Moving the Staircase to Our Loft: A Case Study
Nine years ago the Scott family converted the loft in their Victorian terrace into a fourth bedroom. They took advice from their builder on where to position the staircase but four years later decided it needed to be moved.Mary, 41, explained what happened.
The Loft Conversion“This was a two storey, three bedroomed house when we moved into it 14 years ago. At the time we had two very small children so it was ideal. We had a master bedroom, a children’s bedroom and a study/guest room.
“After four or five years we decided it would be nice for our children to have their own spaces and so the study reverted to being a bedroom and we set up a study area in the corner of the dining room downstairs.
“That worked well for a couple of years - and then we had another baby! Although the baby was able to sleep in our room for the first few months we realised it wasn’t a long-term solution and so started to look into converting the loft.
“I contacted the local council and was told we didn’t need planning permission for the work, but it would be a good idea to follow building regulations. A friend put us in touch with a builder, we remortgaged the house to find the £5,000 it was going to cost (this was seven years ago!) and started to consider how it was going to work.
“There wasn’t a lot of space on our upstairs landing and the builder he felt it was too tight for the staircase. So, instead, he suggested having it coming down into the middle bedroom.
“At the time, we couldn’t see the problem with this so we agreed. The conversion work took about two months. Then decoration took place and our oldest child moved into her new attic bedroom. Our second child stayed where he was and the bedroom with the stairs in became the baby’s room.
“We all relished the extra space and for four or five years the arrangement worked well. But then we began to realise that having the stairs from the attic bedroom coming down into our youngest child’s room was far from perfect.
“Daughter number one was now a teenager and didn’t want our youngest child blundering up and down the stairs all the time. She also didn’t want to have to trail her friends through the distinctly “uncool” kiddy space, having to navigate piles of pink plastic toys, blanket dens stretching the width of the room and precious cardboard junk modelling displayed here, there and everywhere.
“We also realised just how much space we had lost in the bedroom. The staircase took up a good quarter of the room and the area underneath it was useful for very little other than storage. So we decided to look at moving the staircase.
Moving the Staircase“This time we called in a different builder, someone with a reputation for coming up with ‘creative solutions.’ He spent hours measuring, sketching and discussing options before deciding there would be room for the staircase on the landing if we ‘stole’ some of the open space above the stairwell between the ground and first floors.
“The idea was then to create a neat staircase up to the loft that made two turnings. It was to have a cupboard beneath it and would cost about £1,500 in total. We decided to go for it.
“While the idea of leaving the teenager marooned in the loft was tempting at times, the first staircase obviously couldn’t be moved until the second was complete - so using reclaimed floorboards, the builder made the new set.”
“At the top, he created a landing that led to a door the teenager could shut. The design of the loft had changed slightly but she was happy to rearrange her room. When the time came for the first staircase to be dismantled we were all a little sad to see it go. But then the hole in the ceiling was boarded up and suddenly our youngest’s bedroom seemed spacious and open.
“A year or so on, we haven’t regretted moving the staircase. We have had to redecorate both rooms and skim the ceiling of the bedroom that used to have the stairs in. But both children now have their own spaces. They can close the door on each other and blast the sounds of High School Musical or hip hop out to their hearts content, safe in the knowledge the other one isn’t going to come thundering up or down the stairs, yelling at them to turn it off.”