Grand Designs Live
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The architect and presenter of Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces and The Restoration Man shares his latest tips and ideas.

George Clarke on converting a loft 1

Whether it’s a conversion in an old property or a cleverly fitted room in a new-build, I love an attic. Often they’re only used for storage, but there’s so much potential there – it seems a shame not to take advantage of their unusual shapes and elevated views to create an inspiring new interior.

Designing an attic zone in a new-build is fairly straightforward, but if you’d like to convert an existing area into habitable space, there are a few rules you need to abide by. First, check with your local planning department to see what you can and can’t do (see planningportal.gov.uk). Dormer windows will give you much-needed head height, while carefully positioned skylights are instrumental in bringing in natural light, but both these elements can be affected by planning restrictions in your area. My advice would be to speak to a good architect, who should be able to design the space for you while taking into account any regulations. Visit the RIBA website to find a national database of chartered architects (architecture.com).

Another critical feature is the position of your new staircase – this can affect both how often you’ll use the new space, and how it impacts on the floor below. As it requires far more structural expertise than other building work, it’s best to employ a builder and structural engineer who are experienced in loft conversion.

I’ve just put in a planning application for my own attic, and I’m sure that when it’s finished it will be the best room in the house – I can’t wait to start using it.

 George Clarke on converting a loft 2

Credit: Jefferson Smith; Chris Tubbs

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