What to consider in a loft to bedroom conversion

Before and after - bedroom loft conversion Aberdeenshire
Loft conversion
bedroom conversion in progress with velux window

What to consider in a loft to bedroom conversion?

A loft to bedroom conversion can be a smart way to extend the living space in your home without using up valuable garden space and changing your home’s footprint. It will also add value to your home and is more cost effective than adding an extension. But before you start imagining that new dreamy bedroom in your loft, you need to consider the following factors first.

 

Does your loft have enough free space to become a bedroom?

The main considerations are: available head height, roof pitch, roof structure and obstacles - such as water tanks or chimney stacks.

Ideally, you should have at least 2.2 metres of usable vertical space measuring from the bottom of the ridge timber in the centre of the loft to the top of the ceiling joist. If you have less than that, you can opt for a mansard roof, replace the entire roof structure or restructure the vertical space to take some from bedrooms below as long as you leave them with a minimum of 2.2 metres of floor-to-ceiling height.

The higher the angle of the roof pitch, the higher the central head height is likely to be. If dormers are used or the roof is redesigned, the floor area and its potential for comfortable headroom, can be increased.

Traditional framed-type roof structures are usually the simplest to convert. Rafters on traditional roofs run along its edges, leaving a good amount of free space. The rafters may need to be strengthened or additional supports added.

Trussed roofs - with W-shaped rafters - are harder to convert, but the rafters can be replaced with an A-shape structure which creates a hollow space.

The heating and hot water system may have to be replaced with a sealed system if you need to move a water tank and any plumbing. You’ll have to find space and budget for them.

Does your loft conversion require planning permission?

In Scotland, you don’t need planning permission for any internal alterations unless they involve the addition of a dormer or roof window.

For a dormer, you’ll need permission if: your home is a flat or within a tenement or four-in-a-block building; your home is in a conservation area; the dormer will be on a roof slope forming part of the principal elevation or side elevation where that elevation faces onto a road; the dormer will be on a roof slope and within 10 metres of the boundary of the curtilage of the house which that roof slope faces onto; the dormer will be higher than the existing height of the house, excluding the chimney; the dormer will take up more than half the width of the roof; the dormer will be within 0.3 metres of any edge of the roof slope of the house or it will include a balcony, a wind turbine, a raised platform or terrace.

Simple roof windows don’t need planning permission if the window doesn’t project more than one metre from the roof, but you will if you live in a conservation area and listed building consent if you live in a listed building.

 

You’ll need a Building Warrant

A Building Warrant is needed for loft conversions unless you only plan to simply floor the roof space for light domestic storage with access via a ladder. A warrant and conformity with Scottish Building Standards will be required for the changes you make, including adding a staircase, insulation and fire safety.

 

Can your home’s foundations take the extra weight?

A loft conversion can put extra stress on the foundations of your home, so they should be checked first. If they’re not considered deep enough to support the extra weight, we can get a structural engineer to suggest structural interventions to spread the load.

 

What style of loft conversion will be best for you?

There are several types of loft conversion to consider:

Rooflight (Velux): one of the simplest and cheapest as the existing loft space is retained and rooflights added. The existing floor may need to be reinforced, stairs added and electrics and plumbing altered as insulation added. This is ideal for smaller spaces where only one bedroom is being added.

Dormer: these project out vertically from the slope of the roof and use standard windows. This is good where the roof pitch angle is high and the useful floor area can be increased. They can be single, double or full-width, flat-roofed or gabled.

Hip-to-gable: the hipped, slanted section at the side of your roof is extended and becomes a vertical wall (gable end) which is built up to the same height as the ridge. This is then given a standard pitched roof that creates a space internally with full headroom. The vertical wall also allows for standard windows. This is ideal for semi-detached homes.

Mansard: this adds an extra storey to your home by replacing the sloping roof with an almost-vertical wall and a flat roof. Most run the full width of the house. A mansard conversion can solve the problem of low head height at the eaves or a lack of space and can be added at either the front or rear of a house, or have a double-mansard roof at the front and rear.

Modular: also known as pre-fab loft conversions, they come readymade, constructed off-site and once the roof has been removed, the modular loft conversion is craned into position. It’s possible to specify one complete with windows, doors, electrics and bathrooms.

L-shaped: the perfect solution for homes previously extended at the back, it consists of an L-shaped dormer, the larger end of which extends out from the main roof. Ideal if you want to have a separate bathroom and include good storage space.

Bungalow: there are many different designs to consider but the simplest and cheapest option is to add rooflights and floor reinforcement to a large existing loft space. Dormers will increase the useable space. Some people remove the whole roof to add a second storey.

 

Where will you put the staircase?

The ideal place is in line with the roof ridge to make best use of the height above the staircase. Your best position will depend upon the layout of the floor below and what height can be achieved using a dormer or adding a rooflight above the staircase o converting a hip roof end to a gable.

 

How will you introduce natural light?

The two main options for bringing in natural light are rooflights and dormers.

Rooflights are the most straightforward, economic, and most likely to be allowed without planning permission.

Dormer windows add space as well as light and are particularly effective where the pitch angle is high, as the useful floor area can be increased.

 

How will you ventilate your new bedroom?

For maximum energy efficiency, the roof space should be made as airtight as possible, so it’s essential to introduce controlled ventilation to prevent condensation and maintain good air quality. This means including background ventilation (airbricks and trickle vents) plus rapid ventilation (windows).

 

How will you heat your new bedroom?

A boiler upgrade may be necessary as the heat load requirement of the house will increase. If you do, it’s a good idea to switch to an unvented system which uses mains pressure (as long as it’s at least 1.5bar) instead of header tanks – to give you more space to use. Options for outputting the heat include radiators, underfloor heating, or both.

 

Will you soundproof your new bedroom?

Adding soundproofing should be considered and it can be easily included when insulating floors and any party walls.

As you can see, there are lots of issues, to consider, so contact us to arrange a chat about your best options.

 

Get in touch

All Design is a dedicated, friendly team of architectural designers who work alongside external associates and consultants to help people across Scotland find property solutions through carefully-considered designs which respond to their needs, the site, budget and planning policy.  We have more than 30 years of experience of helping homeowners create beautiful, yet practical, space in their homes.

 

Contact us to discuss your requirements or for a free quotation.

Design: Small bathroom ideas & tips

owel rail on door - blog by All Design
Corner sink - All Design blog
Vanity unit with storage space
Bathroom mirrors create the illusion of more space
Large patterned wallpaper

Design: Small bathroom ideas & tips

Designing a small bathroom to be both a functional and comfortable space can feel like a Wordle puzzle you’ll never get right, but if you address the issues systematically you can crack it without losing too much sleep.  Here, we’ve put together some small bathroom ideas and tips to help you through the process.

The big issues...

  • Space
  • Placing a toilet and sink
  • Fitting in a bath and shower
  • Where to put towel rails and toilet roll holder
  • Ventilation
  • Windows
  • Storage

How to make good use of space in a small bathroom

Avoid fighting your space
In a small bathroom with an awkward shape, make the most of the footprint you have rather than fighting it. Rather than feeling limited by the constraints, view them as features which help you decide on your ideal layout for that bathroom.

Replace a corner bath with a standard bath or bath & shower combo
Shower-bath combos can fit into small spaces, with some baths measuring just over 1.5 metres long.

Replace a shower door with a curtain
A shower curtain which goes to and from saves space compared with a glass door that moves in and out. 

Mount the towel rail on a door
Mounting a towel rail on the shower or bathroom door keeps the towels you need immediately handy. The rest can be stored elsewhere. 

Ventilation
Proper ventilation limits condensation and helps prevent mould and mildew which can cause respiratory problems as well as skin complaints. It also prevents premature wearing of bathroom accessories, paint and plaster.

Scottish regulations require all bathrooms to have some source of ventilation - either a window or an extractor fan with total air replacement of at least 15 litres per second/ 54m3 per hour.
If your bathroom only has a toilet, a window alone is fine. In new-build bathrooms with a bath and shower, an extractor fan is required because new-builds are designed to be more airtight than older homes. 

Install a corner or trough sink
A corner sink across from the toilet will maximise your space utilisation in a really small bathroom. Alternatively, a trough sink is an attractive and efficient space solution as they have a low profile and when wall mounted they free up floor space. 

Use a wall-mounted tap
Mounting a tap on the wall allows a narrower sink or vanity unit, which frees up footprint overall.

Use every bit of space
If space is really precious, you need to make the most of areas which seem inaccessible – such as the space beneath the eaves in a loft bathroom, which can be used for storage.

Clever wall design
Walls can be altered to help make the most of use of the footprint you have available, so ask your architectural designer about the options for yours.

Built-in storage
Building storage into the bathroom design makes life a lot easier. E.g. put some storage in the space above a wall-hung toilet or build a cupboard into a wall. 

Use a ledge
If you need to conceal a toilet cistern, use the opportunity to build a shelf above the false wall for storing your toiletries. Shelves don’t have to be huge - as the items you need to store on them are usually small. 

Shelving
You can create extra shelving space by extending a worktop over the toilet.  This doesn’t affect toilet placement and creates a minimalist look.

Use a vanity unit with a shelf
Sink unit design has evolved a lot over time and even a pedestal-style unit with a shelf can hold towels or other essentials. 

Mount the vanity unit over the floor
A vanity unit above the floor helps the bathroom feel bigger and frees up space for small items underneath. 

Use a round vanity unit
Tight spaces can create sharp corners little ones may bump into. Going for a rounded-style vanity unit avoids the issue. 

No smoke, just mirrors
You can create the visual illusion of your bathroom being bigger by using mirrors cleverly. They’ll also help it feel lighter by bouncing around what light is already there. Practically, even in the tightest spaces, having a mirror stretch across the wall beyond the vanity unit allows more than one person to use it at the same time…if you’re happy to share your bathroom time, of course. 

Use a large-pattern wall design
A big-pattern wall design tricks the eye into seeing the space as bigger than it actually is.

 

Even if you are not planning a renovation, there could well be some space-saving ideas here for all. Pinterest is a great place to get some inspiration from and if you need some help with your space, please get in touch.  We have designed many bathrooms over the years of all shapes and sizes.

Contact us to arrange a chat about how we can help solve your small bathroom puzzle.

 

We are growing! Architectural Technologist

All Design Aberdeen - We are growing

 

We are very excited be recruiting and growing our 'family' once again at All Design.  Please spread the word and if you're interested, please get in touch.  Here's the details:

Full-Time or Part-Time Architectural Technologist

All Design is a well-established architectural company providing design solutions to both domestic and commercial clients.

We are looking for an experienced Architectural Technologist to join our expanding team on either a full-time or part-time basis (minimum of 25 hours per week).  Applicants should have a minimum of 3 years post qualification experience in a similar role and be able to demonstrate a full range of skills from feasibility designs to detailed planning and building warrant drawings.

Working as part of a cohesive team, you will have the opportunity to work on various residential and small commercial projects.

Candidates should have experience in the following:

  • Carrying out measured surveys
  • Preparing initial sketch and 3D designs, drawings for planning and building warrant applications, including sections, elevations and necessary detailing
  • Understanding and applying Scottish Planning and Building Regulations
  • Identifying and managing risk through coordination of design information in line with project programs
  • Investigating and selecting best materials and processes for projects
  • Communicating both written and verbally with clients, design teams, external consultants and the local authority.
  • Conducting site inspections
  • Arranging 3rd party site investigations, utility checks etc.
  • Assisting junior staff with queries and providing advice and guidance as necessary

A minimum of 3 years of experience in a similar role is essential as is significant experience of AutoCAD LT, Revit, Photoshop and MS Office.

A competitive salary along with company pension is offered.

If you are interested in the role, please forward your CV and portfolio to Audrey Walber at audrey@all-design.co.uk or contact Audrey direct on 07786198490 or 01224 701576.  Please indicate whether you’re applying for a full-time or part-time position and detail your salary expectations.

What to consider when adding a glass extension to your home

Glass Extension
Glass extension, Bridge of Don

What to consider when adding a glass extension to your home

Thinking of adding a glass extension to your home?  We’ve put together this blog to help you get it right…

While you’re spending more time indoors over the Winter months, the idea of adding more space and light to your home, as well as improving its value, may become more appealing. Although adding a conservatory has been a popular choice for some time, unless it includes extra heating and cooling it can be cold in Winter and too hot in Summer. A glass extension offers a more attractive and temperature-controlled alternative.

 

What is a glass extension?

Glass extensions usually comprise a ‘box’ made up of two glass sides and a glass roof or ceiling, but there a range of styles you can go choose between, depending on the style of the property it’s being added on to. More of that later.

They can be installed quickly and easily by specialist or local contractors. The glass panels are held together with a specialist adhesive resin known as structural silicon.

Most glass extensions now use high-quality double glazing made with a thin coating of metal oxide on its outside (also known as Low-E glass) - to allow heat and light to easily enter, while preventing around 80% of the heat from escaping. This way they can be cosy in the winter and comfortable in the Summer.

 

Why get a glass extension?

First and foremost, a glass extension is a great way to offer a seamless view of your garden and accentuate the connection with the outdoors while remaining warm and dry indoors.

A glass extension also adds a Wow-factor and more glamour to your home. That will also add to its value beyond what a simple footprint extension would bring.

Another purpose is to use a glass extension to connect two or more areas of your home.

Period properties often have smaller windows which constrain how much natural light can enter. Adding a glass extension can add a lot of natural light, open up space and add a modern touch to a period home.

 

Style options

While a simple glass box is always the first design option, there are others to discuss with your architectural designer to help the extension blend in well with the rest of your home.

If you don’t fancy a 100% glass design, you can balance the extension with steel or timber frames.

When there's not a lot of room outside, a lean-to extension is a good option as it will still open up the space and bring in extra natural light. Rather than adding a side return extension with rooflights, you can maximize the light by going for a glass roof, made up of either a single piece of glass or glass panels.

You can bring the outdoors even closer, weather permitting, with an ‘open-aspect’ glass extension – in which the outside glass ‘walls’ are glazed bi-fold doors. Two sets can allow the entire extension to be opened up.

When it comes to choosing a frame style, the thinner they are the more stylish your glass extension will look.

The exterior and interior appearance of your glass extension can also be customised with different glazing finishes. Powder-coated aluminium is a good option, but we can show you other ones.

Whether the glazed panels are fixed, bi-fold or slide open can also make a big difference to the style of your glass extension. We can show you examples of each.

Finally, a solid roof or a brise-soleil (sun shield) can be added to prevent too much sun from entering the extension. Or blinds can be used to control the light and heat, as well as add privacy when required.

Ultimately, the options are vast, so chat to your designer about what you’re looking for, so they can suggest appropriate options to choose from.

 

Ventilation

Your glass extension can be designed to use natural methods, mechanical ventilation or air conditioning for ventilation.

Trickle ventilators can be built into the frames of the glazing and a small, outward-opening window at high level can allow more ventilation without opening a door.

 

Heat control

Thinking about heat control in your glass extension starts with how not to lose heat via the glazing.

The higher the performance of the glazing, the less heat will be lost and the better the acoustics in your extension will be. So it’s worth paying more for a high-performance system with minimal frames and a low U-value (rate of heat loss). Low E (emissivity) glass should be specified as standard to minimise heat loss.

Once you’ve minimised what will be lost, underfloor heating is a good option, but you should think carefully about the position of the thermostat. Perimeter trench heating can also work in conjunction with underfloor heating, depending on the size of the extension.

Including shading via an overhanging roof, brise-soleil or canopy allows solar gain in the Winter when the angle of the sun is lower and prevents it in Summer when the sun’s higher.

 

Planning permission

In Scotland, you don't need to apply for planning permission if your extension meets the rules covered by 'permitted development'. They depend on how many storeys your extension will have.

If your glass extension will have only one storey, you don't need planning permission as long as:

  • It's located at the back of the house
  • It doesn't go back further than 3 metres if it's a terraced house, or 4 metres if it isn't
  • The height of the eaves (where the wall meets the roof) is no higher than 3 metres
  • It's not higher than 4 metres, including sloping roofs
  • It doesn't cover more ground area than your house does
  • It doesn't take up half the 'curtilage' – the grounds behind your home
  • It isn't within a conservation area

For the details relating to your home, get in touch for a chat as we have extensive experience in working with the Planning departments in several local authorities and can advise accordingly.

 

Cost

Glass extensions for homes are a lot cheaper than they might sound. The cost is dictated by the design you choose and subsequent engineering and testing of the glass you might need shaped for your extension.

As a rule of thumb, you should budget for a minimum of £3,000 per square metre. We can give you a better idea of what yours would cost

There’s more information about home extensions here.

Contact us to arrange a chat if you want to find out more.

 

Get in touch

All Design is a dedicated, friendly team of architectural designers who work alongside external associates and consultants to help people across Scotland find property solutions through carefully-considered designs which respond to their needs, the site, budget and planning policy.

We have more than 30 years of experience in the industry and thrive on using a creative yet practical approach to design to improve space for people.

Our values are: People; Honesty, Delivery; Creativity and Friendly.

Contact us for a FREE quotation.

Glass balustrades add character and warmth to the home

Glass balustrades add character and warmth to the home

Balustrades come in many shapes and sizes, but glass balustrades add a particularly contemporary feel to the home and can work well with traditional homes as well as modern abodes.

We particularly like balustrades with natural oak newels & handrails with glass panels, like the one below, which we completed as part of a loft conversion project recently. It has added character and warmth to this home in Bridge of Don, Aberdeen. The balustrade has become an elegant feature in the hallway and has added significant light and brightness to a previously unnoticed stairway.

Glass balustrade staircase
Staircase Loft conversion

Structural Balustrades

Structural glass can be used without handrails to support the treads of a stairwell. Their beauty is seamless and timeless but of course, all importantly, they provide functionality. An example of structural glass balustrades is seen below in a refurbishment design project that All Design completed on a home converted from an old listed mill in Aberdeenshire. A structural glass floor was also used on the base of the staircase to expose some of the original watermill cogs.

 

Structural Glass staircase
Structural glass staircase, Aberdeenshire

Outdoor Glass Balustrades

Glass balustrades can also be used outdoors and can look stylish and almost invisible on a balcony or veranda. The glass balustrade below was a feature developed as part of a garage re-design project that All Design completed on a house in Aberdeenshire. It is supported by aluminium posts and glass panels. It makes good use of space and adds to the panoramic views of the beautiful countryside surrounding the property.

Glass balustrade balcony over garage
balustrade balcony garage design

Providing essential safety

Using a glass balustrade on an external balcony provides essential safety, but with a view. Below, is a recently completed design by All Design that includes a chrome and glass balustrade system used as a balcony feature for an extension project in Aberdeenshire.

steading extension

For more information on glass balustrades, please contact us directly.

Planning permission secured for Steading Extension

steading extension design

Planning permission secured for this stylish steading extension

Planning permission secured for this stylish steading extension

Planning permission has now been secured for this styling steading extension in Aberdeenshire, which will add both character and style to this already tasteful property.

The brief was to extend the one bedroom property to provide more living space and two new bedrooms.

Our proposed new East facing, 1.5 storey extension, more than doubles the footprint of the original house. It provides lots of additional light on both floors, a new master bedroom with en-suite and the landing area opens out onto a large glass framed balcony with a fabulous countryside view. There are two new double bedrooms on the first floor and at ground floor level, there’s a new large open plan kitchen/dining/family/games room, which will open out onto a new decked/patio area.

 

Current steading
Proposed design for steading extension

Stylish steading extension design for Aberdeenshire home

steading extension design

Stylish extension design for steading home

Stylish extension design for steading home

All Design is currently working on the design of a steading extension for this home in Aberdeenshire, which will add both character and style to this already tasteful property.

The brief was to extend the one bedroom property to provide more living space and two new bedrooms.

Our proposed new East facing, 1.5 storey extension, more than doubles the footprint of the original house. It provides lots of additional light on both floors, a new master bedroom with en-suite and the landing area opens out onto a large glass framed balcony with a fabulous countryside view. There are two new double bedrooms on the first floor and at ground floor level, there’s a new large open plan kitchen/dining/family/games room ,which will open out onto a new decked/patio area.

 

Current steading
Proposed design for steading extension