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Design Options for Loft Conversions Part One - Dormers & Roof Windows

Following on from our recent blog examining your insulation options for Loft Conversions, we thought it may be useful to examine some of the options for bringing light and ventilation into your proposed loft conversion, along with maximising any views and giving your rooms some desirable design features.

There are a few fundamental issues to be considered when you are thinking about the layout for your loft conversion and how it might work. The first is how to get a staircase up to the new loft rooms from the floor below whilst trying to a) make it look as original to the house as possible, b) maintain the minimum headroom or more as you rise up with the stairs in order to meet building regulations, c) ensure you have a landing area at the top of the stairs of sufficient size and headroom to meet buidng regulations, d) ensure that the finished loft space (after insulation and structure etc) is of a useful size and shape, and e) examine whether you have enough width and height in the finished roof space to have a functional, useable room, or perhaps you may need to consider one or more dormer windows to the roof slope to help with useable roof space?

In most cases if you are not altering the shape of the roof in any way, or installing any window which protrudes more than 150mm above the roof line, then you will often not require Planning Permission to be applied for for your loft rooms (there are exceptions to this so we would always advise checking with your Local Authority Planning Department to make sure of this). You can also use Velux "Conservation Windows & Flashings" in sensitive planning and conservation areas which help to lower the window into the depth of the roof more and give less impact.

When considering options for using either roof windows or dormers, headroom is of course a factor and often there will be a combination of both used in a typical conversion. It should be considered that you will get a better amount of light into the rooms with roof windows as they lay along the slope of the roof and won't create as many shaded areas. It should also be noted that several smaller roof windows spaced over the roof can often give a lot more light that one large window due to light being provided to several areas rather than through one large opening.

It is also advantageous when using roof windows to splay the finished roof slopes or linings around the window as this can further allow more light to enter your rooms - if you cannot splay the sides then try to at least splay (slope) the top lining horizontal and the bottom lining vertical as per this picture, as it really does help to bring more light into the rooms.

Appearance wise, you should also consider the positioning and alignment of any dormers and roof windows so they they "line up" with windows below or are at least positioned / spaced sympathetically so as to make the final overall appearance of the elevations look more pleasing and more original to the current design of the property.

Groups of roof windows can make an interesting feature inside the room and on the roof from a design point of view, or you could consider a combination of fixed plus opening windows, or balcony options to add an additional element of drama. Any roof window which lies flat into the slope of the roof and which folds away when closed (including the Velux "Cabrio" fold-away balcony window) doesn't normally require planning consent unless you're in a conservation area or the building is a listed one, but always check with your local authority. We will take a look at Juliet Balconies, Fixed Balconies and Cabrio (fold away) Balcony window options in Part 2 of this article, coming soon.

For more advice and guidance on suitable materials for your Loft Conversion, including Velux Roof Windows & Blinds, PIR Insulation boards (such as Celotex, Recticel and Ecotherm), Phenolic Boards (such as Kingspan Kooltherm), Plasterboard & Plasters, Insulated Plasterboards, Multifoil Insulation (such as Triso Super 10+, Superfoil, Thinsulex), Lintels & Beams and much more, please call the office on 01793-791010

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