Posted by: Discover Directory on 12/19/2018

Need More Space? What It Takes to Add a Loft.

Need More Space? What It Takes to Add a Loft.

There comes a point in most homeowners’ lives when they realize they need more space. According to Southern Living Magazine, the average American home holds about 300,000 “personal items” in 930 square feet. This must be why there are so many television shows about storage and space like Storage Wars on A&E Network and Small Space, Big Style and Tiny House Big Living on HGTV — Americans simply have too much stuff! While some might opt for a garage sale, others may choose to just make more room.

Instead of moving or planning a costly, strenuous exterior addition, (average addition costs ranging from $80 to $200 per square foot) think about adding a loft. Adding a loft in your home is a creative, less invasive way to create that extra space. It is also one of the best ways to up the value of your home and add some architectural intrigue. However, as with any remodeling job, there’s a lot that goes into building a loft. Consider the following as you start planning your loft conversion: 

  • Determine if your home is suitable for a loft conversion. 

Most homes are suitable for loft conversions because there are multiple routes to take. Converting an attic space into a loft is the most involved. There are specific factors you must take into consideration: ceiling height, type of roof, insulation, structural shifts (i.e., if a water tank or chimney stack should be moved), etc. Be aware that converting an attic space into a loft can involve the restructuring of your roof. The dormer conversion, the hip to gable, and the mansard are three of the most common attic-to-loft conversions. 

However, you do not need an attic space to construct a loft. In this Houzz article, architect Colm Doyle suggests building a “stand-alone structure” or a mezzanine for your loft space if an attic is not a possibility. These methods still require tall ceilings. Either way, you’re going to want ceilings of at least 14 feet to comfortably construct a loft. 

  • Pay close attention to city regulations. 

Every structural change that you make to your home is going to have to pass the regulations set by your local building division. They will likely look into your plan’s calculations, electrical and fire safety, insulation, drainage, etc. Make sure your plan meets these requirements before starting any construction to avoid potential bumps in the road. You must also determine whether you need a permit from the building division for your conversion. Most loft conversions are allowed without a permit, but you will save yourself quite the headache by double checking the requirements first. 

  • Decide what kind of space you want. 

Now it’s time to decide what you will want to do with your new space. You could have anything: bedroom, office, bathroom, living space. When making these decisions, it’s important to consider what makes the most sense. Is there enough room in the space for a bed and other necessary furniture? Are there enough outlets for an office? Is plumbing even a possibility for a bathroom? These types of decisions are also going to affect your budget. 

  • Think about cost — have a budget in mind. 

Now that you’ve decided what kind of conversion and space you want, it’s time to think about cost. According to the website “FIXR”, the national average for a loft conversion between 600 and 900 square feet is about $117,000. Note that these numbers will vary depending on your location. There are less costly routes you can take, but either way a loft conversion is not exactly a cheap endeavor. Work with your bank to figure out what is best for you financially. After you’ve made this decision, you can get down to the nitty-gritty details of your loft conversion. 

  • Consider accessibility. 

How do you plan on getting to your loft? Do you want to build a staircase or are you thinking a ladder might be more suitable? A ladder will definitely save you some space and money, but they’re not always going to cut it. If your loft is on the larger and taller side, a staircase is probably more fitting and safer. 

  • Maximize natural light sources. 

Natural light will greatly open up your loft space. This is important — you want your space to feel as roomy and open as possible. Many architects suggest putting in a skylight for maximum natural light. If this isn’t a possibility, there are multiple ways to arrange smaller windows that will make your space feel larger than it is. For example, try arranging four windows in a close formation to make a squat room feel taller. 

  • Consider hiring a professional. 

It is safe to say that most people don’t know the mechanics of or even know where to begin when building a loft. Yes, D.I.Y. projects can be fun and cost saving, and if you’re equipped to take this route, great! On the other hand, hiring a professional to help with the design and building process will greatly decrease stress and confusion. Websites such as “Houzz” and “Home Advisor” will help you find local professional architects and contractors to help you guide you through your design project. 

  • Decorate your new space. 

Now that you’ve constructed a brand new space it’s time to decorate! This is the fun part. Figure out how much room you have for furniture and embellishments. While you decorate, keep in mind that you’re dealing with a smaller space — a bunch of clutter is only going to make it look even smaller. 

Building a loft is a project you can have fun with, but there are a lot of things to consider. As long as your structure follows city codes and regulations, there is a lot of creative possibility in loft conversion. Regardless of what you plan to do with the room, building a loft is a fantastic way to raise your home’s value and create more space.