Loft conversion - ladder, space-saving stairs or regular size stairs?

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    Loft conversion - ladder, space-saving stairs or regular size stairs?

    Hello, this is my first post

    I've recently bought my first home, which is a 2-bedroom, 2-storey, mid-terrace house. I'm doing some work to it (well, haven't done much yet...) and once that is finished I'd like to take on some lodgers - at least two, possibly three - while continuing to live here.

    One alteration I'm considering is a loft conversion. There is not much space for a staircase so I'm wondering if a ladder would be ok? In particular, whether it would be:

    1) Legal for me to live in such a loft
    2) Legal to have a lodger there?

    Optionally, would one of those space-saving staircases be a good alternative?

    I haven't found clear answers on the web.

    Also, can somebody please clarify what changes the status of a 2-storey house to a 3-storey one - is it a staircase to the loft (so a retractable ladder would preserve the 2-storey classification) or the fact that the loft is occupied?


    The major problem wil be complying with Building Control requirements if the loft is to be converted into habitable living space.

    Locating roof lights by using Velux windows may not need planning permission, but the staircase has to meet current Building Regulations, as will the size of a window to allow escape from fire.

    The floor joists may need to be reinforced to allow use as a habitable room, as will a need to provide insulation levels in the roof slope to make it habitable.

    As for letting a ledger use that room unless all those building regulations are compied with, I can imagine that Health and Safety regulations will also come into play, as will an increase in Council Tax valuation for an additional bedroom.

    If this is really going to be DIY conversion, I don't think this is a sensible idea.
    Getting a quote for a proper conversion from a builder will tell you how silly an idea that is, because there is such a lot to do to make a loft into a habitable space fit for human habitation.


      What you propose is to turn a space that is currently not habitable into habitable space. This term is important.

      Planning Consent (in what ever form), in the current climate is straight forward.

      Building Regulation Approval - completely separate to Planning - is also straight forward but there's a lot of work involved to alter the exisitng building.

      Assuming the property is in England or Wales then it is likely that the structural alterations will require Notice to be served on your neighbouring property owners under the Party Wall Act. This is a bit of a mine field to be fair. It is a simple piece of legislation that is widely misunderstood which then leads to disproportionate costs - imho.

      I disagree with pilman regarding getting a builder round to quote. Very few know anything about Planning, Building Regulations or the Party Wall Act. My suggestion is to find a local Architect / Surveyor / Engineer / Architectural Technician who does predominantly domestic work and ask them to come round to discuss what is and isn't possible and what would be involved.

      I do just that with prospective (and returning) clients. I don't charge for an initial meeting and I see no reason why you can't find similar in your area.

      In short, unless you're going to do the job properly, don't bother.
      There is always scope for misinterpretation.

      If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

      Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.


        Thanks. That's a good idea about getting a surveyor. I'm thinking of ringing up a few loft conversion companies to come around to do a no-obligation survey, which would give me the same kind of idea of any potential issues without having to spend a penny.

        As I'm not much of a DIY-er, I would probably end up going ahead with one of them anyway.

        As for the council tax increase - my motivation for the loft conversion is purely 'capitalist' - I want one more bedroom to fit one more lodger in to have more rental money, so it's really only a matter of weighing out the costs and benefits.
        I want 3 lodgers eventually, and my house has 2 bedrooms, a through lounge and a loft. The idea is to use the lounge as my bedroom, rent out the 2 bedrooms to lodgers, and if I can put a lodger in the loft that will get me there.


          Bear in mind, with 3 lodgers you would become an hmo so check there are no additional planning or licencing requirements in your area. Even non licenced you will need to comply with regulations.


            Originally posted by otorongo View Post
            There is not much space for a staircase so I'm wondering if a ladder would be ok?
            I certainly would not give rent to you if you wanted me to climb a ladder to get into my bedroom.
            Climb a ladder with my evening meal, and cup of tea.
            And as mentioned, regulations may require a staircase.


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