ARTICLE Carol Watson
 

Do I need building consent to convert my loft into a liveable space?

Yes. The type of consent will depend on the extend of your proposed development. If your plans include changes to the roofline or the exterior of your house, then you will need an approved DA and construction certificate before you commence work. A less ambitious plan may not require DA approval, but will still need to go through council to determine if it is an exempt development, where no approval is required, or a complying development, where your plans meet local government development standards. If you meet the standards, an approval is issued a lot faster than a full DA approval

How much does a loft conversion cost?

If you are converting your loft storage space, then, depending on the size of the floor area, expect to pay up to $10,000 for flooring, lighting and ladder access. To create a liveable area, you need to invest in ventilation, insulation, lighting, stairs, flooring, windows and doors, plus the cost of expertise and various trades. As a result, your costs are more likely to start around $200,000* and go upwards depending on your choice of finishes.

Simple, bedroom loft conversion with skylights and one large window along one wall

How do I know if my loft is suitable for conversion to a bedroom?

The proposed room must meet the Building Code of Australia standards in regards to ceiling height, ventilation and light and should be a space that is useable and comfortable to move around in. You can usually convert the loft of a house with a pitched roof, but our modern day trussed rood houses do not provide enough space for a practical loft conversion. Trusses are spaced at regular intervals throughout the roof and you will not have a large enough area to create a liveable room.

Should I install an attic ladder or permanent stairs in my loft conversion?

If you intend to use your new loft area regularly, then you should install permanent stairs. Think carefully about the size and location of the stairs, as the space they require can be as much as half a small room. Place them in an area that is easily accessible to the rest of the house. A ladder does not require as much space and can be folded away when not needed, however is most suited for a storage room or a space that is not used on a daily basis.

How can I get maximum natural light into my loft?

Skylights or roof windows are commonly used to bring natural light into a loft room. These are installed into the existing roof and vary in style from a basic fixed window to an opening window. This includes additional features such as flyscreens, solar block-out shades and rain sensors. Painting the room in neutral or white tones, and adding a mirror to reflect light, will make the room brighter.

Bathroom loft conversion

How can I ventilate my new loft room?

Natural ventilation can be achieved through the use of roof windows with an opening mechanism. Install the windows on both sides of the room to create a cross ventilation pathway. Ceiling fans and air conditioning systems can provide mechanical ventilation. If your loft includes a bathroom, you must install an extractor fan to remove moisture and condensation and ensure it vents to the outside of the house. A combination of heat rising from within the house and external heat from the summer sun, will result in a very hot room. Therefore, insulation is essential to keep the room comfortable enough to live in. Talk to your renovation builder for ventilation and insulation standards.

Will my ceiling be strong enough to support a new loft conversion?

You will need additional floor joists above the existing ceiling plasterwork. The existing ceiling joists will not be strong enough to support the weight of the new floor and all other elements of your loft room. Your renovation builder will get a structural engineer to determine the size and grade of the joists required.

Is there a standard ceiling height for a useable loft space?

The ceiling height must be at least 2.2m for two thirds of your proposed room. This ensures you can stand upright and move around the space comfortably.

We are concerned that the sound of footsteps on the floor of our loft conversion will be too loud. What can we do to minimise this?

Think about the type of flooring you intend to use. Hardwood flooring is generally noisier, so consider using carpet to soften the noise. Another alternative is to install acoustic flooring. These latest flooring systems come with an inbuilt acoustic layer in the underlay and have an outward appearance of wood.

Modern loft conversion with built-in wall storage

How can I maximise storage space in my new loft room?

Make the most of every nook and cranny and that often unused, hard to reach space in the eaves, by installing custom built joinery. Invest time and thought into how and what you need to store and work with a renovation builder to design a solution that maximises how you use the available storage space.

What measures do I need to take to protect my loft from fire?

Ensure you have a secondary point of egress (exit) in the room. This can simply be a window opening to the outside. In case of fire, the stairway can quickly become engulfed in flames, hence the need for a second point of exit from the room. If you can’t install an opening window, then you will need a self-closing fire door on the staircase enclosure. Install a smoke alarm and check it regularly to ensure it is in good working order. 

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If you would like to discuss options and ideas for your loft conversion home renovation project, please use the enquiry form alongside to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change. Costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. Please consult your local renovation specialist for a fixed-quote accurate to your specifications.

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