Loft conversions

Loft Conversions | Advice from Jason Briggs

Over the years, loft conversions have become a popular choice for homeowners seeking to maximise the potential of their property.

For many, the loft is a storage space for anything from memorabilia to old furniture. However, when converted, the loft can be transformed from an underutilised area into a functional space for bedrooms, offices, or relaxation areas.

Having completed over 100 loft conversions in London, we speak with Jason Briggs, owner of The Kitchen and Loft Company, who answers key questions about loft conversions and what you should consider.

How long does it take to complete a loft conversion?

When discussing the time taken to complete loft conversions, Jason used a typical Victorian terraced house in Hammersmith with a new master bedroom in the main loft area and a bathroom in the pod on the rear addition as a case study.

He explained, “These usually take six weeks to complete by which time the build will have been brought to a plastered finish ready for flooring and decoration with the bathroom tiled and fixtures and fittings installed. If you want custom cabinetry or a really special bathroom with say a walk-in shower and a free-standing bath add another week to ten days.”

He highlighted the importance of early planning, to ensure the build stays on time. “We always start talking with clients about the bathroom right at the beginning so that we can order everything needed well in advance. For decoration, you should add another two weeks and if you think about window finishings early, you will be able to move into your new space straight away.”

How can you maximise space with a loft conversion?

When discussing how to maximise space, Jason explained that “head height is easy to maximise if your builder has the right mindset and even complex stairs will always fit if the measure is run correctly”.

Literally every centimetre counts so always challenge your contractor on this to ensure you get the best possible loft conversion.

Jason explained how new building regulations for insulation mean that head height under the pitched roof section is now potentially reduced by a significant amount. To address this without compromising energy performance, Jason and his team have designed a custom externally fitted system that is approved by Buildings Control.

For the rest of the loft, Jason emphasised the importance of maximising the use of space. “Simple things like an extra set of double doors can make it easier to store and access items such as suitcases and Christmas decorations”, he said. Jason and his team can also make “push to open draws on silent runners which slide into the eaves” which is also a great space-saving solution.

Recently, Jason and his team created a walk-in wardrobe to the front of the loft bedroom which he said “worked surprisingly well for a relatively small space.”

Loft conversion wardrobe

Do I need planning permission for a loft conversion?

Do I need planning permission for a loft conversion, is a question many homebuyers ask Jason.

He explained that “if you live in a flat, or a conservation area or want to change the roof profile then you need planning permission, otherwise, a Lawful Development Certificate will suffice.”

However, he explained that you should “Never ever try and cheat the system to avoid planning rules or add extra space you don’t have permission for. Planning enforcement officers have more powers than the police with regards to accessing your home and it only takes one nosey neighbour to trigger an inspection. A good builder will always ensure you get the most space possible and that your extension complies with the rules.”

Loft conversions

What are the stages of a loft conversion?

Jason Briggs shared insights into the typical process his team follows during a loft conversion.

“Once planning permission has been approved and the build is ready to commence, the scaffold will go up”, Jason explained.

He emphasised the importance of not cutting corners on the over-roof, especially during the summer when we now experience heavier, almost monsoon-like downpours. This avoids any risk of flooding the house and will also ensure that the team can continue working regardless of the weather.

Once the roof is stripped off, Jason explained that you can expect a significant quantity of materials to be delivered. By the end of the first week, the steels will be installed and the floor to be laid. Jason highlighted that you must have already decided on the location of the bathroom and air conditioning units before this stage, if applicable so that the pipework can be prepared.

Loft conversions - Bathroom

He explained that “the build progresses swiftly, and by week four, we will have broken through and installed the staircase. Before this, there is no need for anyone to access the house other than to use the bathroom.”

He also highlighted that these stages can be completed much faster than you think, so homeowners should be ready to discuss light positions by week two and start thinking about paint colours by week six.

How much does it roughly cost?

Below Jason Briggs discussed some of the costs and options involved in loft conversions, highlighting the range of variables that can affect the final price.

“There are so many variables but for a finished build ready to move in and snuggle with absolutely everything included can cost almost £100,000 now,” Jason shared. “A small dormer is obviously a lot less and a huge build on a 1930s semi a lot more. Although insulation has recently jumped in price other costs are now very stable so there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t have a fixed price contract, and we have certainly never asked a client for unexpected extras.”

He detailed some of the specific costs involved, noting “You can easily fit out a shower room for £5,000 and there are some incredible new floorings available for £35 a sqm which look exactly like real wood. Or you can treat yourself to smoked oak planks, and marble tiles and have a stone bath craned in.”

He explained that regardless of the budget and the project, his team maintain a high standard of finish. “We only have one standard of finish and there are still great options for everyone from young professionals doing their first extension to families creating their forever home.”

Loft conversions

Common obstacles and how to overcome them

There are no obstacles only solutions

Jason Briggs

He explained that “head height is easy to maximise if your builder has the right mind and the stairs will always fit.”

Jason stressed the importance of addressing drainage before starting the project, noting that upgraded gutters, particularly at the rear of properties, are something to look at. “There is no question that London’s weather patterns have changed, and while rain doesn’t have feelings, our clients certainly do. There’s nothing worse than a leak, so it’s crucial to do things right the first time,” he explained.

He also highlighted the necessity of adhering to insulation and fire regulations. “The only real headache is when the ground floor is entirely open plan. In this case, the hallway walls and kitchen door need to be re-instated otherwise we need to fit a mist-type sprinkler system, something which clients very rarely decide to have installed.”

As a final point, Jason underscored the importance of sorting out party wall notices at least two months in advance of the build. “If a neighbour consents and you don’t need a full Party Wall Award then great, but we still always insist that a schedule of condition is run on each neighbouring property. You can’t buy good neighbours and the correct paperwork means that in the unlikely event of a dispute, the independent surveyor sorts it all out. Building works next door are never ideal, but we always find that if you are straight with your neighbours and do as you would be done by all will be well.”

Loft Conversions

By making the most of every inch of your home, you can improve the overall comfort of your home while also enhancing its value.

For those considering a loft conversion, understanding the timelines, planning early, ensuring compliance with building regulations and working with a trusted construction company can be key factors in achieving a successful loft conversion.

To contact Jason Briggs visit The Kitchen and Loft Company website here.