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Some people subscribing to our news letter may value our 'design lead' approach so we schedule below some of our assessment criteria relating to loft conversions that you may find useful:-
1. Does it need Planning Permission - If so utilising councils design guides is a must. Some front or side facing dormers may still be resisted even if they are small. Velux windows often overcome these objections. In most cases, big bulky box dormers will not be allowed.
2. What area of new space does client require - Many clients have overambitious floor space targets & visualise 3 bedrooms for example (all with ensuite of course). They fail to appreciate loss of floor space caused by extensive sloping soffits, & new stairs.
3. Where can new stair set go - Many clients fail to realise that their preferred location for stairs does not achieve required head room within new floor for example. In most cases some existing floor space of bedrooms for example will need to be sacrificed.
4. It is better to achieve one or two good sized functional rooms to compensate for lack of head room in some areas of new rooms rather than trying to cram in bedroom numbers for sake of it where new rooms can become nothing more than single bed sleeping podules with very little inbuilt amenity value.
5. If flat roofed dormers can only be achieved due to low ridge height then split dormers into 2 or three smaller ones with no more than 1200mm (4') wide windows to break up its bulk. Always, always always recess dormer into roof slope to reduce dormers bulk - DO NOT BUILD THE EXTERNAL FACE OF THE DORMER WALL OFF THE EXISTING EXTERNAL WALL OF THE HOUSE.
6. If a client wants a conversion with only Velux type roof lights then all well & good (much cheaper as well). However an exercise should be completed to explore possibilities of a strategically located dormer or two that often frees up an extra 30% floor area that client may not have realised for very little extra money.
7. Dormers are not only design solution to more light & space - consideration could also be given to a hip to gable conversion of side roof for example that wont look out of keeping (unless your a semi of course).
8. As a rule of thumb to practicality of your new room in roof - if you can already touch ridge board when standing in loft (about 2.3M or less), then its normally too small to form useful functioning bedrooms unless a bulky box dormer is constructed (which is what we are trying to avoid) If it is an area just for a play room or a study then all well & good but beware, many people have embarked on tight loft conversions only to realise too late that that they have no where to place bed or locate a wardrobe.
There are a great many other issues to consider as well when completing loft conversions such as overheating, fire regs, weather protection during works etc. & these are major discussion topics in themselves that I will leave for another day. However, points listed above are main ones relative to external design & appearance of loft conversions.
Our 'Maximum Build Planning Guide' explains further tactics involved when developing a site with a loft conversion or extension & how to give yourself best chance of being granted a planning permission or planning approval.
Martin meaks is a very experienced Planning Consultant who has formed a UK planning permission information web site. http://www.planning-approval.co.uk