Loft conversion procedures and steps

 

While every loft conversion is slightly different from the construction point of view, there are common steps and procedures, required to complete. Without  proper guidance the whole process may look quite complex and daunting. In this article we clearly outline what steps you will need to take.

  1. Survey and construction options. It all starts with a survey: usually a surveyor (can be a builder, a project manager from a building company, an architect or a structural engineer) checks if your loft conversion is feasible at all. Main factor is the height between the joists and the roof gable – normally, if it is more than 2.4 m, you are lucky. Other, less important issues – the existing staircase position and the space available to extend it to the loft. Once feasibility is approved, available options are discussed – choose what type of loft conversion you will have (roof windows loft, dormer loft, or hip to gable loft).
  2. Architectural drawings and structural calculations. The architect prepares draft drawings and you check if the floor plan meets your requirements. Once you approve it, the structural engineer prepares calculations and the architect draws detailed plans. Once again you review the plans and if you are happy, the plans are submitted to the local Council for Building Regulations approval.
  3. Party wall notice. If the project affects a party wall (i.e. if the structural steel beam needs to be inserted halfway through the party wall), you will be required to notify your neighbours. Only with a written consent from your neighbours you can safely carry out your building works. Legally neighbours have up to two months for expressing their consent or dissent. Therefore, it’s best to do that as early as possible. Friendly neighbours make life easier!
  4. Building regulations approval. The architect then fills in full plans application form and submits it along with the architectural drawings, structural calculations to the Council. Usually it takes two to three weeks for Council to approve the structural calculations and another two weeks – to issue building regulations approval. After application and plans are submitted, Council surveyor comes to check the existing structure, discusses the proposed works with the construction builder. It’s not advisable to start the actual structural works without the approval of calculations – the Council engineer may have a different opinion and may request to alter the plans, change the structural elements. When the Council engineer is happy and you have a written consent from your neighbours, the actual works can be started.
  5. Construction, stage inspections by the Council. Main stages of any loft conversion are these:

a)     commencement – Council surveyor comes in to check existing structure, discusses the proposed work with a builder;

b)     structural framework – that involves all the steelwork and timber structure installation (all structural elements need to be exposed for the Surveyor to check);

c)     insulation – the Surveyor checks whether the required insulation is installed properly;

d)     completion – any required certificates have to be presented, fire resistance check (whether the arrangements meet the minimum requirement).

  1. Completion certificate. Once all the required inspections are done, certificates (gas, electrics) provided and a project is satisfactorily completed, a Building Regulations Completion Certificate will be issued by the Council, showing that the finished works comply with the Building Regulations.

If you choose an experienced loft conversion company to carry out the works, your home improvement is easy and hassle free. Your only joyous “hassle” then is to choose the right fittings and finishes – the rest will be taken care of by that company.

 

 

avatar Name: Donatas Valantinas
About: Professional building contractor, specialized in property improvement projects - renovations, extensions, loft conversions. Lives and works in London, runs a building company. Occasionally writes on topics related to his main job - sharing some useful ideas and tips. No-nonsense approach.
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