A Guide to Loft Extensions – What you Need to Know

If you are the head of a growing family and it’s increasingly obvious you are in need of extra living space, this article might come in very useful, as we delve into the details of building a loft extension. Many Australian homeowners choose a loft extension rather than a traditional building extension, largely due to the cheap cost.

Costing the project

The best way forward is to ask a local builder to give you a detailed breakdown of the cost; talk to one of the established North Shore electricians for a full breakdown of wiring the space. You should not need planning permission for an attic conversion, as you are not extending the building lines and that makes things much easier.

Sourcing a local architect

Once you have decided to go ahead with the project, the next step is to hire a local architect to draw up the plans. Much like other building projects, blueprints need to be drawn up with a loft conversion; if you outsource to a local builder, they handle the plans and everything else.

The process

A loft conversion doesn’t require walls or a roof, as they are already in place, the first thing to do is widen the access hatch, which is typically only big enough for a person to enter. Once the hatch has been widened, the next step is to add dropdown stairs for easier access; then you can remove everything from the attic and start to install a chipboard floor.

Plywood cladding

The walls and ceiling need to be cladded with marine grade plywood, fill all the cracks with filler, sand it down and you are ready for paint or wallpaper. Pipes and cables need to be concealed; if you have a water tank in the loft, this needs to be encased in timber and a small door built to access the controls. Here are a few stylish features you might wish to include.

Skylights & ventilation

Your attic needs natural light and a decent airflow and that involves installing at least 2 skylights, which can be opened or closed. Some homeowners add a bay window installed into the roof, which gives you more space.

Loft insulation

Assuming you already had loft insulation, that has to be removed and located behind the cladded walls and ceiling to ensure the loft is well-insulated. Insulation is important to minimise energy use; keeping the interior cool in the summer, while retaining the heat in the colder winter months.

Electrical wiring

This should be done before the cladding and your local North Shore electrician can quickly wire up the loft, ensuring you have lighting and a few power points. Once the wiring is complete, the electrician can connect to the mains and you are good to go.

If you are planning to get a local builder to do the work, ask several to quote for the project, and then you can make an informed decision.