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Loft conversions: what to expect

Many would-be loft converters are put off by the presumed disruption caused by such a large-scale home improvement. However, contrary to popular belief, loft conversions are one of the least disruptive of all the major home improvements carried out in the UK. This is chiefly because the builders can get into your loft and work on it without entering the rest of your home. So for most of their work, while they’ll certainly be heard, they may rarely be seen!

Of course, no home improvement is completely without disruption but few homeowners actually realise what to expect before they embark on their renovation journey. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the loft conversion process to help you understand just how simple and straightforward it can be:

Step 1: Inspection and paperwork

The very first step on the road to a loft conversion is having a surveyor or loft expert inspect your loft space to see whether it is a suitable candidate for conversion. The majority of lofts are able to be converted, providing they have a minimum head height of 2.3m.

Once it’s been established that your loft meets the criteria for conversion and you have decided which type of conversion you want, the technical drawings will need to be drafted. Also, if required, the planning permission applications and Party Wall Agreements will need to be made at this point.

Step 2: Clearing and preparation

Before the work can begin, you need to get all of your junk out of the attic. You’ve probably been putting it off for years but all those dusty Christmas decorations, broken toasters and forgotten old books will finally have to find a new place to live.

Step 3: Scaffolding

Before the builders can begin, scaffolding needs to be erected to provide a safe platform and access point for the tradespeople. This usually happens a day or two before the build team arrives.

Step 4: Internal construction (part 1)

Now that the scaffolding is up, the builders will be able to start the initial stage of construction. The good news is that they can usually do this without entering your home. It does depend on the type of conversion you’ve chosen, but the project will usually begin with the removal of  some or all of the roof tiles which will be replaced with a heavy-duty tarpaulin to keep everything dry and safe. They will then enter the loft by going up the scaffolding and start by reinforcing the flooring and rafters as well as replacing the joists, Once this is complete, they will construct the new dormers and windows before retiling the roof and insulating the whole structure to exacting and heat-efficient modern building standards.

Step 5: Internal construction (part 2)

Now that the space is sealed, watertight and capable of supporting heavier loads, your builders will begin the next phase. This is where they install internal structures and fittings such as stud walls, electrics and plumbing, before decorating the newly created rooms.

Step 6: Breaking through and installing stairs

Admittedly, the one messy part of the job will always be break-through day. This is where the builders have to cut through the ceiling of your landing and install the new stairs that go up to the loft. It’s the one day that can be noisy and disruptive, so it’s often advised that everyone in the house clears out for the day. Once the stairs are installed, the workmen will finish off the job by testing that everything is safe. At this point you can get your first real impression of how your new loft connects to the rest of your home.

Step 7: The clean up

With the work done, the builders will clean the space so that it’s spotless for you to enjoy.

Remember…

At the end of the day, no major home improvement project can ever go entirely without disruption. However, when it comes to a loft conversion, the hassles are incredibly minor compared to all of the new space you gain. And of course, any home improvement is far less disruptive than having to sell up and move to another house. If you want to add more space and  value to your property without experiencing massive disruption to your everyday life, then a loft conversion could be the right project for you.

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