Most lofts and attics in the UK are accessed via a small hatch or trap door with a drop-down ladder or stairs; making them ideal for occasional entry but not altogether the most accessible room for regular use. If you’re converting your loft into a usable living space, chances are that you’ll want to improve accessibility and install stairs for easy entry. The position of these stairs is critical in the conversion design but there are also numerous safety considerations that must be taken into account. To learn more on the possibilities and regulations in place, read on…

A loft bedroom

Where do stairs go in a loft conversion?

The positioning of stairs plays a key part in the design of a loft conversion but they can only be situated in certain places. Building regulations state that there must be 2m of headroom above the ‘pitch line’ of a staircase; that is, the imaginary line that would follow the edge of the tread (the nosing) upwards, but loft conversions there is some flexibility given the enclosed nature of the space. To allow for sloping walls, stairs entering into a loft conversion are permitted to have a 1.8m clearance to the side of the stair and 1.9m to the centre.

Ideally, stairs will land in the highest place of the loft for maximum clearance – but of course, this is usually the centre of the room and therefore is usable floor space. However, there are alternatives and with some clever placement, the converted loft can still be used to its optimal potential. The inclusion of a dormer window into a loft conversion can permit further headroom for a staircase should you not wish to use the centre of your new room for entry.

The top of stairs in a loft

Are there any other safety standards to meet?

Stairs entering into a loft conversion must meet certain headroom clearance measurements but must also adhere to fire safety standards. A fire door must be fitted to the loft and depending on the design of the conversion, can be present at the top or the bottom of the stairs. An architect will be able to advise of the safest option for your loft conversion design.

Can I place stairs to my loft conversion above my existing stairs?

It’s fairly common for a staircase to a loft conversion to be placed above existing stairs for convenience, space saving and continuity of design. However, this isn’t a must and so there is design freedom should you choose to situate them elsewhere – but the installation of stairs elsewhere may take space from another room. 

Currently, the ladder to my loft folds away. Are there space-saving options for stairs?

There are space-saving alternatives to traditional staircases to fit into small rooms or landings which involves foldable options of straight flights with alternate treads and handrails. These aren’t always acceptable to buildings regulations inspectors however, so the installation of such stairs should not be completed without first consulting with a renovations expert or architect to ensure their adherence to regulations.

How much does it cost to install stairs up to my loft conversion?

Every job is different and the exact cost of installing a staircase up to your loft conversion will depend on the size and scale of your conversion as well as the existing infrastructure. Generally speaking, standalone staircase installation starts at around £2,000 and full loft conversions at around £25,000.

What room can I convert my loft into?

The possibilities really are endless when it comes to loft conversions – so if you can think it, you can make it! Amongst other things, Refresh Renovations have worked on converting lofts into bedrooms with en-suites, cinema rooms, home offices, living rooms and even self-contained flats. Unless the conversion of your loft changes the primary use of your property or requires architectural intervention, you should be able to install your loft conversion without any planning permission under homeowners’ standard Permitted Development Rights.

A self contained living area in a loft

If my loft conversion and stairs installation require planning permission, how long will this take?

A Refresh Renovations specialist will be able to advise you on the likelihood of your conversion requiring planning permission upon a visit to your home. Most loft conversions can be completed under the Permitted Development Rights applicable to most homeowners, but should planning permission be needed, Refresh Renovations will manage this process and all related administration as part of the overall project.

On average, planning permission takes about 8 weeks between application and acceptance or appeal. However, this does vary between LPA (Local Planning Authorities) and is often quicker where managed by professionals who maintain a strategic relationship with their departments. Planning permission, once granted, lasts for a standard term of 3 years to be designed, built and completed. If the project won’t be completed in this time frame for whatever reason, permission must be re-applied for. Most renovations, once planned out, can be completed in the space of weeks and so such a long wait would only be the case if the project launch was severely delayed, or if planning permission was sought well ahead of time.

How do I know which type of stairs will work for my loft conversion?

It’s always best to seek the advice of the experts! A renovations consultant or architect will be able to make recommendations on appropriate options for your property as well as advise on the probability of each being considered acceptable by the relevant planning authority and local buildings inspector. There’s no harm in having an idea of what and where you’d like but be sure to consult with a specialist before committing to anything.

Get in touch!

Loft conversions can be hugely exciting property projects and truly transform your home. Chat with your local Refresh Renovations office to start the ball rolling on yours!

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