Initial survey. 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.
Architect drawings and calculations. Then the architect prepares the draft drawings – to help visualize the proposed extra room. Once the draft plans are approved by the customer, the architect draws detailed plans, structural calculations are made. If the customer is happy with the final plans, these are submitted to the Local Authority for approval – building control notice is served and full plans application is submitted. This applies to permitted development, if the extra loft space doesn’t exceed 40 cubic meters on terraced houses and 50 cubic meters on a semi detached properties. In other cases (including when loft is converted above a flat) a planning permission will be required. You can read more about this here.
Party wall notice. 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.
Building control approval. On average it takes about 4 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. Also, at this point we always advice to get from a local Council a Certificate of Lawful development for the project - this way you can be certain that no legal issues would arise with the planning authorities.
Construction stage. When the neighbours consent and the Council approval is in place, the building works 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.
Certificates. 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.