Loft Conversion Construction Terminology

loft conversion example

You might have come jargon surrounding loft conversions and extensions, which can seem confusing at first. It’s not as complicated as it first appears though, so here are some of the more commonly used technical terms and industry jargon you’re likely to come across when doing a loft conversion, to help you understand and communicate with builders and architects more easily.

Builders finish – The definition of a ‘builder’s finish’ can vary a little but it usually includes fitting plug sockets and light fittings, skirting boards and architraves as well as plastering. It doesn’t usually include any type of decorating, tiling or carpeting. Make sure you check exactly how your builder defines this and what is included if you are using a separate builder and decorator.

Dormer loft conversion – This type of loft conversion involves adding dormer windows (projecting out from the slope of the roof) to increase the usable floor area and give extra head height. As it doesn’t make drastic changes to the roof it is relatively cost effective and usually (thought not always) doesn’t require planning permission.

Hip-to-gable loft conversion – This type of loft conversion is suitable for houses with a ‘hipped’ roof (a sloping side). It extends the building on the sloping side, replacing the sloped roof with a vertical wall (gable) to the same height as the ridge and filling in the extra space in between.

Mansard loft conversion – This is created by raising the party walls (those shared with neighbouring properties) on each side of the house and adding a frame betwen these to new extensions. The rear has a shallow slope backwards, giving a slightly lower ceiling height than in a dormer of the same size.

(There is more detailed information about various sorts of loft conversions in our blog post Different Types of Loft Conversion.)

Rafters – These are the beams forming part of the internal framework of a roof. These make a loft conversion easier than roof trusses (see below).

Roof light – These are windows that are created in the ceiling (often sloped in a loft conversion) for extra light. They’re also sometimes called skylights and Velux is the most well known brand.

Roof pitch – This refers to the angle of the roof, i.e. how steeply it slopes.

Roof trusses – These are timber frameworks that support your roof by spanning the cross-section of a loft space. They generally make a loft conversion more difficult and expensive.

Shell conversion – This refers to a conversion where only the structural work is done by the builders, leaving the rest to you. It typically includes doing the structural timber work and making the loft space watertight, as well as fitting internal stud walls, windows, doors, basic flooring and a staircase.

We hope this helps you to understand some of the terminology a bit better. You can also see our previous blog post about Planning Permissions and Building Regulations for more information about these terms.

If you’re considering a loft conversion, give us a call. We’ll be happy to listen to your requirements and help explain anything you’re unsure about jargon free and with no obligation.

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