Loft conversions are tricky work. There is so much that goes into their planning, building and finishing. It’s understandable that, as normal people, we will have next to no idea what most of the jargon and technical language means. Any loft conversion should be agreed in an informed manner. This means you should understand as much of what you’re signing up to as possible – including all those technical terms. So, today we bring you our jargon buster. We’ve picked up a list of the most popular (and sometimes confusing terms) used during a loft conversion and broken them down. So, browse through and learn everything you need to know before proceeding with your renovation.
Something we’re very passionate about here at Skylight Blinds – attic windows. These are windows specifically designed for use in loft conversions and used to bring light into the room. They are also known as skylight windows or loft windows. There are a number of different brands and styles to choose from, including the popular brands such as VELUX ® through to the lesser known brands including Dakea ® or Rooflite ®.
A building and construction term, battens are strips of sawn timber. They are normally fitted on to rafters (see below) to help provide support for new tiles or slates.
Another wooden addition, binders are small chunks of timber. They can be found across the top of a loft’s ceiling rafter as extra support. Again, this is a building and construction term.
Refers to a phase of construction towards the end. Where builders remove a portion of the ceiling from the story beneath the loft and fit a new staircase.
You may hear your builders take about offers a ‘builder finish’. This means that they will likely complete the job to the point where they can fit plug socket, light fittings, skirting boards, architraves and plastering. In most cases, this won’t include finishing touches such as decorating, tiling or carpentry. These specifics should be confirmed with your builder before you sign any contract. Ensuring you fully understand how your room will look once they leave will prevent any disappointment.
These are a set of minimum standards laid out in by the government that dictates the safety requirements of any building in the UK. They ensure that every single project complies with the relevant health and safety requirements in place to protect people in and around buildings. These regulations will also dictate requirements for energy conservation, security and access. Failure to comply with building regulations or the failure to apply for building control approval is against the law. For more information on this, see our previous post here.
As we have mentioned in a previous blog post (see here), a dormer loft conversion is one that protrudes out from your existing sloping roof. You will ordinarily find them located to the rear of a property. Dormer conversions are the most popular form of renovation. This is due to them being relatively cheap in comparison to other conversions.
Fire Check Door
For the safety of everyone using the building, a fire check door is a specially designed and fitted door. It is able to withstand the high temperatures produced by a fire for an extended period of time. They are designed to block the chosen passes for a specified time to allow those inside to escape or help to arrive. Fire check doors are an essential requirement in order to qualify for building regulations and building control approval.
These are another form of loft conversion (see the previous post for more information). A hip-to-gable renovation requires your builder to extend the peak of a sloping roof – also known as a ‘hip’. This will create a vertical ‘gable’ wall, thereby creating more internal space within your loft conversion. Hip-to-gable loft conversions are only suitable for semi-detached and detached houses due to their design. They are also relatively expensive due to the extensive construction work needed on the roof and building structure.
Load bearing refers to areas of the loft or house structure which bears the weight of an imposed load. You will ordinarily find a load bearing wall at some point in your home. Common examples of this will include brick walls or timber posts found within the structure.
The main focus of our entire guide, a loft conversion is the adaption of the roof above the house into a living area. There are a number of different conversion options available to homeowners (read our previous blog here for full information). Loft conversions generally add a considerable value to your property as well as providing your family with more space for living.
Again, another form of loft conversion (see post for more information). A mansard conversion commonly runs along the length of a property’s roof. In order to built, they require the angle of the roof slope to be changed in such a manner that it is almost vertical. Out of all the loft conversions we have discussed in our guide, a mansard is one of the most expensive. However, they are ideal for most kinds of property and offer a large degree of internal space. You will commonly see them in high-rise and densely populated areas such as main cities.
Party Wall Agreement
If your loft conversion involves work on a wall that is both yours and your neighbour, you may need to obtain a Party Wall Agreement. This is a formal document that you, as the property owner, should draw up and deliver to your neighbour. It helps to ensure that no danger or damage will come to your neighbour’s house because of your renovation project. For more information regarding Party Wall Agreements, see our previous post here.
This is an in-built allowance which ensures you are able to perform specified types of work on your property without the need for planning permission. This is usually what you will require in order to proceed with your loft conversion. However, if you are looking to structurally change your roof in order to accommodate a more complicated renovation, check with your local authority before proceeding. For more information on permitted development, visit our previous blog post here.
The ‘roof pitch’ refers to how many inches the roof rises for every 12 inches in depth. In short, it refers to the angle of the slope of your roof and determines what sort of loft conversion you can achieve.
A rafter is a sloping beam which forms a key part in the internal framework of your roof. It offers support and can cause a hindrance to loft conversions where available space is limited.
Again, referring to the structural framework of your roof, a roof truss is made from timber and spans the cross-section of your loft space. Similar to rafters, they provide support for the roof and can be worked into your loft conversion style.
Also known as Rolled Sheet Joist, an RSJ is a cold-formed metal beam. It’s cross section ordinarily resembles the letter ‘L’ and it is used to support newly installed floors. It also helps to strengthen these floors to eliminate the risk of injury.
This is a type of conversion and will only be relevant to certain people. Ordinarily, a shell conversion is one where all of the structural work is undertaken by a building form. It then falls to you to organise or complete the rest of the conversion to an appropriate standard.
Snagging is one of the final steps in any building project – specifically a loft conversion or new build. During this, the homeowners will walk around the new area and take note of defects, mistakes and other things that aren’t right. During the snagging, you should make to raise any issues or problems you encounter and make sure the project has been completed to your exact specifications.
The perfect way to block out loud footsteps or heavy footed family members, this is a form of insulation used to dampen the noise in your home. For loft conversions, it is usually built-in beneath the flooring of your loft space to block out the noise caused from general living.
Thermal insulation is a form of insulation used to prevent heat from escaping from your homes. While this forms part of any building regulation or legal requirements of new builds, it is also beneficial to you. Thermal insulation will help to ensure a home is more energy efficient and maintained at a comfortable temperature. In turn, this can reduce your energy bills during winter.
This is a type of framework which can be used to extend the internal space in a loft conversion. Trusses are generally made from timber and offer strength to your roof structure.
VELUX ® is a popular and revered brand of skylight window. In time, the term ‘VELUX ®’ has also been used to describe a specific type of loft conversion (see more information here on a previous blog). VELUX ®
conversions are one of the cheapest and involve simply fitting a number of their branded roof windows.
As we make our way through the Skylight Blinds Direct Loft Conversion Guide, you may encounter a term or phrase that is unfamiliar to you. While we will always do our best to explain every technical term in detail, it is important you understand as much as possible. Discuss these terms with your builder or architect. They are there to support you as you build your dream loft conversion. They should also ensure that you are able to make fully informed decisions at all times. Make sure to ask as many questions as needed for you to get a clear grip of what is happening in your home.
Choosing to have a loft conversion built is a brilliant way to gain space and value on your property. As we have discussed over our previous posts, there is a lot of planning, work and legal requirements involved. That is where our Guide aims to help, by giving you the tools and information you need to move forward. If you have any questions throughout, please contact us here or speak to our friendly sales team. They are always on hand to advise and offer support throughout. And, they’re also brilliantly educated on the benefits, properties and beauty of skylight blinds – once your conversion is completed of course!