Loft conversion stairs
Sometimes, moving house or buying a bigger property simply isn’t an affordable option and so creating space in an existing property is key for those looking to expand. Loft conversions are one of the most common architectural projects that homeowners embark on to economise on space for extra storage, another bedroom or perhaps an office.
One of the most common questions an architectural designer is asked when planning a loft conversion, is how and where to position the loft stairs. When creating loft conversion plans, the loft stairs are one of the key design elements to consider – due to space, practicality and feasibility.
Loft conversion plans
When creating loft conversion plans, homeowners need to consider whether the staircase should be straight or spiral. Both options are suitable for loft conversion projects, but there are pros and cons to both. Straight loft conversion stairs are usually simpler to install and therefore, usually more cost
effective when planning a loft conversion. The downside though, is that these types of loft stairs take up more space on the floor beneath and therefore may not be suitable for narrow hallways or when designing a loft in a house that has limited rooms or space. Some architectural designers may even suggest designing loft stairs in one of the bedrooms on the floor below, in order to incorporate them into the final architectural plans. Spiral loft stairs are another option to consider when designing a loft conversion. Spiral staircases are space saving and usually feature designs that complement the interior design. Spiral loft stairs, however, can be more costly as they tend to be more complicated to design and to install – but they will add to the overall design whilst intruding on as little space as possible.
The addition of loft stairs when designing architectural plans will immediately create a room that is accessible and useable, perhaps as a spare bedroom or as an office. ‘Pull down’ loft stairs can only be used for storage within the loft but not for everyday use. Of course, there are other considerations to keep in mind when planning a loft conversion and planning permission guidelines and building regulations must be followed but an architectural designer will be able to offer guidance and create architectural plans in line with local authority planning rules.
The location of the stairs is also a key consideration when creating loft conversion plans – ideally they should be positioned in line with the ridge of the roof so that there is ample head height when entering the loft. The minimum height required by building control is 2 metres above the pitch line. The other consideration when planning loft stairs for a loft conversion project, is the design of the floor beneath and how practical stairs would be if they were positioned on that floor. An architectural designer would have to consider both building control regulations and the feasibility of designing stairs where there is little or no space to accommodate them.
Minimum loft height for conversion
Another factor when designing stairs for a loft conversion project, would be the head height required to safely enter the loft. When considering access, the number of steps required to safely access the loft space, as well as the pitch height of the roof needs to be incorporated into the loft conversion plans. Building regulations stipulate that there can be no more than 16 steps in one line and that the maximum rise should be 220m and minimum depth of a step should be 220mm for a loft conversion project. Balustrades would also be needed for loft conversion stairs and building regulations require that they are positioned at a minimum height of 900mm and have spindles with gaps that are no larger than 100mm. So, even though some loft conversion projects can be done under permitted development, the requirement for architectural plans that comply with building regulations are crucial.