Design Clinic with MRIAI Carson and Rosaleen Crushell, Carson and Crushell Architects
Q. We are a young family with 2 children and a new baby on the way. We live in a 3-bed house and as our current home office will have to become a nursery, we are thinking about converting our attic into a home office space. Could you advise us if this is possible?
A. It’s great that you are thinking ahead with your expanding family. Before you settle on converting your attic as the very best solution, you might reconsider other options for the home office space: A garden studio perhaps? A rear extension? A garage conversion? Or a reorganisation of your ground floor living spaces?
Attics are great for long-term family storage and their pitched roofs are ideal for keeping out Irish rain. Attic spaces are usually low and cold and difficult to access and as a result of these characteristics they are not necessarily great for human beings. One clear benefit from an attic conversion is the improved daylight and prospect from up there. But as you require a home office (with a computer mostly used in the evenings), is a good daytime view actually required?
If you still decide to convert the attic you may have to upgrade the doors, floors and walls that surround the stairs throughout your house as well as construct a new stairs in accordance with the building regulations. Turning a two-storey house into a three-storey house has a number of implications particularly with regard to fire safety. The Department of the Environment have published a useful pdf online called ‘Loft conversions: Protect your family’ that you should refer to. Also, if a dormer window is required, this will require planning permission. In summary though, for any major works you should employ a Registered Architect who will be able to tell you the specific works required to convert your own attic or, more importantly, whether there is an entirely different solution that is better for you. One that you may not have realised yet.
Douglas Carson and Rosaleen Crushell began their collaboration in 2003 following their graduation from University College Dublin. Based in London for six years, they worked for a number of award winning practices. www.carsonandcrushell.com