FFA Guide to Attic Conversions

An attic conversion can be a great way to add space to your home especially if you don’t want to lose space in your garden. However, there are a few things that need to be considered early in the planning stage to decide if an attic conversion is suitable for your home.

  1. Roof Height

Not all attics are suitable for conversion, the first thing to check is whether you have sufficient height. Part F of the Irish Building Regulations states that you must have a minimum ceiling height of 2.4m for 50% of the floor area which is above 1.5m high. If you don’t meet these regulations but you have sufficient height to stand up and walk around comfortably, you may still convert your attic however, it can only be used as storage space.

  1. Access

It is important to consider how you will gain access to the attic. In some cases the new stairs may take up almost as much space as you are going to gain. A spiral stairs will normally use the least amount of space.

  1. Structure

It is advisable to use a Structural Engineer when making any alterations to your roof structure. Sometimes it is necessary to remove or relocate collar timbers or struts, it is important to get an engineer to do the necessary calculations and specify alternative means of supporting your roof before doing so. Your attic floor structure normally needs to be strengthened also by increasing the size of the floor joists, remember this when checking that you have sufficient ceiling height.

  1. Light

Natural light is important in every space in your home. There are many different ways of getting good quality natural light into your attic rooms. There are various different types of rooflights, ridge rooflight systems, frameless rooflights, balcony rooflight systems, etc. These can be manually or electrically opened to give you natural ventilation as well as light. Dormer windows are also a great way of getting light into your conversion with the added benefit of additional floor space.

  1. Planning

Planning permission is required for any chances to front or side of your house. You may add Velux roof lights to the rear of your house without needing planning permission. Dormers and balconies would require planning permission. Protected structures always require planning permission.

  1. Fire Safety

If you are converting the attic in an existing two storey house then the attic conversion would result in your house becoming a three storey building meaning that there are a number of Fire Safety regulations which you will need to comply with. These include but are not limited to creating a fire protected stairway including upgrading some of your doors to self-closing fire doors, each new attic room to have a window or roof light for escape or rescue.

Part B of the Building Regulations sets out mandatory fire safety requirements; and Technical Guidance Document B (TGD-B) shows how to comply with Part B.

  1. Insulation

In most situations the roof of a house is insulated at ceiling level, which is your attic floor. Now that you are going to use this space, the roof must be insulated at rafter level. The existing insulation is usually fibreglass quilt insulation, this can be left where it is as it will also help slow the heat escaping from the rooms below and act as sound proofing. The new insulation at rafter level must comply with Part L of the Irish Building Regulations.

For more guidelines on converting your attic please check this publication from the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government:,1657,en.pdf

extension, churchtown, dublin 14

Churchtown, Extension

This extension is starting on site in Churchtown, Dublin 14 . This is a classic example of how we design for the Irish climate. The roof is extended out over the terrace to create one of our famous “Covered Terrace” areas, this one includes large glazed sections in the roof to allow the light to flood in. We have also included a built-in-BBQ and outdoor fire so you can start your summer earlier and finish it later!



Building your Ideal Home or Extension

There are many components involved in creating your perfect home, especially if it is to be a sucsessful process. Fergus Flanagan Architects provide the necessary steps to ensure that your build is an experience to remember for the right reasons.

  1. Picking your Architect

Whether you are planning a new corporate headquarters or are simply extending your home, a RIAI-registered architect has the qualifications, vision and experience to take you expertly through your building project. An architect does a lot more than just provide you with a set of drawings, they will help you set a viable brief and budget, guide you through the planning process, obtain quotes for the work, manage consultants like surveyors and engineers, monitor the budget and administer the construction contract. Working with a professionally qualified and RIAI-registered architect will be the best investment you will make as part of the building project. ( Fergus Flanagan Architects are a progressive Architects practice located in both Dublin & Wexford. We provide a full range of architecture and design services, focusing on both domestic and commercial projects of every scale. We have particular expertise in the residential, leisure and healthcare sectors, and broad experience in the office, education and industrial sectors. Our work ranges from large and complex projects to small house extensions; we bring to them all the same commitment to great design and attention to detail.

  1. Budget

Establishing a budget is key to any building project. What is your budget – how much can you realistically afford to spend? During an initial consultation with Fergus Flanagan Architects we will discuss your brief and advise you on a realistic budget.

  1. Design Considerations

The more you personalise your new house the more it is a home, good architecture comes from innovation and design considerations, though this does not mean having to increase your budget. If this is a home for life, design it for the future as well as for the present. Flow in a house is very important, from having public rooms to ensuring the privacy of certain rooms. Ensure that you design for the Irish Climate; covered terraces and outdoor fires address the issue of using the outdoor space even in less than ideal conditions.

The essence of giving a client what they want is good communication. As a rule everything we design we do it using 3D modelling software. In this way we let the client in, we involve them, we take on their ideas and then bring them to a higher level. We have design sessions were we test out things with the clients in 3D so they can fully understand the implications.

See more about our “Design Session in Your Home” >Click Here<

  1. Achieving Planning Permission

The trick to achieving planning permission is to do all of your work prior to lodging the application. Have a preplanning meeting and work with the planners, don’t apply unless you are getting green lights and even do a second preplanning meeting if necessary. Again we use 3D software to demonstrate the proposals which leaves no ambiguity for the planners and in essence makes it easier for the planner to say yes.

  1. Tendering

The architect will prepare Forms of Tender including drawings and specification for the contractors to price. It is advisable to have at least three contractors submit costings (tenders) for a project. Fergus Flanagan Architects work with many reputable contractors on both large and small scale projects. We can advise you which contractors would be most suitable for your project. As each contractor will be pricing the same set of documents and will issue us with a breakdown of costs, it is possible to compare “like for like” and find you the best value.  The successful tender may not necessarily be the lowest one. If a tender is very low, the contractor may have missed something. In some cases, an architect and client may agree to negotiate a tender price with just one contractor.

  1. Construction Drawings and Building Control

Even if you decide to do a self-build, you still have to comply with Building Regulations. The best way to achieve this is by getting an Architect to prepare both drawings and specification for your build. You will get a better (and sometimes cheaper) build with proper drawings, as all builders want clarity as to what they have to build for the price they are giving. Its also the best way to check price quotes from different builder as you can compare like for like.

  1. Selecting your Builder

Your architect will have worked with many reputable builders, and like any project, if you have a good team it will go smoothly. Your architect is responsible for coodinating the other members of the design team including engineers, quantity surveyor, M&E engineer, etc. and your Architect also administers the building contract between you and the builder.

  1. Construction

The key to a successful project is to have all the necessary work done prior to the commencement on site. It will also ensure that you are not making any changes on site that can prove a costly way of approaching your project. In relation to the future performance of the building envelope and energy loss, quality control on site is paramount. FFA will carry out a number of on-site inspections during construction to ensure that the builders work is in accordance with the specification, building regulations and to ensure that he is completing the work in accordance with the high standards that we demand.

  1. Completion

The architect’s work continues until after the building work. Part of the payment due to the builder – the retention – is held back for up to twelve months (6 months for Extensions or Renovations) and is only paid out on the architect’s instruction, after any defects have been rectified by the contractor. Remember that the architect’s Opinion on Compliance with Planning and Building Regulations is subject to work not being changed during construction. (


If you would like to discuss your project with Fergus Flanagan Architects, please contact us.



Moving In

Fergus Flanagan Architects featured in today’s edition of the Irish Independent magazine “Moving In”. You can read the article here.



This week Fergus Flanagan featured on the Newstalk FM program “Don’t Move, Improve-In!”  to discuss the growth of home extensions and renovations in Dublin and how to get the most from your home!

Irish Independent

Fergus Flanagan Designer Architect featured in the Irish Independent as part of the run up to the April 2015 Ideal Home Show.


Fergus Flanagan has recently made a guest appearance on TV3’s Morning Ireland. On the show Fergus explained how to get the WOW factor in your new house, extension or renovation project.