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Loft conversion

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StockportGerbilStockportGerbil Forumite
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Folks :-
I currently use a bedroom as an office, Wiith my girlfriend and her kids about to move in, then it'll need to revert to being a bedroom! :-) I'm trying to get some quotes for converting the loft into an office and it's proving difficult and I am getting conflicting advice, so would rather hope you folks can point me in the right direction. I want like the room to be good value and to ensure it's safe want to conform with planning regs. My DIY skills are really not up to this sort of job.

I've spoken to a dozen builders asking for a quote, three of whom have turned up and only one given a quote.

- The highest point between the joists and the top of the roof is 2.1 metres, I'm not convinced that is sufficient to comply with building regs.

- I don't know if the floor would need strengthening, two neighbours and the one builder who's quoted say no, the two builders who haven't quoted say yes it needs strengthening, who's telling the truth? I am rather keen not to find myself hurtling through the floor! :-)

- I don't know if I need planning permission or building regs approval, my intention is to just have a velux window put into the roof and an ordinary window put into the external wall (the house is an end terrace.)

- There is disagreement as to how the fire regs should be interpreted, the staircase currently leads into my dining room which has three exits out. One of the three builders said in order to be conformant then he'd have to partition the dining room in two to create two seperate fire exits - is this rubbish?

- When I phoned the planning department of Stockport council I was told that if I wanted any advice then that could only be given on the basis of submitted plans due to staff shortages.

- There is a suggestion that if the room is not being used as a bedroom then planning regs are laxer - is this or was this true?

In the absence of the council and apart from you chaps is there anyone else I can ask for advice? Does anyone have any recommendations for builders in Stockport / South Manchester?

Many thanks

Kevin

Replies

  • squarecatsquarecat Forumite
    111 posts
    Hi Kevin,

    I have recently tried to obtain similar advice,
    I have only 1.9m clearance and was told by an architect that I would need to lower the ceilings. You need 2m clearance.
    You would need substancial beams inserted to provide support for the floor above, these can be inserted alongside existing beams (which support the ceiling below).

    I managed to get some advice from my planning dept, who also had some info on their website. I just enquired what the local guidelines were, would I need planning permission etc!

    Sorry I'm not much help, hopefully someone can point you in the right direction.

    I found from the 5 builders I contacted 3 did not respond, one fobbed me off with busy until later in the year contact me then, and one was not really interested in plans, could start next week, (which started alarm bells!) and said he could do the job for £5k!
    Smile it confuses people!
  • beefsterbeefster Forumite
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    Any good local archetect or similar will (should) know all this when doing your drawings.

    I had to have 6x2 joists added and have been left with a ceiling height of 2070mm.

    Alternativley do some basic drawings yourself and submit to the planning dept detailing your fears. they are there to help you.
    I save so I can spend.
  • alanobrienalanobrien Forumite
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    Folks :-
    I currently use a bedroom as an office, Wiith my girlfriend and her kids about to move in, then it'll need to revert to being a bedroom! :-) I'm trying to get some quotes for converting the loft into an office and it's proving difficult and I am getting conflicting advice, so would rather hope you folks can point me in the right direction. I want like the room to be good value and to ensure it's safe want to conform with planning regs. My DIY skills are really not up to this sort of job.

    I've spoken to a dozen builders asking for a quote, three of whom have turned up and only one given a quote.

    - The highest point between the joists and the top of the roof is 2.1 metres, I'm not convinced that is sufficient to comply with building regs.

    - I don't know if the floor would need strengthening, two neighbours and the one builder who's quoted say no, the two builders who haven't quoted say yes it needs strengthening, who's  telling the truth? I am rather keen not to find myself hurtling through the floor! :-)

    - I don't know if I need planning permission or building regs approval, my intention is to just have a velux window put into the roof and an ordinary window put into the external wall (the house is an end terrace.)

    - There is disagreement as to how the fire regs should be interpreted, the staircase currently leads into my dining room which has three exits out. One of the three builders said in order to be conformant then he'd have to partition the dining room in two to create two seperate fire exits - is this rubbish?

    - When I phoned the planning department of Stockport council I was told that if I wanted any advice then that could only be given on the basis of submitted plans due to staff shortages.

    - There is a suggestion that if the room is not being used as a bedroom then planning regs are laxer - is this or was this true?

    In the absence of the council and apart from you chaps is there anyone else I can ask for advice? Does anyone have any recommendations for builders in Stockport / South Manchester?

    Many thanks

    Kevin


    A good loft conversion is definately not a DIY job.

    Yes you will need to put down a new floor, otherwise you will be walking on ceiling joists and they were not designed for that purpose.

    A good builder / architect will put together a plan that includes an RSJ embeded in your walls from which they will hang joist hangers to create your new loft floor.

    You generally do not need planning permission for a loft conversion unless you put in a dormer that faces the street.
    Usually you only need to ensure its built to the building regs
    and that includes;

    A half hour fire door on the loft room
    "Proper" stair access to the loft
    Mains smoke alarms on all floors
    Door closures on all habitable rooms off the stairwell
    An escape window low down in the roof
    Any external waste vent is capped with a valve and brought into the eves
    The RSJ is boxed in inside the eves (wierd requirement that one)

    The local council will make several inspections as the work progresses.

    You need one clear exit to the street, stating two is needed is nonsense.

    Sounds like your conversion should be straight forward.
    I recommend reading the following book if you can get hold of a copy at the library

    Loft Conversions, Planning, Managing and Completing Your Conversion Williamson, Laurie
    Publisher Crowood P.
    Publication Date 22/12/2000
    Binding Paperboards
    ISBN 1861263651

    If not you may want to consider buying it, i read it cover to cover before getting quotes and having our loft converted.

    https://www.bookbrain.co.uk is a good place to look for it if you cant get it at a library

    Here is some more inspiration;
    We recently moved house and got back twice what it cost us to convert the loft

    Best of luck with the conversion
  • robowenrobowen Forumite
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    A good loft conversion is definately not a DIY job.

    Yes you will need to put down a new floor, otherwise you will be walking on ceiling joists and they were not designed for that purpose.

    A good builder / architect will put together a plan that includes an RSJ embeded in your walls from which they will hang joist hangers to create your new loft floor.  

    You generally do not need planning permission for a loft conversion unless you put in a dormer that faces the street.
    Usually you only need to ensure its built to the building regs
    and that includes;

    A half hour fire door on the loft room
    "Proper" stair access to the loft
    Mains smoke alarms on all floors
    Door closures on all habitable rooms off the stairwell
    An escape window low down in the roof
    Any external waste vent is capped with a valve and brought into the eves
    The RSJ is boxed in inside the eves (wierd requirement that one)

    The local council will make several inspections as the work progresses.

    You need one clear exit to the street, stating two is needed is nonsense.

    Sounds like your conversion should be straight forward.
    I recommend reading the following book if you can get hold of a copy at the library

    Loft Conversions, Planning, Managing and Completing Your Conversion Williamson, Laurie
    Publisher Crowood P.
    Publication Date 22/12/2000
    Binding Paperboards
    ISBN 1861263651

    If not you may want to consider buying it, i read it cover to cover before getting quotes and having our loft converted.

    https://www.bookbrain.co.uk is a good place to look for it if you cant get it at a library

    Here is some more inspiration;
    We recently moved house and got back twice what it cost us to convert the loft

    Best of luck with the conversion



    This is great advice.  

    You can't just board up a loft and put a window and a bed in it today.
    You need proper advice.
    You have to have proper plans drawn up by an architect if its a dorma. Let them deal with the regs.

    Would be interested to hear from you later, about how you got on.  :)
    I am in H/Chapel stockport. Was thinking about this project for next year. I have 3 bed semi.   :)

    Was told by planning, that I could raise the height of the roof to increase the room height , providing it did not look ridiculous and out of place.  :o
    When you have two houses together, and one is higher than the other, its gonna look a bit odd isnt it  ??
    If only everything in life was as reliable...AS ME !!
    robowen 5/6/2005©

    ''Never take an idiot anywhere with you. You'll always find one when you get there.''
  • theGrinchtheGrinch Forumite
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    hi,

    I do loft conversions, but as I only do them within the M25 I hope I can offer you some brief but objective advice.

    Okay if you only want the loft as an "office" you would really only need some form of light and stairs. This is very basic. Obviously, when you come to sell it wont add much value to your property ie you are limited to what you can call the space. The other choice is going the extra mile, paying more and satifying building regs and having a "bedroom" so when you sell it can be sold with an extra bedroom.

    All loft conversions that are done correctly require compliance with building regs. The first requirement for a livable space is 2 metre clearance from floor to ridge. If you need to have your floor reinforced it could cut into your 2.1 metres, but the best person to make enquiries with is a local architect or loft planning CAD person thingy. Look at the back of the local rag for them. They can tell you on viewing if you need the floor strengthening. And they are pretty independent too.

    You only need planning if you are adding more than 40 cubic feet to the property or 10%. Again, if the building is listed or in a conservation area you will require planning. For more info speak to duty planning officer at your town hall.

    Regarding fire exits and regs. The velux window will need to be a certain size and location in the roof to comply. Doors need to be self closing and any other landing door would need to be fire proofed.

    New and existing walls forming stairway enclosure are to provide a minimum fire resistance of half an hour and smoke alarms provided.

    From your posting, Im guessing you wont need planning, but will need building regs. If you only need a velux and basic loft space some companies do out of the box budget conversions but please do due diligence on them!
    "enough is a feast"...old Buddist proverb
  • StockportGerbilStockportGerbil Forumite
    556 posts
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    Folks :-
    Many thanks for the replies. It looks like I've got alot of homework to do now.... :-)
    Thanks again
    Kev
  • Also answered my questions.
  • Lots of good advice on this thread. You will definately need to meet building regs, planning permission is unlikely to be needed if you are just having a velux put in.

    You will need to have an escape route that offers 30mins fire protection. This normally means changing upstairs and downstairs landing and hallway doors for fire doors. Self closers are not needed anymore. Low level escape window no longer needed. Mains powered smoke alarms will be needed. Make sure the sire doors also have fire rated hinges.

    Most conversions need a couple of steels putting in to support the new floor. The existing joists are only designed to support the weight of the cieling. If you are going to do then I would advise getting a good builder in and having it done properly, this will add value to your home.

    Local councils are very helpful with building regs, but there can be variations between areas. Always check with the council if unsure. I run a website called aboutloftconversions (search google for it, or pm me - I cant post links yet) - I'm not a builder, the site is just for information purposes, hope you find it useful.
  • Great thread...

    Interesting requirement about needing a fire door on all rooms off a stairwell (ground floor and 1st floor).....how does that work if you have stairs that come down into an open plan living room/dining room?

    Or doesn't it....
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