Planning our loft conversion
January 8, 2023
So, after 12 years of thinking about it, we are finally getting a loft conversion done. Yay! It might have taken covid and working from home to give us that final push (or maybe shove). But I am so glad we are taking the plunge.
Why a loft conversion?
To put it bluntly, it was far more cost effective for us to build up to create more space, than to move house. We live in an old, average, 3 bedroom Victorian house in London. You know, one of those long but fairly thin houses with a kitchen that feels like it’s eating part of the garden. There was scope to build out to the side – a side return extension. But the space gained from that wouldn’t have compared to going up into the loft space for us.
Know what you want
Before contacting any professionals (which you will need to do if looking to build), we thought long and hard about what we wanted to gain from having a loft conversion. Not the technical aspects of the build. But the real baseline of the project – what we wanted to be left with after the build.
For us, this was simple. A bigger bedroom for the little one, a shower room and a dedicated office space for me. With both of us grown-ups working from home a whole heap more, it’s become tricky sharing an office space with phones and Teams meeting in progress. *I definitely don’t want to be visible during one of hubby’s manager meetings… in my mum-leggings and sneaking in a chocolate or 6!
Research, research and research
Once we knew what we wanted, we spent a good few months researching other people’s loft conversions. I feel like an absolute nosey parker, but it helps you to get an idea of what can be done. I can’t tell you how many hours we spent with our faces to YouTube and surfing the net at every opportunity, as well as asking everyone we knew about their own loft conversion experiences.
Once we knew exactly what we wanted, and, having an idea of the type of build we needed to go for – an L shaped loft conversion, we started to look at contacting the professionals.
Architect or loft conversion company?
When you are ready to get the ball rolling, the next step is deciding whether to go for an architect or loft conversion company for having measurements taken and your loft designing.
We jumped straight in and headed for our first known architect. Simply, because he was already known to us, had designed pretty much half the neighborhood, and there were going to be some weird niggles based on our neighbors loft plans (who were building at roughly the same time as us).
Specifically, because of the latter, this admittedly did work well for us. However, now we are at mid-build point, without a doubt, we could have skipped going to an independent architect and had our loft designed by the loft company building it – Sunlight Lofts (who are brilliant – more on them in my next post). Not only would it have made more sense, but it would have cost a lot less too.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing! So, I hope these takeaway tips help if you are thinking about getting a loft conversion.
Top tips for takeaway when planning a loft conversion
- Know what you want. Be very clear with the areas you want to create in your loft and what you want to use them for before contacting the professionals.
- Research everything to do with lofts! Even if you already know what style of loft you want to go for. You’ll be surprised at how many tips and tricks you can pick up from other people who have been there, done that and got the t-shirt.
- Set a budget and be realistic in terms of the space you have, and what you want to use it for. It’s very easy to get carried away with thinking about all the possibilities… but it needs to work for you, not just look pretty.
- When you’re ready to contact the professionals, think about whether you want to go with an architect or straight to a loft conversion company (before actually doing it!). If your build is going to be pretty complicated, or you have very niche style needs, an architect may be for you. If not, cut out the middle man, save money and go for the loft company (which has their own architect/surveyors).
- Someone once told me… all loft builds are standard. It’s so true. Don’t get bamboozled with terms like ‘bespoke’ and ‘bespoke builders’ which add plenty of extra zeros to costs. If anything, generally speaking, the loft companies who do this day in, day out, have even more expertise to be able to add in the beautiful quirks, nooks and crannies that you’ve dreamed up. *If I bought a white mug, stuck a bit of blu tack to the top and flicked a bit of ink at it… that would be ‘bespoke’… think about it 😉
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