Making the most of your spare space – Part 1– transforming your loft!
We’re pretty sure that you’ve got a space in your home somewhere that just sits there doing nothing!
Don’t think you have? We challenge you to walk around your home now and see if all the space you have is used in the best way possible. Don’t forget the loft and cellar if you have them – are they used to their full potential too? If they are, well done, give yourself a good old pat on the back. If not, read on to find out how four ways to take those dead empty spaces and turn them into useful ones, starting with lofts.
Loft conversions are a great way to add extra space and value to your house as the structure is already in place and you’ll only need a few adjustments to transform it into something useful.
A word of warning before we begin. There are joists in your roof that are weight bearing and cannot be moved or removed without risking serious damage to the roof itself, with collapse a possibility. So, don’t go and grab your hammer and start whacking at things without knowing exactly what you’re doing – it’s a good idea to call in the professionals.
Right, let’s get on.
1. A full-on conversion – if you really want to make the most of the space a full-on conversion would be the way to go. It can be expensive, but if you need the extra space, it’s cheaper than moving or getting an extension on to the side of your house. Now, if you’re the kind of person who likes a challenge, has time and motivation, and more importantly, the skills to do the work properly and safely themselves and here's a useful article on what you need consider before going ahead, and some design ideas – off you go! Oh, before you start, you will need to check if you require planning permission for your plans – some things do and some don’t depending on what you want to do. You can check on the government's planning portal.
For the rest of us, it’ll either be a case of getting the professionals in or plumping for something less elaborate – but still very useful. This can be something like using the space for storing winter clothes or stuff you don’t use anymore, but don’t want to throw away. So that’s what we’re concentrating on here. But, before you start anything, you need to find out what’s already up there – is it boarded, is there access, are there electrics? Once you know this, you’ll have a better idea of what needs to be done too.
2. Access – if a conversion is out of the question, the next best option is to turn it into a useful storage space by making access easy and safe. You can get someone in to do this for you or you can do it yourself. It would cost approx £600 to make the space accessible and safe. The first step to doing this is steps! Or, more accurately, a loft ladder. A simple aluminium ladder can cost as little as £40 and if you need to make the access hatch bigger, here are some instructions on how to do that too.
3. Flooring – Now you can get into the loft, you’ll need something to walk on. So the first thing you’ll need to do is put some floorboards down. You could use this time to make sure that you have the right amount of insulation in your loft too. Remember, an uninsulated house loses 25% of its heat, so it’s important for keeping the bills down and you and your family toasty. And don’t forget, you might be able to get money towards having loft insulation fitted. Now that’s sorted, get some loft panels, and follow these instructions. You may also want to fit a light, which would cost approximately £125. This is not something you should attempt yourself – get a qualified electrician to do it. Or if you don’t think you’ll be up there often enough to need a light, just invest in some portable LED lights, like these designed for tents. They don’t require wiring and can be moved to where you need the light the most.
4. Storage – Now all that’s left to do is put in some kind of storage. We’d advise you use stackable, so you can save on space and choose plastic, so you can keep stuff protected from dust and bugs and just in case there’s a leak. The other thing you need to bear in mind is size – measure your loft hatch before you buy. This multi-set of loft boxes is a great deal and should provide a decent amount of storage space to begin with.
Phew! You’ll be worn out after all that work, but the extra space you’ll have created will be worth it. Now you can get on with clearing the junk out of your spare room and move it up into the loft, and repurpose it for something else. Next time we’ll finish off with how you can turn your cellar space into something useful.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.