Loft conversion…first instalment

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For the past few weeks we have been undergoing loft renovations to our property.

We decided not to use a loft conversion company because we have an experienced builder. If you know of a reputable builder you could cut costs by following our experience.  Before you commit to this route we suggest you get a quote from at least three builders and three loft conversion specialists to weigh up which option would be best for you.

You will need to inform your insurance company your intention of carrying out renovations to your home in advance of the works commencing.  Check your policy wording.

In our case, our insurance company wording states that we would only need to advise them of the works if they “exceed £50,000 or which necessitates you vacating the home or the home not being adequately furnished to be lived in normally”.  With an experienced builder in residence, this was not an issue for us.

We started our journey by finding an agent (Architect) to provide us with drawings and give us guidance throughout the project.  You could start by contacting your local council for assistance with this or check the Register of Architects to find one in your area.  We found ours by looking for developments on the internet.  If you search “planning permission applications London” on google for your particular area, after a little digging around you will find contact details of the agent for each application.

Once you find an architect, you will be given an approximate cost to provide a set of drawings for the relevant project and give guidance throughout.  They will visit your property and go over ideas with you.  Once a design is agreed, they will provide drawings that may require modifying until both parties are happy with it.  They will also apply for the relevant permissions for you from your local council.

Your architect may advise you that you may need structural calculations for any steels required for your property.  Your architect will have worked with someone prior so you could ask them for details.  If this is not possible, you should check with the Institution of Structural Engineers.  Your architect will supply his design (drawings) to the structural engineer and the engineer will then generate his calculations on a drawing.

Always double check the steel calculations from the Structural Engineer with your Architect paying particular attention to ceiling heights and the placement of steels.  Ensure that the Architects drawings and the steel calculations reflect what you want in the original drawings.

If you do come across a problem in the building phase (i.e. the steel calculations do not comply with the original drawings after checking them), then it is the responsibility of the Structural Engineer to pay to rectify the problem.

It has been an interesting journey with some ups and downs, but mainly ups for us so far. We did have an issue with the steel calculations at one point, but our engineer rectified the problem and we were able to plough ahead.

Your next step is finding a builder.  We have an experienced builder so that was not a problem for us but if you need guidance on how to find one click here.

Once you have a builder in place they may be able to recommend a scaffolder that they have worked with previously.  You have many options here.  You can ask for a recommendation from someone having works carried out locally or you can find a scaffolder on the National Access & Scaffolding Confederation site.

With all of this in place, you should now be ready to start.

With the help of a great scaffolding company, Scafforce, a fantastic builder, P R Henry and assisted by Cap Carpentry, we are off to a great start.

We decided on getting a tin hat (below) due to the great British weather and we have not been disappointed.  The construction of it took a few days but it has meant that work has been uninterrupted by the weather.  We are now ahead of schedule which means we can get on with the task at hand quickly and efficiently.

Footage of a tin hat from the inside.

The roof was stripped and one skip filled.  The loft floor was covered in temporary MDF boards to protect the ceilings below.

We found the beginnings of a wasp nest that was thankfully empty!

A few days later, the steels arrived and were put into place by four people.

The steels went in and were inspected by building control after installation.  This is the first building control inspection you would need to arrange.

To find your building control online just type your council name (ours is Waltham Forest), then type building control visit”.

We dropped one of the floor beams in order to gain maximum floor to ceiling height.

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Let’s have a 360 degree view.

We purchased the bulk of our materials from a company called Lawsons. They gave us a great deal and the delivery was on time and spot on.

The shell is starting to go up.

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Last 360 degree view for this week.

This article will be updated every Friday so do check back next week to see how we are getting on.  When finished, we will be uploading a time lapse video of the whole project inside and out!

To view the second instalment, click here.