How to do a loft conversion0
If you want to know how to do a loft conversion then before you start it’s important to consider whether your loft is suitable for a conversion and if it is, whether you need planning permission for it. You wouldn’t mix the ingredients for a cake, without first ensuring that you had the right tin to bake it in. So the first question we’re going to answer is which lofts can you convert?
Strictly speaking your best course of action should be to ask a professional, but if you’d like a general idea of whether your loft may fit the criteria, you need to know roughly when your house was built.
If it was built before the 1960s and has a traditional frame with good sturdy beams, an easy conversion is more likely to be a possibility. However, that’s not to say you can’t convert a newer loft. Loft conversions on newer houses just might cost you a little bit more time and money, due to a number of alterations you’ll have to make before the work begins. Typical tasks include waterproofing and inserting additional steel and wooden beams, to provide extra support for the extra weight.
If you’re a DIY enthusiast, you’re probably not going to want to hear this, but if your house is post 1960s, you’re going to be better off leaving the conversion to the experts, rather than tackling it yourself. A lot of specialist knowledge and skills will be required in order to make your loft conversion safe and compliant with the law. That said, it’s still worth your while reading the rest of this article because then you’ll know what your hired guys should be doing and when!
Obviously planning laws change all the time, when you decide you’d like to go ahead with your loft conversion, you’ll need to check that your plans are fully compliant. You can find out this out by going to Planning Portal which is the online planning and building regulations resource for England and Wales. It’s unlikely you’ll need planning permission however if your home is not in a conservation area, the space you plan to convert is no larger than 40m3 and you’re not going to be installing any windows. As soon as dorma or side windows become integral to your plans, you’ll need some help with the official paperwork. It’s all too easy to install windows too high or too low and incur the need for planning permission.
Preparing for a loft conversion
To begin with, it’s often a good idea to remove large features, such as water tanks and chimney stacks. After this you might find it’s also necessary to for you to re-plaster the ceiling of the room below your loft, to provide fire protection. This is especially important if the room below has recessed, halogen ceiling lights, which tend to get very hot.
One person you’ll need to make an appointment with, is a surveyor. You can find a surveyor at www.rics.org who are the professional body for qualifications and standards in land, property and construction. A surveyor will be able to give you the official go-ahead and be aware that he or she will also want to talk to you about fire doors and escape windows, both of which you’ll be grateful for in the event of a fire. You’ll need to start thinking about access to your loft as well. Will a ladder suffice? Or would you prefer to build a staircase?
Your surveyor will make the plans for you and advise you which parts of the loft conversion you’ll be able to do yourself. Once you’ve been given the green light, you can start getting the room ready. Firstly you’ll need to clear everything out of the loft. With the loft clear, you’ll be able to check the wiring. Any of your house’s electrical wiring attached to a joist will need to be re-routed by a certified electrician.
With the wiring re-routed, you’ll be ready to start laying the floor boards. Make sure they’re the right way up and take care to make sure they interlock correctly. Many people choose to glue them in place. The edge of the floorboards should be across the joists.
At some point, earlier rather later, you’ll need to decide what you’re doing about lighting your loft. Are you going to have a window installed or will you make do with electric lighting?
This probably depends on what you plan to do with your loft. Do you simply intend to use it for storage, or do you want to use it as an extra room. You might also want to think about adding a power socket.
Once your flooring is in place, you can insulate your loft. Insulate between the rafters ensuring that you leave an air gap. Failure to leave an air gap may cause you trouble in the future when your loft begins to suffer from rot! With the floor boards laid, the windows and fire doors installed and the loft insulated, you can then decorate. If you’re planning to divide the loft up into separate rooms, make sure that each part is well ventilated.
There are certainly parts of your loft conversion that you can carry out yourself. It’s always satisfying to know you’ve built part of your home with you own two hands. However, if in any doubt about completing any part of the conversion, do seek advice. Always make sure you get professional help with tasks that require you to comply with the law or possess specialist skills. www.mylocaltradesman.co.uk can help you find tradesmen in your area.