your needs, you can turn your loft into a study room, a home office, or even a personal library. But before you get too excited, you need to plan your loft renovation carefully.
In this guide, we’ll tell you the dos and don’ts of converting your attic. We’ll also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the matter.
Is your house suitable for a loft renovation?
First of all, you need to figure out if your house is suitable for a loft renovation. Houses with roof pitches of around 30 degrees are ideal for this development. If your roof has a low angle, then you might not get enough clearance to build a habitable space inside your attic.
You should also check if your roof contains rafters or trusses. Rafters run parallel to the edge of the roof and will leave the attic space empty. Meanwhile, trusses run perpendicular to the loft. You’ll need to add structural support before you can remove these trusses.
Some builders can increase the height of your roof, but it will be done at a significant cost. If you’re already planning to replace your roof, however, you can consider this option.
What are the types of lofts?
Depending on the available space and your budget, you may pick from the following:
- Roof light loft: Roof light lofts are the simplest and least expensive ones to build. Construction work typically involves adding a skylight, reinforcing the floor, adding stairs, and fitting insulation, heating, and lighting.
- Dormer loft: Due to the addition of a dormer window, dormer lofts have taller ceiling heights and greater floor space compared to roof light lofts.
- Hip-to-gable loft: To build this type of loft, a section of the slanted roof will be converted into a vertical wall. This creates more space inside and also allows more space to add windows.
- Mansard loft: A mansard loft renovation is more like an addition rather than a conversion. It involves adding a new storey at the top of your home with a flat roof.
Dos and don’ts of loft renovation
Do: follow building codes for your loft renovation
The Australian Building Code requires that 60% of the area meets a 2.2-metre height clearance. Moreover, the floor of the attic needs to have at least 150kg/per square metre load-bearing capacity to withstand the weight of people and furniture.
Aside from these, you need to install a permanent staircase before the loft can be considered habitable. While a staircase takes up more space compared to a ladder, it’s a lot easier to climb. When designing a staircase, you’ll need at least 2 metres of headroom at every step.
A skilled building designer should help you design a room that meets these requirements, while also converting the attic to your liking. They may also coordinate with structural engineers to get their plans approved.
Note: In case you’re just planning to convert your attic into additional storage space, you will not have to worry about height or staircase requirements. However, you still need to consult a professional to ensure that the attic can bear the load of heavy items.
Don’t: forget about bathroom access during loft renovation
If you’re converting your loft into a home office or a study room, then you need to consider bathroom access. In some cases, you may need to build a half bath in the loft. As always, work with a professional to ensure that the electrical cabling and plumbing that will run through your ceiling is safe and up to code.
Do: consider insulation, lighting, and ventilation
In order for your loft to be a comfortable and livable space, you need to consider the following:
Insulation: Proper insulation will help ensure that the loft stays within a comfortable temperature.
Lighting and ventilation: Adequate lighting and ventilation are a must. Nobody wants to study or work in a dark and daft attic. Consider installing skylights or dormer windows so you can let in plenty of natural light while also keeping the room well-ventilated.
Don’t: forget to prepare a contingency fund for loft renovation
Preparing a contingency fund is necessary for all renovation projects, but it’s especially important for loft conversions. You might run into unexpected issues, like unstable attic flooring, low ceiling heights, and design changes. Set aside about 10% of your construction budget for contingencies.
Do: inform your insurance company
It’s wise to inform your house insurance company that you added an extra bedroom or living space. They may need to adjust your policy coverage, if necessary.
Don’t: assume that the loft renovation will not cause disruptions
Many homeowners don’t anticipate how much a loft renovation project will affect their daily lives because most of the construction work will take place upstairs. However, you might still encounter some plumbing and electrical disruptions. You’ll also have builders going in and out of your house for about six weeks or more. Make sure you’re fully prepared for how this will affect your family’s daily routine.
8 inspiring loft renovation ideas
1. New master suite
To make the most out of your unused attic, convert it into a master suite. Since the attic covers a wide floor area, you’ll have enough space for a bedroom, a walk-in wardrobe, and an ensuite bathroom.
2. Connect it to a roof terrace
Turn your attic into the ultimate entertaining space by connecting it to the roof terrace. This way, you can host cool indoor-outdoor parties on your roof.
3. Build a private sanctuary
If you don’t have enough space in your main house for an expansive spa bathroom, converting your attic may do the trick. This will give you enough space to have a soaking tub or double basins.
4. Create a reading nook
Placing chairs under skylights give you an ideal place to read books without interruptions.
5. Build a small apartment
If you have the space and the budget, you can convert your attic into a mini-apartment. This can turn into an excellent guestroom or investment property.
6. Create a home office
Converting your attic into a modern home office gives you a quiet and private area to work without having to take space from your main house.
7. Opt for a daybed
Can’t decide whether you want an extra bedroom or a living room? Adding a daybed may be the solution. This gives you a comfortable space to take a nap without adding a new bed.
8. Convert the attic into a child’s bedroom
If your main house lacks enough room for your kids, you can start utilising your attic space. In their loft bedroom, they’ll have plenty of space to sleep and study.
How much will a loft renovation cost?
Loft renovations usually start at $40,000*. The cost depends on the size of the space, the materials you choose, and the modifications needed to meet building code requirements.
To get a clear idea of how much the build will cost, ask us for a free quote. We can also help you find a skilled building designer who can help you plan a stylish and structurally sound loft.
*Rates are only rough estimates.
Do you need council approval for loft renovation?
In Australia, you will need building permission to build a room in your attic. However, if you’re just building storage space with a ladder, then you will likely not need council approval.
Working with a skilled building designer will ensure that your attic will meet the local council requirements and comply with the building code. If your house is covered by a heritage overlay, you may also need to obtain planning permission.
Start your loft renovation project now
Doing a loft renovation comes with plenty of benefits: it can expand your living space and also increase the value of your home. You can use the area as an extra bathroom, a new master suite, or a home office – it’s up to you!
To ensure a hassle-free renovation experience, sign up for Dreamspace. Using our free platform, you can:
- Find qualified building designers to plan your loft conversion
- Get help obtaining council approval for your renovation
- Have your plans approved by a skilled engineer
- Visualise your loft design using 3D technology
- Manage your project online