Stunning Loft Conversions throughout Lancashire & Manchester.
Welcome to Rafter Loft Conversions, so you are considering a loft conversion. Congratulations, you’ve made a fantastic decision! Rafter Loft Conversions aim is to provide all our clients new and old with a loft conversion package that represents excellent value for money. If you are looking for a loft conversion company Rafter-Lofts offer a totally free no obligation quote and design of your loft conversion. We guarantee we will not be beaten on price for a like for like quote.
Rafter Loft Conversions are one of the leading loft conversion specialist companies converting both Traditional and Truss rafter lofts throughout Lancashire & Manchester., we continually strive to be a great company to choose for any type of loft conversion and are committed to providing you with a high-quality friendly service whilst focusing on every project we undertake as easy and as stress free as possible. If you are considering a loft conversion call our friendly team today on: 0800 161 3815 for your free bespoke loft conversion quote & Cad drawing. Or fill in our contact form below.
GUIDELINES FOR A SAFE LOFT CONVERSION:
Working and undertaking a loft conversion can be dangerous therefore it’s important when building your loft conversion that you follow loft safety, you need to make sure that you not only keep yourself safe but whoever is involved in the particular loft conversion build by following appropriate loft regulations and building regulations.
The first thing is to make sure you have secure footing, this would probably mean placing floor board sheets until you completed the necessary works in that particular area. Once you have the new floor down in your loft conversion then you would fit your bespoke staircase, again this can be fairly hazardous as you have to juggle the stair sections into place before getting a secure fixing, sounds easy, but you have to have the risers vertical and your treads horizontal and to make sure your integral newels are plumb.
BUILDING INSPECTOR APPROVAL:
Most loft conversions that are carried out do not require planning permission as the majority of loft conversions are built under what is called Permitted Development Rights, as planning laws were relaxed in 2008 by the government not by the local councils. On saying that ALL loft conversions have to go through building control, in other words a building inspector.
The building inspector is not there to be a friend, he is appointed to make sure that all the work carried out on your loft conversion is structurally safe and meets the stringent building regulations to date.
The building inspector will make around three or four visits to the site whilst under construction, generally he/she like to see all main beams and floor joists whether these are timber, steel or flitch beams in place prior to adhering the floor down.
Insulation is again a major part of building control, it is good practise to take photos throughout the build, so if let’s say you need to put the floor down in a bathroom area to set out for your ceramics etc, if pipes or cables are now running through your floor joists taking a picture to show that all holes cut are acceptable with all cables and pipes clipped and a minimum of 50mm down from the top of the new joists a photo should be sufficient.
The appointed building inspector is there for one reason only, to make sure that all works that have been carried out for your loft conversion is safe and that the materials have got the appropriate structural integrity.
WHY DOES A LOFT CONVERSION MAKE A GREAT ROOM?
Generally having a loft conversion is to gain an extra bedroom and if your lucky enough to have the space, gaining an en-suite/bathroom, which of course brings you peace and quiet as you have the only room in the top of your home, or maybe just to get the kids out of the way. Of course there are many reasons for a loft conversion, i.e. study (now a lot of people work from home, which isn’t bad just walking upstairs to your office) craft room, cinema, play room, living room or even a spare room for guests.
IS YOUR LOFT SPACE SUITABLE FOR A LOFT CONVERSION?
The higher your roof is of course going to you a more spacious room, the minimum height you require in a traditional loft (Purlins) is 2.2m this measurement should be taken from the top of the existing floor/ceiling joists to the underside of the ridge beam.
Houses built before the 1960s are normally suitable due to the way the roofs were constructed, and are easier to convert, than the modern Truss rafter roof, the minimum height required for a truss roof is 2.4m again the measurement should be from the ceiling joist to the underside of the truss, truss loft conversions are more demanding to all the framework. And no you cannot just cut all bracing out, you have to understand where and what can come out at certain times as your loft conversion progresses.
GETTING THE BEST POSSIBLE VIEWS FROM YOUR LOFT CONVERSION:
Roof windows are a major consideration when planning a loft conversion, not only for building control but because your window positioning will be fundamental if you want to make the most of you’re the views. The most common windows to install are Velux roof windows. These particular windows follow the pitch of the roof and depending on which model can open inwards or outwards either one brings beautiful natural light into the room. A roof window should be introduced whenever possible over the new staircase this not only allows light on the new staircase but on the existing landing below.
Dormer Windows are vertical rather than sloping and are built into usually a rear dormer, most dormer loft conversions carried out now have full height windows from floor to ceiling, this allows an incredible amount of light into the loft conversion and for a fabulous panorama.
INCREASING DEMAND FOR LOFT CONVERSIONS:
Creating that much needed extra room in your home with a loft conversion means you are not taking a chunk out of your land mainly your garden, so it is ideal to move up, and not out. People like to stay in the same area even if moving so gaining the room in the home you already love is not only financially a great deal cheaper than moving especially with the stamp duty. Luckily you do not pay stamp duty on property up to £40,000.00 (Maybe the government want us all to live in a garage of some sort)
Creating a “granny flat” is another reason people have a loft conversion undertaken, considering to have a parent go into a retirement home may not be the best option or even something that the family wants to do, so by creating a living space in the loft you have the comfort of knowing they are close, but are still able to carry on your life in separate rooms of the house. Building a loft conversion whether it’s a rooflight conversion or a dormer conversion it will also be a lot less expensive than paying for a retirement home.
While you are staying put if you do decide to convert your loft then when it comes to selling your home you will no doubt find that you have increased the value of your property.
WHY CONVERT YOUR ATTIC:
You may want to create your own little haven of tranquillity or simply get the kids out of the way, whatever your need, a loft conversion may be your solution. Moving upwards with increasing house prices and the steep cost of moving, is a great idea, more people are starting to adapt their homes and convert their lofts as an alternative to moving.
It is not just space that loft conversions can add to your property, but a well converted loft can add over 20% to your home, whether you convert your loft into a work space, games rooms, a bedroom or a living room it will all help increase the value of your property. Homeowners are also increasingly using their loft as lodger room, so you can actually make money off your loft conversion.
WHAT CAN I USE A LOFT CONVERSION FOR?
Your dusty loft may not look like much at the moment but all it takes is a bit of imagination and creativity you are able to turn it into anything you want, a loft bedroom perhaps, this is of course is one of the most common uses for a loft conversion. People have the image of lying in bed and looking up through their window at the stars, or having their own private bedroom away from the noise of the rest of the house.
Adding a bathroom into the equation may make things slightly more complicated the main concern in a loft bathroom is the toilet installation, toilets need to be located near a soil pipe to get the adequate fall for the waste, if the soil pipe is too far away then a macerator can be installed which is used to move the waste to the main soil stack.
Using your loft to create a play room will not only be popular with the children but will also give you some peace and quiet. You can soundproof your loft by fitting the walls with soundproof boarding. You can also get acoustic loft installation which will be able to keep the sound. Converting your loft into a play room is a good idea for both young and old children, it can be a good storage place for children’s toys and give older children a bit of independence.
Having the benefit of an extra room in your house means you can afford to create it into anything you wish. It may be that your hobby is collecting trains or for painting, you can create your very own hobby room and have the comfort of knowing you are not disturbing anyone else in the home. Creating a home office in the loft is also a popular conversion choice, the list is endless.
WHAT WE OFFER:
A free initial consultation with free Cad drawing of your loft.
Fully detailed project specification and quotation.
Fully experienced surveying & structural engineer.
Liaising with the planning office & planning control, to obtain the desired outcome on your behalf. (If applicable)
Project scheduling, coordination and management on and off site.
Liaising with building control until final certificate is issued for all building services.
LOFT CONVERSION STAIRCASES AND STYLES?
Your bespoke loft staircase is probably one of the most critical parts of your loft conversion, a badly designed staircase or in the wrong place/position can have a damaging effect, not only to your loft conversion but to your home. The loft staircase gives people the first impression so it is important to have it looking like it has always been part of your home, and not squeezed in at a later date.
There are many designs when it comes to your staircase for example would you like it to start with a Curtail tread or a bullnose, would you like the first two treads starting before a newel is fixed etc.
Regulations state a minimum height requirement when you step off the last tread is to have 2 meter headroom clearance, in special circumstances this can be reduced to 1.9 meters at the centre as long as the side (String) of the stairs is no lower than 1.8 meters.
Your new staircase for your loft conversion should have a maximum rise (height) of 220mm and a minimum going (tread depth) of 220mm, stairs should have a maximum pitch of no more than 42°, yet there is regulation to the width of a staircase. Handrails should be at least to one side of the staircase, both sides if the stairs are over a meter wide, handrails on the stairs or any balustrading should be set at least 900mm height, no openings (between spindles) in the rake or balustrade should allow a gap of no more than 100mm.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST FOR A LOFT CONVERSION:
Loft conversion costs start at £18k this is for generally a basic Vulex/rooflight loft conversion consisting of new floor, Velux window/s, insulated, plastered, heating and new fixed staircase and left to decoration stage. Dormer loft conversions start at £28k consisting as above, if introducing a bathroom to the loft conversion around an additional £4k would be applied depending on the complexity.
WHICH ARE THE MOST POPULAR LOFT CONVERSIONS?
A Velux/rooflight conversion this is when your loft conversion if formed within your existing roof space and without actually altering the profile of your roof. A Velux loft conversion is the cheapest options and works best when you have ample headroom so you can make full use of all the space available. Velux loft conversions require considerably less construction work and are not as disruptive as other forms of conversions.
Flat roof rear dormer loft conversions give the maximum amount of additional internal space, the dormer is usually of a timber structure, and tile hung to match the existing aesthetics of your home. Rear Dormers are popular due to the fact that they create a large floor area and give good natural light through either large windows or even French doors. The dormer will have a horizontal ceiling and vertical walls, which provide additional floor space. Planning permission is not always required as the conversion can be carried out with permitted development rights and meets certain criteria.
Hip to Gable & Hip End dormer loft conversions are for properties with a slopping side roof, (hipped roof) which means that the side of your roof slopes inwards towards the ridge/chimney. A hip-to-gable style conversion would change the shape of the roof by extending the existing the ridge and giving you a much larger loft area. Externally this particular loft conversion is normally finished in hanging tiles to match the existing roof, a new section of roof is built to fill in the area. Generally, houses with hip roofs do not tend to not have enough internal volume over their existing stairs, so a Hip to Gable is constructed to carry the new loft conversion staircase.
Cottage Dormer loft conversions are usually situated at the front of a property. The dormer is a vertical window with a roof of its own, positioned, at least in part, within the slope of the roof incurring a lead valley at either side. Cottage Dormers are a perfect way to achieve headroom where required and are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Cottage Dormers have to be in proportion with your existing roof volume, as once constructed they are an integral part of the overall design of the property if they are built to large the results can look dreadful, as they overpower the rest of the house.
WHICH ROOF WINDOW WILL SUIT MY LOFT CONVERSION?
There probably is no doubt Velux® windows are the world’s leading roof window manufacturer, there are two main types of roof windows, top hung & centre pivot, the windows come in three internal finishes, white painted, pine and polyurethane, polyurethane windows are ideal in humid rooms like bathrooms.
The top hung window is operated with a handle at the bottom of the frame for it to fully open outwards which are a perfect choose for loft conversions, this particular window is suitable for roof pitched between 15° and 55°.
The centre pivot roof window has a handle (bar) at the top of the window making them practical to have furniture underneath as the window swivels at the centre point, this particular window is suitable for roof pitches between 15° and 90°.
The Velux Integra® window is for pure comfort, Integra windows are remote controlled so every window can be opened at the touch of a button, again these windows are suitable for pitches between 15° and 90°.
Velux Cabrio® balcony windows are the largest of windows and open in seconds, the innovative balcony design can add stunning views for any loft conversion, the suitable pitch is between 35° and 53°.
FIRE SAFETY IN A LOFT CONVERSION:
When a loft conversion is undertaken provisions for an escape must be considered throughout the full extent of the escape route. This means that additional fire protection will be necessary in the existing parts of the house. For example, a typical loft conversion to a two-storey house will result in the need to provide FD20 fire resisting doors or equivalent, and some circumstances stud partitions will have to be introduced to protect the stairway.
Fire safety is a big issue and more complicated when your loft conversion transforms a two storey house into a three storey home, fire escape windows that are over 4.5m from ground level are not viable, so Building Regulations require a protected stair enclosure that leads down to the final exterior door. If your staircase to the new loft room rises from an existing room, (i.e. bedroom) rather than a hallway, there will not be a requirement from building control to have a door on the new floor level meaning the loft conversion would be open plan, the door still must be equivalent to an FD20 or greater. FD20 doors are not required on bathrooms etc. Each habitable room and landings from the escape route require a smoke detection circuit that are all interlinked so that all smoke and heat alarms sound off when one is activated, these have to be mains powered with battery back up in case of a power cut. If you have an open plan staircase leading from your lounge for example, a sprinkler system can be introduced helping to distinguish a fire.
WHAT ROOF COVER IS USED ON A FLAT ROOF DORMER?
With ever changing technology long gone are the days of hot bitumen and felt for flat roofs (Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer) EPDM Firestone RubberCover™ consists of two layers of rubber compressed together at heat to give the ultimate watertight blanket. RubberCover™ offer’s unmatched resistance to the ozone, and UV radiation even at high or low temperatures, and offers a life expectancy of over 50 years which is perfect for flat roof dormer conversions. The first installation of Firestone RubberCover™ was installed in Wisconsin USA in 1980 and still remains in service today. Since the production RubberCover™ Firestone have produced and installed over 1,000,000,00 m2 (Billion) around the world, from freezing temperatures in Alaska to the desert sun in the Arabian Gulf.
Rafter Loft Conversions are approved contractors for the installation of Firestone RubberCover™
MUST ALL LOFT CONVERSION GO THROUGH BUILDING CONTROL:
Every loft conversion with no exception is subject to building regulations, having a loft conversion is a major structural job, for example introducing new calculated floor joists, these must not exceed past the maximum span so they have the integrity of support, you have to take in account the insulation, electrics and plumbing. Building regulations are in place not only to make sure the new structure is structurally sound and conforms to regulation but for the safety of the workers and property owners.
All building work, plumbing and electrical works are checked by the building inspector to prove that it is too standard, but also it is important that you follow the building regulations have been followed throughout the build for other reasons as well.
If and when you ever come to sell your home and you cannot produce the correct paperwork or the approval for your loft conversion not only can it decrease the value of the property, it will probably put off potential purchases from buying your house.
You loft conversion can look good from the outside and inside, but it if doesn’t meet building regulations as an approved extension in the eyes of a surveyor the work will be condemned, by not going through the proper channels you will end up paying dearly for it in the long run. It is not only the builder’s responsibility to follow the regulations but home owner’s as well, heavy fines can be imposed on both parties, not only that, they will also require your loft conversion to be pulled down and put back to the original condition.
DIY, it is important to follow the building regulations, not only for yourself, but also to ensure the safety of others around you. You should not just rely on your tradespeople to comply with the building regulations but also refer to them when you undertake any DIY work.
HAVING A LOFT CONVERSION IN A BUNGALOW:
Bungalows are perfect for a loft conversion due generally by having a good foot print to start with, this means that you will probably have a good amount of unused space available in the roof to convert. Having a loft conversion in a bungalow also generates a good return in the investment simply because of the proportion of floor space created.
This particular bungalow loft conversion was restricted to height therefore this conversion consisted of raising the roof pitch from 33° to 42°, we introduced Dutch hips to all elevations including the three cottage dormers, two in the main roof and one above the garage, this helps to soften the impact on the street scene, five huge bedrooms were created all with en-suite and walk in wardrobes, the conversion was on such a great scale two staircases were installed both with stunning gallery landings, 22 Velux windows were installed with a banks of three Velux windows side by side on the landings, over 40 thousand plain tiles were used to re-roof the property.
FLAT ROOF DORMER LOFT CONVERSIONS:
Flat roof dormers give the maximum amount of additional internal space, this loft conversion is the most popular for several reasons, one being that the conversion is simply an extension to the existing roof but creates much more additional floor and head room within the newly converted room, also generally becoming the largest room within your home. Most clients will opt for a en-suite in this particular conversion as internally a dormer will have a horizontal ceiling and vertical walls, which provide additional space that can maximised, gaining a good source of natural light through either large windows or even French doors.
Flat roof rear dormer conversion is finished on the outside with plain tiles, 267mm x 168mm, the main colours used are Grey slate, Old English red and brown, recently introduced colours include Anthracite and black.
VELUX LOFT CONVERSIONS:
A Rooflight & Velux conversion are the same, this is when your loft conversion if formed within the existing roof space and without actually altering the profile of your roof. A Velux loft conversion is the most cost effective option and works best when you have ample headroom so you can make full use of all the space available.
Velux loft conversions name came from the the most popular roof window company Velux, these particular loft conversions require considerably less construction work and are not as disruptive as other forms of conversions. installation of Velux Windows is a fantastic way of making your loft space feel spacious by allowing natural light and air.
COTTAGE DORMER LOFT CONVERSIONS:
Cottage Dormer loft conversions are usually situated at the front of a property. The dormer is a vertical window with a roof of its own, positioned, at least in part, within the slope of the roof incurring a lead valleys. Cottage Dormers are a perfect way to achieve headroom where required, the dormer itself does not create a lot of extra floor space but are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Cottage Dormers are finished on the outside with plain tiles like a rear dormer.
Cottage Dormers must be in proportion with your existing roof volume, as once constructed they are an integral part of the overall design of the property if they are built to large the results can look dreadful, as they overpower the rest of the house.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR A LOFT CONVERSION?
From your initial contact we will arrange a convenient time to suit you to visit your home and discuss your requirements, each loft conversion is designed to your own individual specification to gain maximum comfortable & versatile living. The main loft conversions are a Velux / Rooflight Conversion, Hip to Gable Conversions and of course the most popular to gain the maximum floor area the Rear Dormer Conversion. All flat roof dormer roofs are covered in a seamless rubber membrane, unless a Cat Slide roof is introduced.
Following our visit, we will prepare you a written and fixed price proposal on your loft conversion, if Rafter Loft Conversions are your perfect partners a time & date will be arranged for our architect to visit your home to undertake a structural survey in order to prepare your plans for approval, after you have approved the plans we will submit them to building control along with structural calculations to get full approval.
On the mutual convenient date to start work, the bulk of the material’s will be delivered on the first morning. Once the steels and primary beams are in place the construction of the floor can commence, whilst at this stage your floor to floor is determined, then and only then your bespoke staircase will be ordered to match the new floor to floor height. The next stage is to upgrade your roof structure and fit if any Velux roof windows, following the installation of the windows the insulation is then introduced to make the new room conform with the latest regulations.
Now we’re ready to build the new internal walls and divide the loft into rooms you require, once completed the stairwell aperture will be carefully cut out, then your bespoke staircase will then be fitted to access your new loft room/s. After installing the staircase there is a few of days to finish the joinery work ready for the plasterers. Our time served plaster’s will commence work when all joinery has been completed.
WHAT PLANNING LEGISLATION IS INVOLVED WITH A LOFT CONVERSION:
Building Regulations must be adhered to on every loft conversion as Building Regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings, Order 2015: sets out classes of development for which planning permission is automatically given, this is only provided that no restrictive conditions are attached or the development is exempt from the permitted development rights.
Planning legislation allows accommodation to be extended into the roof space without planning permission, providing the extension is within the rules set out under the Town & Country Planning Legislation. Such alterations are made under what are known as permitted development rights. Alterations and inclusions are defined under Schedule 2 which is separated into two classes:
- Class A Part 1 Enlargements, improvements or alterations of dwellings generally.
- Class B Enlargement or conversion of a dwelling that involves addition or alteration to the roof.
The primary aims of planning control are to prevent excessive increases in the house volume and to prevent an increased height or substantial change of the shape of a roof that will affect the visual relationship of a building to its neighbours. However, planning permission is not required unless the roof volume is increased, in planning terms the ‘volume’ of a house includes the roof, whether occupied or not therefore merely converting the roof will not increase the existing volume. The advantage of using the space within the existing roof height and shape is that, in the majority of cases, planning approval will not be required for the conversion. However, if the roof conversion is part of a larger extension of the house, the total increased volume will have to comply with the statutory limits. Planning approval will always be required if there is a change of use of the building involved. Planning approval will also be required where rooflights/velux windows project above the roof plane on the slope facing the highway.
Permitted development rights are restricted in conservation areas, and areas of outstanding natural beauty and on any listed building. Any alteration to a building, which affects its appearance in these circumstances, will always require planning permission for any alteration. Any work to a listed building, even if it does not alter the appearance will require listed building consent.
When a loft conversion on a building is planned, all building work must confirm with the statutory requirements of the relevant national Building Regulations, when a property or building exceeds two floors there are more stringent requirements to be met. These cover the requirements, such as structural stability, thermal insulation, fitness of materials etc. They are supported by examples of construction that are accepted as capable of meeting the requirements. Other methods may be acceptable, but compliance must be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Building Control Surveyor. Building Control Surveyors often adopt a flexible approach to conversion because of the individual nature of the work, but they should be consulted at an early stage in the design.
APPLYING FOR PLANNING PERMISSION AND BUILDING CONTROL FOR A LOFT CONVERSION:
If the proposed project requires planning consent, then an application has to be made to the local authority using relevant application forms. The application has to include details of the design showing how it affects the appearance of buildings concerned. There is a fee payable to the local authority who are required to notify the applicant of the decision of the planning committee with an agreed time scale. The application can be made by anyone involved in the project, but is often made by the architect, surveyor or loft conversion specialist.
Building Regulation consent can be applied for in one of two ways, either a Full Plans Application or by giving a Building Notice. A Full Plans Application is the most common route and involves sending in sets of plans showing all details and calculations subject to the Building Regulations. The local authority is required to give their decision within an agreed time scale. An inspection fee is payable to the Building Control Surveyor who will visit the loft conversion at key stages during construction to ensure that work complies with the regulations.
The alternative of giving a Building Notice costs the same but the total fee must be paid when the Building Notice is given. Full plans are not required but it is probable that The Building Control Surveyor will request a layout plan of the loft conversion with details of beam sizes etc and may request support structural calculations. The Building Notice must be issued before work commences and the onus is on whoever is carrying out the work to comply with the Building Regulations. The Building Control Surveyor will visit the site frequently to ensure that work complies with the Regulations.
STRUCTURAL STABILITY REQUIRED FOR A LOFT CONVERSION:
New structural members or alterations to existing structural members in order to convert an existing roof must be undertaken by a structural engineer, this is to ensure both the stability of the existing structure and the structural sufficiency of the new structure, formal calculations may be requested by Building Control in support of an application for approval.
FIRE RESISTANCE IN A LOFT CONVERSION:
All loft conversions must conform with fire requirements in the National Regulations. This largely concerns the conversion of an upper floor ceiling to a new floor construction, which must then achieve the fire resistance of an intermediate floor – normally 30 minutes.
The requirement for fire resistance includes any member supporting a floor, even if this extends beyond the actual floor area of the accommodation, I.e. between the outer wall of an loft space and the external wall at the eaves. (Note, if the roof accommodation will be of a different occupancy, such as a separate flat, to that on the floor below, it may be necessary to achieve full separating floor fire resistance, usually 60 minutes.)
If an existing floor supports a new staircase to habitable space in the roof, If an attic wall forms part of a separating wall, between properties, it must achieve the full fire resistance of a separating wall.
If the roof space incorporates a chimney or a flue any new construction must comply with the space separation requirements for combustible material. No combustible material other than a floor, skirting, picture rail, mantle-shelf or architrave should be closer than 200mm to a flue in a chimney or 40mm from outer surface of a masonry chimney. Nails, screws or other metal fixing timber to a masonry chimney should be at least 50mm from the flue always remember to consider the position of the chimneys and ventilation stacks in relation to the position of windows.
SURFACE SPREAD OF FLAME:
Walls and ceilings to any new accommodation within the roof must comply with appropriate spread of flame requirements. Plasterboard will meet the spread of flame requirements. Any surface that slopes at an angle of 70 degrees or more to the horizontal is deemed to be a wall.
SOUND INSULATION REQUIRED FOR A LOFT CONVERSION:
All walls separating dwellings must have adequate airborne sound insulation. Existing separating walls in roof spaces may not provide adequate resistance to airborne sound if the roof is converted into occupied space on one side of the separating wall. If an attic room abuts a separating wall, the wall must therefore be lined to provide equivalent sound insulation to the separating wall elsewhere in the building.
Gaps left in existing separating /party walls should be filled with bricks or blocks with a sand and cement mix. If a timber frame is used it should only be fixed to the floor and roof structure, any gaps between the framing and the floors and roofs sealed with acoustic sealant. Separate timber frames will reduce the roof space dimension between separating walls by approximately 90mm.
Plasterboard lining to a timber framed separating wall will normally be adequate for fire resistance but additional plasterboard may be required to improve sound insulation. Mineral fibre/plasterboard laminates can be used to line timber frame and masonry separating walls to improve both sound insulation and fire resistance.
In residential dwelling houses if a loft conversion is going to be constructed, construction should be designed in such a way that it provides reasonable resistance to sound from other parts of the same building and from adjoining neighbours.
VENTILATION OF NEW LOFT CONVERSION:
Windows to habitable rooms should be proportional to the floor area with background ventilation as required in all rooms. Bathrooms should be provided with an opening window, and a mechanical ventilation fan should also be provided which may be operated intermittently.
The introduction of a room into a previously open roof space will restrict the flow of natural ventilation through the roof intended to avoid condensation. The existing ventilation provision, if any, at the eaves may have to be increased to maintain a continuous airflow, a 50mm gap should be maintained on a flat roof dormer to provide a lateral flow of air.
Where accommodation occurs within a roof space. It is important to incorporate a vapour control layer on the warm side of the insulation for both walls and sloping ceilings.
Adequate room ventilation is required to prevent the build of water vapour within the rooms. Extract ventilation to bathrooms and kitchens and background ventilation to habitable rooms should provide sufficient ventilation for this purpose.
ACCESS TO AND FROM LOFT CONVERSION:
The pitch of any stair leading to a room within the loft must confirm with Building Requirements, they must also conform to requirements of escape, and require some form of fire protection.
Adding a loft conversion to a two storey building effectively increases it to three storeys with consequent increased requirements, there is no restriction on the type of staircase, which may be a straight flight, a winding staircase, a quarter landing or a half landing. Loft ladders are NOT to be used to provide access to any new room in the roof other than for storage.
In instances where there is insufficient headroom at the top of a staircase a VELUX roof window can provide additional height as well as light and ventilation. An alternative means of achieving the required head height is to create a dropped landing. This also creates an interesting design feature.
WHAT THERMAL INSULATION IS USED ON A LOFT CONVERSION?
Any habitable accommodation inserted into the roof space will be above this insulation and has to be insulated in line with the requirements of the current National Regulations. This can be done by either insulating the whole roof pitch from ridge to eaves, or by insulation around the new accommodation only.
The first method is more complicated to do, and will involve more insulation material, particularly in the apex of the roof.
The second method saves on the amount of insulation required, the walls and any part of the sloping ceiling and any horizontal ceiling over the habitable space will in this case need to be insulated.
Any gable wall in the roof accommodation will have to be insulated to conform with thermal requirements for external walls. This can be done by using plasterboard with insulation laminated to the back face or in timber-frame construction by inserting mineral wool insulation between the studs before lining them with a vapour control layer and plasterboard.
HOW MANY WINDOWS GO INTO A LOFT CONVERSION?
Regulations state there is a specific requirement that glazed areas must be equivalent to a proportion of the floor, any habitable room should have a source of daylight and a view out. Good practice would suggest a minimum glazed area equivalent to 1/10 of the floor area for this purpose.
Roof windows can provide these facilities and dormer windows general appearance of a roof should not be affected by the conversion of the roof space, even if the height and shape have not been affected.
If a roof overlooks a ‘public highway’, or any projection above an existing roof plane it will require planning approval. Roof windows parallel to the slope of roof do not require planning approval as they do not project significantly and will therefore have a limited effect on the appearance of the roof. In a particularly critical environment, such as a conservation area, a recessed type of roof window can be used instead of a standard type.
CAN THE BATHROOM IN THE LOFT CONVERSION GO ANYWHERE?
Where a new bathroom is located in a loft conversion, provisions are required for the height and for hot and cold water supplies and drainage. Access must be made available to for maintenance to any water tanks re-located into the void areas.
If pipe-runs from the hot water cylinder are long, and the appliances will only have occasional use, for example a guest bathroom, the use of electric instantaneous water heaters to basins and showers might be considered as an alternative.
If you choose to have a bathroom in your loft conversion the position of the existing drainage will influence the location of sanitary fittings in that there is a maximum permitted length for unvented branch connections from baths and basins. If the lengths of branch pipes exceed these requirements they must be directly ventilated to the external air.
Alternatively, a ventilating pipe may terminate inside the building if fitted with an air admittance valve, a AAV installed internally are usually fitted within rooms or in the roof space, the great advantage of using a AAV is that they remove the need for holes through the roof or external walls, and reduce the amount of pipework required.
WHAT TYPE OF HEATING IS INTRODUCED IN A LOFT CONVERSION?
Loft conversions usually have low heat losses due to the high elemental insulation requirements required, as long as the existing boiler has sufficient capacity there should be no problem adding additional radiator/s. If the conversion forms part of a larger refurbishment, then a new central heating system may be viable. An electrical radiator can be introduced in your new loft room if pipe work is inaccessible.
WHAT ARE THE GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR A LOFT CONVERSION?
Any re-roofing necessary in converting the roof must conform with the performance of the original roof in terms of fire resistance, durability and general fitness for purpose. Preservative treatment to roof timbers is not mandatory, but if evidence of previous infestation of woodworm or previous fungal decay is visible treatment should be undertaken prior to sealing the roof structure.
WILL YOU NEED TO COME AND DO A HOME VISIT FOR A LOFT CONVERSION QUOTE?
Yes. We will require coming to your home at a time that is convenient, take a look at your loft space, and take some measurements to consider all your options, and to go through the stair configuration, also this gives you also the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Once we have the information we require we can then provide you with a bespoke detailed quotation and free cad drawing of your new loft conversion.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN THE STRUCTURAL DESIGN OF THE LOFT CONVERSION?
Introducing new floor joists in a loft conversion:
Your existing ceiling joists are very unlikely to be adequate to act as floor joists, therefore fitting new deeper joists between existing ceiling joists, if existing binders are to be removed the existing ceiling joists will require support from the new floor joists and their weight should be added to the floor joist dead load. Position new steel beams above existing ceiling. Insert new floor joists into beam web.
New partition loads in the roof space should not be supported by the floor decking only, additional joists will be required below internal non-load-bearing partitions running parallel with the floor joists.
Floor openings formed for stair access can impose heavy loads on trimmers. Trimming joists onto existing load-bearing walls, or onto new walls or floor beams either transfers these concentrated loads. Double joists may be required as trimmers to frame stair openings.
Floor covering in a Loft Conversion:
Floorboards should be cramped before screwing, and all screws should be below the board surface, screws should be 55mm in length 3.5mm in width. Three screws should be used at each support. The ends of boards should be butted over joists with both boards adequately supported. End joists should be staggered so that they are at least two board widths apart. Any board should span at least three joists.
Flooring to habitable roof space should be laid in accordance to reduce vibration and damage to existing plaster ceilings to be retained, fixing floor decking to any floors by screwing is preferable to nailing.
Loft floor decking is usually fitted to a house that already has heating therefore moisture content isn’t really a issue and this prevents excessive shrinkage and possible distortion, tongued and grooved flooring is usually used in loft conversions 2400mm x 600mm.
Soundproofing and insulating your Loft Conversion:
Insulating your loft conversion correctly will in no doubt save you money in the long run, insulation comes in variety of products so if you plan to convert your loft into a cinema, entertainment room or especially a music studio loft soundproofing is a must, this can be achieved with acoustic insulation in all partition walls, under building regulations any wall that has a fixed door does not have to be insulated but it is good practice to insulate every wall including the walls with doors, if it is not for acoustic value it will help with thermal values. If your loft conversion is going to be used as in the above you can apply soundproof plasterboard, the density of the board is higher than that of standard plasterboard. Soundproof plasterboard comes in two sizes 1200mm x 1200mm and 2400mm x 1200mm both boards come in 12.5mm thickness, acoustic plasterboard can be used to help reduce noise transmission through walls and ceilings. Rafter – Lofts would advise that this plasterboard should be used in combination with other products to achieve the maximum levels of soundproofing.
Beams can be built into existing cavity walls but to allow for end supports the beams must be approximately 200mm longer than the clear span of the room or space. Timber beams should not be built into external solid masonry walls. Heavy duty galvanised steel hangers are an alternative means of supporting timber beams. Steel hangers should be appropriate for the load to be supported. Hangers should be supported directly by bricks or concrete blocks with the face of the hanger tight against the wall face.
Only timber posts or studs must support timber beams in timber frame walls. This may require walls to be opened up to insert new timbers. Alternatively, it may be possible to position the post against the wall face, f it is necessary to insert new studs on posts into an external timber frame wall, the vapour control layer must be reinstated and the effect on the thermal insulation of the wall considered.
If new rafters are to be inserted between existing ones or alongside, they should be selected from span tables set out by building control, if purlins are repositioned, it is essential to check the effective rafter span, the overall rafter length required should be checked against the availability of suitable timber and provision for lapped or spliced joints made when necessary.
Calculations for new roof loads:
The roof imposed load and dead load from roof tiles or slates, timber battens, underlay or boards, rafters, insulation and linings is measured on the slope, the total weight is resolved having structural calculated upgrades.
Roof windows for a Loft Conversion:
The specification of the windows is particularly important in loft conversions, not only are they crucial in providing natural light but also sufficient ventilation. Both centre-pivot and top-hung windows can be rotated to provide access for cleaning. Repainting of the pre-finished external aluminium cladding is not necessary.
Incorporating a roof window will usually reduce the total roof load since the weight of the window may be less than that of the roofing materials, which it replaces. The imposed load on the roof is unaffected. Narrow roof windows can be fitted between rafters of 600mm spacing, otherwise trimmed openings will be formed to fit the required size of window.
THERE ITS BATS IN MY LOFT SO WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Having bats in your roof space does not necessarily mean that work cannot be carried out however it does mean that the work will need careful consideration, especially in terms of time and materials. All of the UK’s bats and their roosts are protected by law so if you are planning any building or remedial work that may affect a roost, The Bat Conservation Trust’s should be contacted for advice and will provide advice on how to proceed while causing minimal disturbance to bats.
There are more than 1,300 bat species in the world, and bats can be as large as a small dog or as small as a bee. The largest bats have wingspans of up to 2 metres and the body weight of up to 1.5 kilograms. At the other end of the scale is the bumblebee bat, weighing only 2 grams. We only have only 18 species of the 1,300 bat species in the UK. It is an illegal offence if you: Capture, injure or kill a bat, intentionally destroy their home or disturb them, intentionally obstruct access to a bats roost or exchange or sell a bat, whether dead or alive.
WHEN RAFTER LOFT CONVERSION’S QUOTE FOR A CONVERSION HOW LONG DO WE HAVE BEFORE WE DECIDE WHETHER TO PROCEED?
Loft conversion quotes are valid for 90 days from the date of issue, this is due to ever changing prices on the materials. The price we quote is a fixed price and will not change, however if you would like to amend the speciation then we will provide you with a cost prior to any works starting, if you require any additions during construction we will agree a fixed price before any additional work is undertaken.
ROOF BEAMS IN A LOFT CONVERSION:
When purlins and supports are to be removed to form usable space, alternative support must be provided to the rafters. It is important to establish the total function of the existing purlin since in some cases purlins and ties may provide resistance to outward thrust as well as vertical support.
A number of alternative solutions are possible depending upon the size and construction of the roof, such as the following (either individually or in combination)
- If existing purlin support has to be removed alternative support off existing load-bearing walls below or onto a new supporting structure in the roof space is required.
- Insert new purlins at new levels, this may necessitate additional rafter support because of the longer rafter span between the new purlin and the eaves. This can be provided by an additional purlin or by stiffening the rafters with new timber alongside the existing.
- Insert a ridge beam, the simplest way of installing a ridge beam is to go from gable/party to gable/party walls. Inserting a ridge beam should be considered when it is necessary to remove existing ceiling joists. Adding a ridge beam minimises outward thrust in the rafters.
- It is uneconomic to use solid timber purlins for unsupported spans in excess of 4.0m. Internal load bearing walls or posts should be used where the span exceeds 4.0m. For longer spans, or where no intermediate support is possible, fabricated timber or steel beams should be considered
- Deep beams may be used to support both roof and floor load, using either metal hangers nailed to the primary beams to carry the floor joists.
Alternative timber beams include:
- Plywood web I-beam
- Plywood box-beam
- Steel flitch beam
MEANS OF ESCAPE:
A house that is extended or altered to add a third storey has to comply with stringent emergency escape provisions. The conversion of a roof space that provides one or more new habitable rooms at second floor level should include the following provisions:
- The existing stairway/stairwell at ground and first floor levels should be enclosed and the stairway should open directly to a final exit, or to a space which provides two escape routes, each to a final exit, and separated from each other.
- The new stairway must comply with the requirements of the regulations. A new staircase within an existing stairway enclosure should be separated from any new rooms, and should be separated from that room and the rest of the house by fire resisting construction.
- Escape routes over balconies or flat roofs (of fire resisting construction) will require to be protected by guardrails in accordance with the Regulations.
- The installation of hard wired and battery backup smoke alarms in all habitable rooms off the escape route is mandatory, unless you have an open plan staircase a sprinkler system may be introduced.
WHAT IS PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The Government relaxed some forms of planning permission alongside Permitted Development in the Town and Country Planning Act of 1948. Permitted Development Rights mean that you can extend your home up to a certain percentage (see below) without full planning permission, however you must follow the many rules. In 2008 Permitted Development rights were reviewed in an attempt to stimulate growth in the building sector, Permitted Development rules were ‘relaxed’ supposedly for only a few years. The level of work you can undertake within your Permitted Development rights depends on a variety of factors including your location and the extent of work you have already carried out. It is not just regulations that were relaxed for a loft conversion but other building works.
- Permitted Development rules for a loft conversion in any roof space created must not exceed these volume allowances of 50m3 (cubic meters) for detached and semi-detached houses & 40m3 (cubic meters) for terraced houses.
- Loft extensions are NOT under P.D for houses on designated land.
- No part of the extension is to be higher than the highest part of the existing roof.
- Any side-facing windows must be obscure-glazed and non-opening unless the parts which can be opened are more than 1.7 metres above the floor of the room in which it is installed.
- An extension beyond the plane of the existing roof slope of the principal elevation that fronts a highway is NOT a P.D.
- Loft conversion dormer’s apart from hip to gable ones are to be set back, as far as is practicable, at least 20cms from the eaves. The 20cm distance is measured along the roof plane. The roof enlargement cannot overhang the outer face of the wall of the original house.
- Verandas, balconies or raised platforms are NOT a Permitted Development.
- Materials should be similar in appearance to the existing house
- Bats are a protected species you can NOT undertake any conversion if Bats are present.
- Building Regulations must be adhered to on every loft conversion even with P.D.
- You have no P.D. rights if your dwelling is categorized as a listed building.
- No P.D. in designated areas, i.e. Conservation Area or an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, etc.
HERE ARE SOME LOOPHOLES UNDER PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT.
Loft Conversion Process:
- If Scaffolding is required for your loft conversion this will be put up a couple of days prior of works commencing.
- The main primary beams are the which take the new floor and roof load are put in place, if steels are required these will be either craned into position or spliced into manageable sections and winched onto the scaffolding, ready to put in place.
- The floor joists are put in place as per structural calculations, i.e. 300mm centres to 450mm centres.
- Once the floor is decked the rear roof can be stripped and a rear dormer or a wrap-around can be constructed, if applicable. All dormers are built within a day and securely sealed.
- The roof structure will up-graded for installation of roof windows.
- The carcass of the loft is insulated and plaster boarded, any wiring or pipe work will be put in place prior to plaster boarding.
- Partition walls are then introduced where required.
- The stairwell will be cut out now for the installation of your bespoke staircase, and all second fix joinery completed, door frames, doors, skirting, architrave, handrail, spindles etc.
Second fix electrics, plumbing and plastering will be all completed in the final week of works.