Considerations before having a loft conversion

If you’ve had an inspection completed for converting your loft space and been told that the head height is insufficient, there are a couple of options to enable you to go forward with your planned conversion.

Raising the Roof

You can literally raise the roof! This process involves taking away part or all of the current roof and having it rebuilt to the height and structure you require. Whilst this is doable, it’s a lot of upheaval, hugely costly and you might have trouble getting planning permission. Having the roof removed will require covered scaffolding to keep the house protected from the elements while the work is carried out.

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Lower the Ceiling Below

If the ceiling height in the rooms below is on the generous side, you could lower them to give you the head height required in the loft. Ceilings in older properties tend to be more generous so as long as you are left with 2.4m, you could take advantage of the additional space and use it for the loft. It’s a messy process, as all the current ceilings will need removing. Plates will need to be bolted to the wall for the new floor joists to connect to. This is a serious undertaking for professionals only. For help with any aspect of Loft conversions Bristol, visit

New Ceiling Joists

Even without having to make any changes to the roof or ceiling below, your current ceiling joists are not likely to be able to bear the load of a floor in a conversion. To comply with Building Regulations, additional joists will be needed. The size and strength of the joists will be decided by a structural engineer, who will have calculated the area of the loft and the distance of separation for loading purposes.

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The joists will expand across between load-bearing walls, and usually positioned above current ceiling plasterwork using spacers under the end of the joists. The new joists run alongside existing ones and over doors and windows, thicker timber is used to support the opening to avoid pressure on the current lintel.

When it comes to fire safety, the new joists must provide half an hour of fire protection. Achieving this could mean having to re-plaster the ceilings of all first-floor rooms. The conversion will also need to be fitted with a fire door that separates it from the rest of the house, positioned at the top or bottom of the new staircase.

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