Around 30% of homes in the UK are terraced houses (ONS UK housing report), with many being found in those popular areas people are keen to live in: those with good local amenities, stations on commuter routes and well-reputed community schools.
But when the family or a hobby grows, and the accommodation offered by the average terraced house starts to feel cramped, leaving the local area (let alone affording the time, hassle and expense of moving) can be the last thing you want to do. If that’s the case, it can make sense to stay put and increase your accommodation options by looking to the loft for extra living space, with a terraced house loft conversion.
In fact, many of the UK’s older terraced homes, for example Victorian terraces, offer well-proportioned attic spaces which could offer potential for conversion. However, not all attics are the same so it’s worth initially investigating your own loft area’s conversion potential, by considering these basic conversion essentials for terraced properties:
- Head height needed is 2.3m at highest point;
- There must be adequate space for stairs;
- The conversion may be subject to party wall agreements (as terraced homes always share at least one adjoining wall);
- Older lofts particularly may house existing fixtures such as water tanks which may limit design options or need to be removed.
Once you’ve recognised if or how the above issues may affect your possible loft conversion options, you’ll need to identify the purpose for your proposed room: are you hoping the loft conversion will create one large room, such as a new bathroom or extra bedroom, along with eaves storage? Or would you prefer a suite, such as a Master bedroom and en-suite, or child’s bedroom with playroom or en-suite alongside?
Having decided how you want to use the space, it’s usually time to start making enquiries with loft design professionals, as their expertise can be crucial in identifying the type of design which could be best-fit for your space …
1. Simple conversion
Installing velux windows into the existing roof is usually the simplest (and therefore cheapest) option because it doesn’t involve any external alterations to existing roof-line. Roof light windows are used which fit into, rather than obtruding from, the plane of the roof, so simple conversions often involve less construction work overall, unless there are design factors you specifically want, such as the removal of a water tank.
A simple conversion is a good idea if the roof space already offers plenty of ceiling height for the room’s intended use, as it won’t provide you with additional head room. It can also offer these additional benefits:
- A row of roof lights can be added, providing significant natural light to a loft space.
- Some Velux window designs incorporate thermostatic controls and rain sensors so they will automatically open or close once according to your pre-set temperature requirements or if it starts to rain.
- Opening and closing windows can also be carried out using remote control, ideal for offering ventilation even when roof height is extremely lofty.
- Offer a good starting point for conversions on a limited budget – construction work can be minimal and bespoke fixtures, fittings and furnishings can be added later, when the budget allows.
2. Dormer conversion
A dormer loft conversion basically adds a mini- extension (upwards) to the square footage of the loft space. This can be a good way to add headroom to a loft in order to create enough space for a bedroom or room which is going to be used actively, such as a games room or home-gym.
This type of conversion often forms part of light-touch planning and, depending on your design and local planning requirements, may not require additional planning permission. As a result, dormer conversions can often involve less time and money than previously, as planning aspects can now be much quicker.
If you favour a dormer design, your planning professional can advise on whether planning is likely to be needed, and can also undertake the planning on your behalf.
The main benefits of adding a dormer conversion to a terraced home include:
- Gaining additional headroom from the dormer.
- Dormers can extend almost full width across the roof space, significantly increasing both headroom and preferred design options, such as having a shower fitted, rather than bath.
- Large sized dormer windows maximise natural light into the room, particularly at the point of the additional headroom, ideal for a standing desk, hobby workstation or dressing table.
- Because most dormers are added to the rear side of the roof, you can gain superb views of your garden and local treetops, to bring a sense of the outdoors inside and enhance the mood of the room(s) you’re creating.
- Adding to the back of the roof can also be useful if potential designs include an en-suite or bathroom, as the majority of bathrooms in terraced houses are at the rear of the property. This helps reduce plumbing headaches like joining new WCs to the existing soil pipe and without adding to overall conversion costs.
A Mansard loft conversion involves the addition of a full-scale extension to the roof space. In contrast with a dormer, a Mansard conversion will almost always require planning permission as it significantly affects the roof-line.
Because roof work is integral to this type of conversion, more construction work is involved. However, it’s definitely the case that this extra work (and therefore additional cost compared to basic or dormer loft conversions) is worth the wider options for space, light and overall design that a Mansard brings.
This conversion features an extension to the roof, familiarly recognised as having a box-shape and flat roof itself. The extension incorporates an angled rear side which slopes to fit in with the existing roof, whilst usually running across the whole plane of the roof. The flat front of the Mansard can incorporate many window options, including a run of windows to flood light into the room.
Creating a Mansard loft conversion within a terraced property can bring additional enhancements and options for:
- Extending the overall square footage of space created, as well as headroom.
- Maximising natural light into the space, ideal if the room is intended for use as a study or day-room.
- The potential finish options for the design, particularly offering more alternatives for blending the new room in with existing design of the home, such as stairways and windows, or for creating light wells to maximise light in dark spaces.
- Adding a wider range of additional features, such as a Juliet Balcony.
- Achieving results that give a sense of a real room in the roof, rather than a loft which has been converted – something which smaller terraced houses can particularly benefit from.
Overall, a loft conversion can be a great option for your terraced property and can be a way of securing both extra space and additional value for your home. Our professional teams are always happy to advise, so if you have any questions about taking your terraced home’s accommodation to the next level, please contact us.