I would like to convert my loft to a become a bedroom but I don’t have enough room to fit a staircase.

I would be quite happy to access the room via a loft-ladder from the landing below.

Would this be permitted by building regs in Scotland?

  • Lindsey Davis

    Hi Mark,

    In short, no it won’t be permitted.

    Building Regs in Scotland are handled by the Scottish government but follow the same rules as those in England and Wales so the advice we have on Building Regs and loft conversions on our site will apply to you. (https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/loft-conversion-building-regulations-and-planning-permission/)

    Under the building regs, you have to have a means of escape that allows occupants of the house to escape without being affected by the smoke or fire. Having a loft ladder to a bedroom in the roof space is not deemed a fireproof means of escape so it would not be passed.

    I’ve had a similar problem with our loft conversion because we have a teeny two-up-two-down so fitting the stairs in is going to be an issue. If you turn it into a bedroom and just use a loft ladder (at your own risk) then it won’t be signed off by a building inspector, so when you come to sell you can’t advertise it as a bedroom.

    So, you have to weigh up whether it is worth the expense.

    I’ve gone through a few options on my blog including the possibility of a sprinkler system. You can read about it here: https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/loft-conversion-and-building-regulation-woes/

    Our designer has got back to us with plans now and at the moment the only option seems to be creating a fireproof corridor and lobby (with fire door) and a means of escape window on the first floor from this lobby. The designer thinks alternating riser stairs (like these: http://www.stairplan.com/spacesaver.htm) are going to be best to save space.

    Hope that gives you a few more options,

  • Mark Hannah

    Hi Lindsey,

    Thanks for the fantastic reply.
    So I think turning the attic into a bone-fide bedroom won’t be possible then. 🙁

    I am now wondering if it is feasible to fit a suspended floor, and clad the rafters with plasterboard to create a space that fits somewhere between being a ‘dusty attic’ and a genuine signed-off bedroom.

    Were you planning to do your projecty on a DIY basis?


  • Lindsey Davis

    Hi Mark,

    Happy to help.

    You could board the loft, or yes put in a proper floor, insulate and plasterboard the rafters and create a glorified storage area that you sleep in.

    I guess you would want some windows though, so you need to decide if the added costs of making it liveable will be worth it as you won’t get the return of calling it a bedroom. Both of my next door neighbours have had loft conversions. One has not done it according to building regs but has made good use of the floor space so it could make a fair sized bedroom, but they can’t advertise it as such. It has been on the market for 6 months with little interest so far.

    The other side was on sale when I bought mine. They have done it according to building regs and made a lobby with fire door. They have also had to put a fire door downstairs in the kitchen and lost space there. It has been on the market for over a year. We looked at it and were put off by the fact there was little space in the loft and although it could be used as a bedroom, there wasn’t enough space because of where they had put the stairs. It will cost a lot to sort and this seems to be putting others off. They have taken it off the market while they remodel.

    My point is that a poorly done loft conversion adds nothing to a house.

    If I was you, I would look into seeing where you could fit an alternate riser staircase and I’m told there are mini sprinkler systems that could help you with the means of escape issue.

    We are getting somebody to do ours to at least first fix, then I will try and do as much of the rest as possible on a DIY basis (we’ll get an electrician in of course).


  • Mark Hannah

    Thanks for all the information Lindsey.

    Presumably the sprinklers have to be fitted throughout the whole property and not just in the loft area?

    I followed some of your links and the sprinkler systems do sound quite impressive – something I might consider for the future regardless of what I do with the loft. (I just can’t get the image of being woken up in the middle of night in a soggy house due to a faulty sprinkler valve out of my head though).


  • Lindsey Davis

    I too was worried about the idea of a flooded house, but water is less devastating than fire.
    I did a bit of research and according to this piece on our site (https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/do-homes-need-sprinklers/) a sprinkler system delivers about 60litres of water a minute. Sounds a lot, but compare that to the 1,000 litres a minute a fire hose delivers to put out a fire and I know which I would rather.

    They’re had a bad press being accidentally triggered in schools and public building, but I think this is usually down to the system being set off by vandals, rather than fires. Most systems need temperatures of 68 degrees celcius to activate. Thats not so low that it will be triggered by a hot day, but not so high that it won’t go off when needed.

    One thing to really consider is the piping. The mini systems don’t need as much room, but the common system needs ceiling cavities of 125mm.

    And yep, you need to have them throughout so that they can stop a fire wherever it starts – the point being to stop the spread at all. Each head covers 15m2 though, so unless you have massive open plan spaces, you won’t need that many heads.

    No problem. I hope you have success with your project.


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