What good is a loft conversion without stairs? And what good are the stairs if they’re not functional or don’t meet the building regulations?
It’s about more than just practicality. The fact is that poorly design loft stairs can (and often do) fail building inspections. And altering dodgy staircases can be costly.
Despite common opinion, there are several ways to design and position the stairs for your loft conversion. And ensuring that they look good, and function well, is super important.
At Combit Construction, specialist loft conversion company in North London, we understand what it takes to design stairs that tick all the boxes. That’s why we’ve taken the time to put together this guide to ensure that your staircase is right, first time round:
1. Involve the Experts
Planning and building a staircase is no job for a novice. That’s why we recommend that you involve the experts from the get-go.
An architect can help you design and position your stairs to maximize both form and function. Also, they’re in touch with the building regulations which are relevant to your property, so they can plan with that in mind.
Your builder or renovating team are another invaluable source of guidance and information when it comes to loft ideas for home. Talk to them about any concerns you might have about your loft conversion and its access.
2. Where Should the Stairs be Positioned?
Positioning the stairs is important to the overall functionality of your new loft conversion.
If it’s possible to locate the new staircase directly above an existing flight of stairs, this may be your best solution – not only is it convenient, but it’s also a great way to save space.
However, if you can’t position the new staircase directly above an original one, it’s not the end of the world! Think about options for independent placing of your new loft stairs, keeping in mind that the new staircase will take up a chunk of the room below. When it comes to deciding where the staircase departs the lower floor and arrives at the floor above, it’s a case of working out what will work best for your home.
A light consultant (or often an architect) will also be able to highlight any potential blockages that could happen. Although this may only be at certain times of the day, it’s worth making sure that the staircase will not cause too much of an encumbrance, comments James Durr of sell house fast authority experts Property Solvers.
3. Allow Enough Headroom
In most situations, Building Regulations stipulate a minimum of 2m of headroom along the entire length of a staircase. And because stairs are associated with higher risk of falling and other injury, your building inspector is likely to be strict on making sure that they’re done right!
However, when it comes to loft stairs, the regulations recognize that sloped ceilings often need to be accommodated, and the minimum requirements may be slightly less. Talk to your builder about what will be required for your project.
4. How Can I Make More Headroom?
Sometimes it can be tricky to position a staircase where it maximizes space efficiency as well as headroom. We understand the challenges associated with positioning staircases – all too often, the ultimate position upstairs results in the staircase landing in the middle of a bedroom or kitchen downstairs!
To ensure that you have enough headroom you may need to consider creating extra space for the staircase by installing a dormer window upstairs or positioning the stairs directly under the highest part of the roof, which is the gable.
Any alterations to the roof structure which may be needed to accommodate the staircase must be factored into your project in the design stage.
5. Staircase Designs for Homes
There’s plenty of loft stairs ideas out there, but generally they look best if they’re designed to match in with the main stairs of the house. This is particularly important if the new staircase is positioned directly above the original one.
Not enough space for one straight flight of stairs? L-turns, which are created with tapered stairs or landings, are often used to work around awkward obstacles or where vertical space is limited.
Spiral staircases are a great way to save space and add a subtle twist of elegance (excuse the pun)! Fixed ladders are another alternative where space is tight. It is important to note that retractable ladders are not an acceptable option.
6. Turn Your Staircase into a Feature
Ok, stairs are a necessary part of a loft conversion, but why not turn your staircase into a design feature?
Staircases are a great way to add vertical drama – they’re constructed in double height spaces and offer great opportunities for creating something aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. If you’re prepared to spend an extra pound or two, it’s not hard to ensure that your staircase is something that is guaranteed to turn heads.
- Colour is a great way to add character and elegance. Remember, your staircase is a high traffic area, so depending on the overall theme of your new loft conversion, you may wish to stick to a darker, more practical overall scheme. That being said, bright colours are making a comeback across the UK, so why not go all out and create something that will really impress?!
- Contrast creates drama, and by painting the stairs a lighter colour than the walls, you can turn your staircase into a beautiful, eye-catching feature.
- Stair runners are about more than practicality. They’re another great way to add colour and style up your new loft conversion.
- If railings are part of your new staircase, add extra charm by choosing trendy or decorative ones. There’s no shortage of ideas out there, from traditional decorative timber and wrought iron to modern glass panels and wire balustrading… the only limit is your imagination!
7. Don’t Waste Under-Stair Space
Maximizing storage is a top priority for most homeowners, so why not use the opportunity of a new staircase to create some extra cupboards? The space underneath your staircase can be turned into a fully functional storage area for kids’ toys, household items or sports equipment.
If your loft conversion and staircase is part of a bigger renovation project, you may even consider turning your under-stair space into a laundry or powder room. There are some super creative and gorgeous ideas out there, so do your research and make the most of every square inch!
Igor and the team at Combit Construction, specialist loft conversion company in North London, can help you achieve the perfect loft conversion for your home. We understand what it takes to create spaces that are both beautiful and functional, and our team is here to help you every step of your renovation journey. Good Luck!