Do They Add Value?
We would be more than happy to comment on the suitability of your property for a loft conversion when we come round and carry out a survey. Please telephone us for help and advice on loft conversions 0800 298 5434.
Free phone 0800 298 5424
Can I Carry Out a Loft Conversion?
The very first thing to look at is can a loft conversion be carried out in the type of roof that you have? Some types of roofs are more suitable for loft conversions than others. Generally there are two types of roof that you may come across in a residential property.
Very Old Properties (Before 1870) - Is It Suitable For A Loft Conversion?
In properties prior to this date the supply of wood was relatively good. The Victorians have not fully engineered the roof structure, therefore there is often a great deal of timber in the roof, you will still need to check to see if there is head height and a suitable place for the stairs to come up from the first floor into the roof. In addition to this you will also need to check the quality of the structure, such as does it have woodworm, wet rot or dry rot. We would be more than happy to comment on this within one of our surveys when you purchase the property.
A word of warning, if your property is Listed or in a Conservation Area the roof structure itself may be considered an integral part of the Listing and therefore you do need to seek Local Authority approval. In fact, in all cases where you carry out a loft conversion it is better to seek Local Authority approval. Please see our further comments later on within this article.
Older Property (Before 1960's) - Is It Suitable For A Loft Conversion?
An older property will have a purpose made cut timber roof. This type of roof comes in many forms, as it was literally purpose made for the property. A suitable type of purpose made roof is one that has a high ridge, therefore giving the head height necessary to form a room within the roof. You will also need to consider the things within the roof, such as water tanks that will need to be moved and also of course access to the roof space, which for a proper loft conversion will be via a staircase. This can often mean the loss of space on the floor below.
Sorry to repeat ourselves, but again it is important if the property is Listed or in a Conservation Area the roof structure itself may be considered an integral part of the Listing and therefore you do need to seek Local Authority approval. In fact, in all cases where you carry out a loft conversion it is better to seek Local Authority approval. Please see our further comments later on within this article.
Newer Trussed Roof (1960's Onwards) - Is It Suitable For A Loft Conversion?
From the 1960's onwards pre-fabricated trussed roofs were used in house construction. The main driving force behind a pre-fabricated trussed roof was economy of timber sizes. This therefore means these roofs are sometimes less adaptable to loft conversions than the older style roofs. Also during the 1970's a shallow roof was often used, which is difficult to convert. You will also need to look at items already in the roof, such as the water tanks, which will need moving. Sometimes the boiler has been moved into the roof space as well and of course you will need to consider the access stairway to get into the loft conversion from the floor below.
Things To Look Out For In All Roof Types
Asbestos was a material very commonly used in years gone by, in fact up until very recently. This was due to it being economical and was almost a substitute for timber, particularly during the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's.
What Does A Loft Conversion Involve?
In the very broadest sense you will require Planning Permission from the Local Authority to approve the look of the loft conversion, you will require Building Regulations Approval to ensure the structure is suitably designed and built and in some cases you will require Party Wall Notice approval to ensure your neighbours are happy with the work being carried out.
Who Does A Loft Conversion Involve?
There are many ways of carrying out a loft conversion, from a DIY type project where you are actively involved, through to a project where you do little more than pay the bill. The work will involve a range of building professionals from engineers carrying out the structural design calculations to a designer, possibly an architect (although this can sometimes be considered as using a sledgehammer to crack a nut), an architectural technician or surveyor to carry out the design work and a builder to build the loft conversion. Some companies carry out all these functions and they are often known as design and build companies. Design and build companies often specialise in this type of work and have a range of standard solutions to produce a loft conversion. A designer will look at a specific solution to suit your needs, which of course will come at a price.
What Does A Loft Conversion Cost?
In our experience it costs anything from £20,000 to £100,000 depending upon the quality and size of the loft conversion. Typically, the range of £30,000 to £50,000 is, in our experience, what it costs. Normally we find that it can cost up to 25% more than originally estimated and also usually runs over time. This is because the work is weather dependent, i.e. can't take the old roof off during bad weather. Even if you use scaffolding and scaffold over to form a protective roof it has its limitations.
A Loft Conversion - Your Design Choices
In our opinion the very first choice to make is what do you want within your loft conversion. We very much believe in designing the loft conversion from the inside out. By this we mean decide on your requirements internally, for example that you require a bedroom and an en-suite bathroom, which will then give you the space that you require. Then you can look at other features, for example will the loft conversion contrast the existing building, or blend in with it. This can be your choice, but often the planners from the Local Authority have a great deal of influence. You will also need to talk to the Conservation Officer, particularly if the building is Listed or in a Conservation Area, who will have to take into consideration how it matches its surrounding or how it contrasts with them.
Choices very much depend upon how much money you have to spend, i.e. things such as would you require a balcony? This outside space can be worth its weight in gold, do you want a lot of windows to add light? Both with the balconies and windows, however, you have to consider heat gain and heat loss that can occur during the summer and winter months respectively.
Brief Specification of the Work Carried Out For A Loft Conversion by the Builders
• Scaffold around the property to give safe access and often over the top of the roof to give a weather resistant area to work within.
• Remove the existing roof covering and save the roof tiles if at all possible.
• Amend the roof structure by adding in additional joists to make the ceiling joists into floor joists and reconfigure the rafters to give a suitable head height.
• Add windows and replace the roof.
• Dry line internally and bring in any services, such as water supply and waste pipes.
• Supply and fit second fix items, such as skirtings, doors and sanitary ware and decorate.
Getting On With Your Builder
It is very important to build a good relationship with the builder carrying out the loft conversion. We feel fundamental to this is a detailed agreed quotation for the work, together with discussions on any possible extra items that may come to light. Agreement on when payments will be made, for example within two weeks of the work being completed, possibly an official contract, although some smaller builders tend to be put off by this. Set and agree the site rules, i.e. what time work can begin and whether you are happy for the builder to work at the weekend and provide lots of cups of tea and bacon sandwiches, assuming your builder is not a vegetarian!
We would add that the role of project managing the building work is often under estimated and there is certainly within all of us a builder trying to get out! Where there are many trades it does require much co-ordination and cajoling from the builder to co-ordinate everyone. It is also important that if things are going wrong you deal with them in a logical and rational manner and if things go extremely wrong and you get into a dispute situation where the builder, for example, walks off site.
See our other articles on adding value to your home:
We would be more than happy to help, please contact 0800 298 5424 for help with your loft conversion and a Surveyor will phone you back.