Structurally, from the builder’s view, every loft conversion may vary a little bit. However, there are common procedures and stages which are no different with any type of attic conversion project. Quite often our prospective customers ask us where to start and what needs to be done before the actual building works can start. Here we will try to explain that in detail.
First, as with any other project, an initial survey is carried out: checking of the current building structure, roof type, joists layout, space available for conversion, height between the ceiling joists and the roof gable, current stairs arrangement. These factors are crucial in determining if the conversion is feasible at all. Once feasibility is approved, the type of conversion is decided: eaves, dormer, hip to gable or mansard. Some conversions are easier to implement, some are more difficult – the easiest being eaves conversion, when all the new room space is constructed within the existing attic space.
Next (or better, just as soon as you get the draft plans) – a party wall notice must be served to your neighbours. Most often the project will affect a party wall (steel beams must be inserted halfway into the party wall) and the consent from neighbours will be needed. Legally your neighbours are obliged to reply in no longer than two months and without it you would not be able to start works. In some cases (especially when the next door property is in some sort of shared ownership) your neighbours may dissent. This procedure then may take longer – both parties will have to appoint surveyors, some more paperwork will be involved. Consequently this will slightly raise the overall costs and delay the project starting date.
On average it takes about 3 weeks from the date the architect submits the full plans (including structural calculations) application to the Local Authority to get the building control approval. Building inspector comes to check the current state of the building, discuss the proposed works (especially those affecting the structural integrity of the property) with the building company. The structural calculations must be also approved in writing by the Council engineer – he checks adequacy of all load bearing elements.
When the neighbours consent and the Council approval is in place, the construction phase can begin. Firstly the existing structures are altered, timber frames constructed: steel beams and floor joists installed, roof and walls structure constructed. At this stage the Building Inspector comes to check if all is according to plans. Then work continues externally to close the new space, make it weatherproof: windows, roofing, flashing, fascias, guttering installed. Next – insulation is fitted and the Inspector comes again to check if it conforms to building regulations. Then electrics and plumbing first fix carried out – wires and pipes are installed. Stairs are constructed and the new loft is drylined with plasterboards. Finally – plastering, painting decorating, electrics and plumbing second fix, flooring installed.
Once construction is finished, the required electrical (and if needed – gas) certificates are issued. The Council Inspector comes for the final check – if the new loft meets the fire resistance requirements and if the project finished satisfactorily, the Local Authority issues a completion certificate. This certificate shows that the finished works comply with the current building regulations.
All this is easy when you choose a reputable loft conversion company. The only remaining job to the customer – selecting the final finishes, equipment and fittings.