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Meet the Expert: Is your attic ready for a conversion?

An attic conversion is often a solution many homeowners turn to when searching for more space in their homes.

If you are also considering an attic conversion, our member Dean Inglis from Apex Attics is here to help with answers to questions on what you need to know and how to get started.


Onlinetradesmen (OLT): Can my attic space be converted?

Dean: If you are considering an attic conversion, the first step is to measure the dimensions of the current space. You will want to note the pitch of the roof and floor area.

Floor area dimensions get calculated by measuring the attic length by its width, but the roof pitch will determine the scope of the conversion.

For a habitable space, you’ll want a clearance of 2.4m for 50% of the floor area.

Finished conversions can vary from about 70% of the pre-conversion area – so you’ll quickly know if the space will support an attic conversion and offer the value you are seeking.


OLT: Do I need planning permission to convert my attic?

Dean: Many attics get converted as ‘non-habitable’ space under existing building regulations, which means such conversions are exempt from planning.

Non-habitable attic conversions are typically converted with Velux windows, insulation, ventilation, electrics and plumbing and work well for homeowners seeking additional storage space, a playroom, an office or a guest room.

Converting an attic into a 'habitable' space requires a minimum ceiling height of 2.2m for more than 50% of the area. Installing a dormer window will extend the headroom and satisfy building regulations. It also offers the homeowner a space deemed compliant for living and sleeping.

Regardless of a ‘habitable’ or ‘non-habitable’ attic conversion, any modifications to a home must comply with building regulations.

There must be sufficient space for the stairwell on the floor landing beneath the conversion to comply with fire and building regulations.

The stairs cannot exceed a 42-degree pitch and must be 800mm wide. Along with a permanent stairwell, you’ll also need a window or roof light and fire-resistant floor beams, insulation, and ventilation.


OLT: What is the typical attic conversion build schedule?

Dean: The exact process can vary from client to client, but the following is a typical schedule of what a homeowner can expect when embarking on an attic conversion project.

  1. A structural engineer will be essential to structural planning, including altering truss roofs or adding a raised-roof extension. An engineer will deem the conversion structurally safe and will be required to certify for regulation purposes.
  2. If a dormer window is planned, then an architect can assist with planning and finesse design.
  3. Electrical wiring will need to be assessed by a qualified electrician to understand what is to be removed, added, or rerouted.
  4. Fitting new floor joists. This will modify the roof weight to load-bearing external walls. For example, when the roof is built with a truss, the trussed roof beams are removed, and steel beams are installed across the length of the floor to create new floor joists.


  1. First-fix plumbing. The bathroom (if planned) will require a first-fix plumbing plus many attics will have a water tank to disconnect, relocate and reconnect in an accessible spot under the eaves.
  2. Floors are insulated and structural steel supporting the new attic floor should be encased in fireproofing.
  3. Floorboards positioned. Water-resistant floorboards are fitted in the ensuite or shower room area.
  4. Existing roof structure purlins, structs and collars are safely removed and rafters reinforced per engineering guidelines.


  1. Dormer or Velux windows installed. When installing a dormer, this is when the roof is opened up (weather permitting).
  2. Staircase fitted. Lower-level room modifications may be required to meet building regulations.
  3. Dormers to be tiled, cladded, or plastered plus windows and vents fitted.
  4. Roof insulated. Insulation positioned between the rafters, including spacing for appropriate ventilation.
  5. Partition walls fitted and plasterboard attached.
  6. First-fix. Wallplates to allow for fitting items like radiators, electrical sockets and switches.
  7. Eaves panels installed to allow access to water, electrics, and storage.
  8. Plasterboard and plastering
  9. Second-fix carpentry fitted. Includes architrave and skirting.
  10. Second-fix electrical and plumbing finishes may include radiators and lighting.
  11. Painting & Decoration. Installing finishes like hardwood, carpet or laminate flooring.
  12. Building compliance and certification. If you decide to sell, you can provide a certificate of compliance for the modification you have made to the house and structural changes pose no risk to the household.


OLT: How much will an attic conversion cost?

Dean: A semi-detached ‘non-habitable’ attic conversion starts from €1,500 per sqm and will take between 3-4 weeks to complete.

A fully finished ‘habitable’ dormer attic conversion including one bedroom and one bathroom start at €60,000.

The final cost will depend on the desired finish and design and ensure that all work is certified before project completion.

If the space allows you to convert your attic into a ‘habitable space’ you’ll need to comply with fire and building regulations. Check if there is sufficient space for a stairwell on the landing of the floor beneath the conversion.

Only employ qualified trade professionals and ensure that all work is certified. Check with your local planning authority if you have any queries concerning planning requirements.

With over 20 years of experience, Apex Attics can deliver your ideal attic or dormer attic conversion to the highest of standards on a budget that works for you.

Dean and his team cover the greater Dublin area, including the surrounding counties of Meath, Kildare and Wicklow.

For a no-obligation quote, contact Dean direct on 087-705-0026 or post a job with Onlinetradesmen to find qualified and rated attic builders and trade professionals near you.


About the Author


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