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Please help - loft being converted with v low head height

(92 Posts)
cunningplan101 Wed 15-Apr-15 13:14:54

I need your help as I am having a bit of a panic. Does anyone here have a loft conversion with a top head height of only 6 feet?

I'm in the process of having our loft converted. On the plans, it does make clear that the height at the apex will be 6 feet. I guess I had just never really taken on board what this meant. This morning I climbed up into the loft via the scaffolding and could see it for the first time with the new beams in and the builders indicated where the new floor height will be. I'm now rather in a panic that this room will be totally un-usable.

One thing that has been giving me confidence all this while is that I visited a property with a loft conversion on the same terrace as mine when it was up for sale. That conversion didn't have a dormer and somehow its ceiling didn't feel oppressively low. It felt like a decent height for a bedroom to me. And we will be having a dormer, so in theory our room will feel bigger. But that was quite some time ago. I'm now panicking that maybe their end of the terraced street somehow has higher loft heights than our end!!

Can anyone reassure me that you can have a usable loft bedroom with a ceiling height of 6 feet? Or do you think this is a v bad idea?

Quitelikely Wed 15-Apr-15 13:19:25

If I was you I would give your neighbours a knock to ask about their conversion.

6ft would feel quite claustrophobic to me and would a wardrobe even fit in it? Some might I suppose.

Another thing you could do is get a huge cardboard box, flatten it all then get your dh to hold it 6ft from the floor. Walk under it to see how it would feel.

That last suggestion seems slightly silly but it's all I'm out of ideas! smile

Pootles2010 Wed 15-Apr-15 13:19:55

Wow. Thats quite low! Standard is 2.1m, yours is 1.8 m. How tall are you and your OH?!

Is there anything the builders can do about it?

Don't forget, it will look lighter and brighter when windows are in, all painted white etc.

LIZS Wed 15-Apr-15 13:21:03

Will it meet buildings regs ? I thought you needed a certain height above the stairwell.

Pootles2010 Wed 15-Apr-15 13:21:23

Also don't forget - your neighbours may have had their first floor ceilings lowered - this was offered to my parents when they were looking at conversions.

BrianButterfield Wed 15-Apr-15 13:36:40

It does seem very low - my DH wouldn't even be able to stand up in there!

cunningplan101 Wed 15-Apr-15 13:56:41

So apparently it may be closer to 6ft 3 or 6 ft 4, in case that makes any difference

Pootles2010 Wed 15-Apr-15 14:08:53

Certainly better than original! Can they do anything to change it?

sunnyeastermorning Wed 15-Apr-15 14:14:01

won't meet building regs at 6". Not sure what the minimum is. 6 4" would be just about ok, but that's the maximum, right? so most of the room will be lower than that? Def wouldn't work for us...

cunningplan101 Wed 15-Apr-15 14:57:44

So it'll be just under 6ft 3 through out the dormer area but yes sloping down from there. I've followed up the neighbouring loft and apparently that was 6ft 5 and they had lowered the ceilings below. As the conversion has already started, think am rather stuck with it now. Will have to do my best to make it feel quaint and cottagey

meadowquark Wed 15-Apr-15 15:22:12

My loft was of similar height and I looked at various options to convert, all of which were either very expensive or very disruptive, and so I decided to move instead.

cunningplan101 Wed 15-Apr-15 15:29:57

It'll be 1.9m, and I guess the one I saw was 1.95m ... although with no dormer.

Trying to keep calm. An hour ago, before my last message, I was ready to pull the plug on the whole thing. I even asked what the cost would be to give up on the whole thing and restore it to how it was before. But they said that'll cost almost £15k. So I guess better to go ahead and spend £30k and get a semi-usable room than lost £15k and get nothing? I don't know how it's got to this stage and I'm only getting the reality now.

PrimalLass Wed 15-Apr-15 15:45:49

I thought building regs was 6ft6?

LIZS Wed 15-Apr-15 15:58:46

https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/sites/www.cambridge.gov.uk/files/docs/Guide to loft conversions.pdf
This may help for reference - see p.12/3 minimum height of 2m above stair and 1.9 at apex.

cunningplan101 Wed 15-Apr-15 16:00:07

I've googled and there are no building regs for a loft height ceiling.

The only rule is that there must be a min head height of 1.9m above the stairs.

Most loft conversion sites seem to state that 1.9m is the minimum practical height for a loft. So mine will not be below the industry recommendation, but it is right at the lower limit.

cunningplan101 Wed 15-Apr-15 16:01:11

Thanks LIZS, we cross-posted.

BlackbirdOnTheWire Wed 15-Apr-15 16:03:14

Is it too late/expensive/impractical to drop the ceilings of the rooms below? A neighbour and a family member both did this and it made a big difference to the loft but very little difference to the floor below.

Pootles2010 Wed 15-Apr-15 16:03:26

Might it be worth pausing the project, and getting another builder/surveyor in for a second opinion?

cunningplan101 Wed 15-Apr-15 16:25:52

OK, so... thanks to the wisdom of Mumsnet, I've asked them to cost up lowering the ceilings. I think the work will pause until they've done that.

Grinstead Wed 15-Apr-15 16:38:59

Would it be possible to raise the roof ? I know that's what some of our Neighbours have done to get an extra few centimetres.
Also is the room for kids . If so 1.9m will be fine unless you have very tall kids!

cunningplan101 Wed 15-Apr-15 16:54:31

We're in a conservation area so not possible to raise the roof unfortunately.

I'd like to use it as a proper adult bedroom ideally.

Has anyone had ceilings lowered and know how much it cost?

newstart15 Wed 15-Apr-15 17:19:07

What stage are you at? Has steels been added? I would recommend a rethink as you could regret not taking action especially when you have had the pain and cost of a rebuild.We went back around planning as we realised that the room would not be right. I am so, so glad we did!

Lowering ceilings shouldn't be a major job but could be highly disruptive to your house. What part of the loft are you converting - does it cover the whole upper floor house.

Taking ceilings out is very messy and of course the rooms need to be cleared but they can be put back quickly in a few days, then plastering and decorating. If you are doing this (as I suspect it will be worth it) then I would also think about additional soundproofing whilst it's going on.

mandy214 Wed 15-Apr-15 17:37:32

We were in a similar position of considering it and getting estimates (and then deciding against it) but if it helps, the additional cost of lowering the ceilings was not massive compared to the overall cost of the conversion (I think maybe £5k?). I think we needed an extra 20cm?? Our loft was 2.1m (before any work started) and 1.93cm at the apex and the company said we needed to lower the ceilings or else it would only be useful as a child's room and we'd never get the costs back if we ever came to sell.

There is also a way of using thinner steels / joists than usual to save a few cm here and there which sounds something you need to consider.

If your builder says it would be around £5k to lower the ceilings, and will give you a more useable space, I think it would be worth the disruption.

Good luck, hope you can get it sorted!

cunningplan101 Wed 15-Apr-15 18:23:10

Thanks very much to everyone for your replies

Newstart and Mandy that's v useful - thanks

Yes steels have already been added, but the builder thinks he may be able to "drop them down". He has also laid the floor joists I think but nothing else has gone in yet. The loft is over the living room and two downstairs bedrooms, but not over the kitchen or bathroom (Edwardian maisonette)

I'm feeling like lowering the ceilings is the right thing to do, just wish I'd figured this out earlier! Or that the loft company had suggested it earlier. But I guess better now one week into the build than at the endend. Fingers crossed the quote comes in at a price we can do

cunningplan101 Wed 15-Apr-15 18:32:42

And the loft company are being cooperative about it all, considering they've just been building to the plans I approved, so I can't really blame them

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