There are some things you need to think about before you get started with your loft conversion.
There are some things you need to think about before you get started with your loft conversion. Here are some of the most important factors that go into deciding if going through with the loft conversion is the best idea to give your home a little more space.
1. Will Your Home Be Able to Take the Weight of the Loft Conversion?
Doing a loft conversion is going to add some weight to your house and so you should check to make sure that your home can take it. This could mean checking the foundations of the house and also testing the beams to see if they can take on any more weight.
Even if you don’t do this yourself the Building Control Officer will so it’s best to just expose the foundations anyway. Giving your house the extra support it needs to carry the weight is an expensive process that could end up doubling your bill.
2. Is there Enough Headroom?
Your designer should be able to illustrate how much headroom there will be in a converted loft. Many people end up disappointed by the amount of headroom they have because it’s not clear on the plans. You should also accommodate for the stairs as the new staircase will be attached to the old one. Putting it in an existing room means losing that room which makes no sense.
If there’s not enough roof space for the water tanks and plumbing then you might need to use a sealed system to house your heating and hot water system. Keep in mind that it’s better to have an unvented hot water system instead of a combination boiler, but these systems take up a room the size of a cupboard and they have to go somewhere.
3. What About the Building Regulations and Party Walls?
You must always have your loft conversion approved under Building Regulations, even if you don’t need planning permission. As such you should always put together a detailed scheme and have this approved before hiring a builder. Getting the design approved like this can get rid of a lot of risk in the work. It could also mean that the builder is able to give you a fixed quote rather than an estimate.
If you lived in a semi-detached or terraced house then you will have to inform your neighbours about your plans and this comes under the Party Wall Act 1996. The Building Control Officer will inspect the work during the process and then issue with a completion certificate when all is said and done. Don’t make any final payments to your builder before you receive this completion certificate.
4. Changing the Roof
Many roofs are constructed with internal support struts in the loft that prop up the rafters and purlins, which are horizontal roof beams, in traditional cut and pitched roofs. They also account for all of the braces that you find in modern trussed rafter roofs. All of these old supports need to be removed and replaced to make up space.
There are a number of ways to alter the roof structure for a loft conversion but all of them have one common element – the ceiling joists can not be used as floor joists. As such it means that additional floor joists also need to be installed, just above the ceiling plasterboard so that they don’t touch it. These joists are often 200-225mm in depth and will go above the current ceiling joists to make up the structure of your floor. Depending on their size they will either bear directly onto the existing wall plates of your load-bearing walls or they can be affixed to brand new beams.
If you have a smaller loft then you may need to use your floor joists to support the sloping rafters. This is made possible through the use of a dwarf timber stud wall between 1-1.5m tall. This stud is known as an ashlering and it fits between the two. With the support of this ashlering you can safely remove the internal struts and braces.