Can we do a Loft Conversion - lessons learned thread?

(49 Posts)
Itshouldntmatter Sat 24-May-14 21:25:02

This is a total steal from the Bathrooms lesson's learned thread, but we are doing a loft, with a bathroom (and two bedrooms), and the bathrooms thread was so incredibly interesting and helpful, I'd be massively grateful if we could start a similar loft one. I have so many questions - should we get triple glazed velux (worried south facing and two big velux will end up like a sauna)? Should we get velux fitted blackouts or get our own added? Should we include extra sound proofing? Honestly, there are so many questions, and I'm sure there are many things I haven't thought of, so if anyone can tell me what they love/hate about their loft conversions, that would be fantastic! Thanks so much.

EwanHoozami Sun 25-May-14 07:56:01

Loft is just a twinkle in my bank account but I'm starting to dream of one for when the DCs are bigger. All I have to suggest is that it's a good idea to put in hard wired smoke / heat detectors when doing any prior rewiring so it's ready for the loft convo to get up to req's

Artandco Sun 25-May-14 08:02:58

- double the required insulation. Lofts are usually badly insulated and you don't want it freezing in winter/ hot in summer

- largest window possible. With fitted blinds. Remember you can't really add curtains so you want the blackout option.

- large window also as remember it might be needed as fire escape

- add double electrical plug points you think. Plus add a telephone port for Internet incase needed. Means rooms can be used as main office/ music room/ etc later on if needed ( adds value if sell also )

- decent size staircase leading up rather than ultra narrow if possible

- build cupboards/ drawers/ storage into the eaves part of bedrooms. Most standard stuff won't fit or make use of spare

MummytoMog Sun 25-May-14 09:19:25

If you can afford it, build in storage - our loft conversion is lovely, but fitting in drawers and wardrobes was an exercise in ingenuity! I actually have Ikea Stolmen drawers in my eaves space as they're nice and big, but only 50 cm high!

winkywinkola Sun 25-May-14 09:28:42

Make sure there is flow from one window on one side of roof to the other. Otherwise air just sits there.

ExCinnamon Sun 25-May-14 09:47:15

Yes to Blackout Blinds for Velux.

You don't need a big window anymore for fire regs. Mains wired fire alarm is standard for new conversions.

Yes to double insulation. Def more than the required insulation so make sure you get a quote including it.

Built in storage!! In the hallway under eaves, everywhere.

We put sound insulation into the party wall as my teens are up there and neighbours have a loft conversion as well.

Stairs up to the loft have the same spindles as the rest of the staircase. Makes the whole thing look like it's always been there. I went for pine instead of oak as cheaper and I painted them white anyway.
Had to look around to find a woodturner who took a sample spindle and replicated it. Wasn't expensive and looks fab.

hyperspacebug Sun 25-May-14 10:39:55

Hijacking thread....My DH is keen on doing shell loft conversion, then improve the loft later when more money becomes available. Are there minuses/lessons learnt from that?

NotCitrus Sun 25-May-14 11:23:27

Check your builder really is registered with the orgs they claim...
Some years later: you will not regret lots of insulation, as large Veluxes as possible, sound imsultation, proper balcony, lots of doors to crawl space because you can't crawl in it once it has stuff in.
Do plan a bathroom really carefully as an odd-shaped shower surround can add an extra thousand quid. Check it fits with what is below - above your main bathroom is the obvious place.

Planning and Building Control are separate teams who never speak to each other and may have contradictory requirements. Check before building... They are still arguing about what if any fire doors we need.

NotCitrus Sun 25-May-14 11:27:50

hyper that was roughly what we did. Depends how likely you are to finish rapidly and how much that will get on your wick. Our loft was meant to be done for ds to be born. Both bedrooms were finished by the time he was 6 months, but he's 5.5 now and there is a working toilet and basin and cupboards in the bathroom, and all materials, but still needs flooring, tiling, shower. DP uses the bathtub with boards over as an extra desk.

Dont underestimate how much acquiring 3 kids will slow down both money saving and time to do it...

MummytoMog Sun 25-May-14 17:12:16

We sort of did that, but it was only a shell for a few months, it was too annoying to leave it.

MatronMarian Sun 25-May-14 17:30:18

IIRC, there are buildings regs issues with going to two rooms. You end up wasting a lot of area as hallway and landing.

Our loft conversion is a 6m x 6m space with ensuite. We have a 2 foot wide staircase and no wasted space with landings.

What we did to overcome a couple of technical issues:

1) we upgraded our hot water system to mains pressure, which means we don't need extra pumps to get hot water to shoes on the first or second floors, nor rely on piddly electric showers.

2) we installed a hear pump heater/airconditioner. This means that we don't use up valuable wall space with radiators (nor do we need to replace our boiler), and we stay cool in the summer.

In our loft conversion, we have a dormer that runs the full length of the back of the house. At the front, we have two velux windows - one large which is the "means of escape". We don't have any coverings on them. No one has complained smile.

Itshouldntmatter Tue 27-May-14 13:37:52

Thanks everyone. Some really useful tips. Anyone else? How many newly converted lofts have noise issues? And temperature issues? Just trying to work out how much extra sound proofing/insulation we should think about!

Marmitelover55 Tue 27-May-14 13:46:59

Ours was done 11 years ago. I regret not having dormer/shower. It is also hot in summer snc cold in winter, so probably not enough insulation. On the plus side the stairs just go on up and look like they have always been there.

Eghamite Tue 27-May-14 15:47:48

We haven't ever had a concern about noise. The floor of the loft is quite remote from the first floor ceiling. It has its own large joists.

I don't think our neighbours have been disturbed either.

As for temperature, we decided to have a separate heating and cooling system from the rest of the house by installing a heat pump.

TalkinPeace Tue 27-May-14 20:55:22

we switched to mains power water so no loft tanks
yy to storage
yy to insulation
yy to blackout blinds

we have not had building regs sign off because planning and building regs contradicted each other about fire doors
and as there is no requirement for doors to be closed, I refuse to change my doors

spotty26 Tue 27-May-14 21:03:05

Tallest ceilings possible!

Eghamite Wed 28-May-14 08:33:19

Building Regs dictated that we had mains powered smoke alarms and door closures. The builder said we could remove the closures after everything was signed off. Ten years later, we still have them smile

We definitely did not have to replace our doors.

Poppy7 Wed 28-May-14 10:58:05

Would agree on the insulation. We moved into a house with a loft conversion last winter - was freezing up there as drafts come through the eaves doors, and now the weather is getting warmer it is very stuffy... We are looking into how we can improve the insulation without ripping apart the conversion!

WillieWaggledagger Wed 28-May-14 11:07:22

marking place...

our loft is boarded and there is already a staircase (put in over 15 years ago and several owners ago, but no building regs sign-off from what i can tell hmm). so that will need to be sorted, but at least there is already a hole in the first floor ceiling! we want a small loo up there as there is no bathroom/loo on the first floor

re party wall sound insulation - this is going to be a must as you can definitely hear the difference as soon as you go into the loft. i can hear neighbours talking in their (first floor) bedrooms which you can't hear on the first floor of my house

WillieWaggledagger Wed 28-May-14 11:07:50

sorry, not 15 years ago, more like 25 years ago

Itshouldntmatter Wed 28-May-14 15:19:29

WillieWaggle I'm envious! It sounds like all the dirty work is done, it is just all the rest you need to do.

SecretSanta16386 Wed 28-May-14 15:59:04

We have a house where the loft has 'sort of' been converted. There are two velux windows at the back of the house (so great sea views) but they would not be suitable for escape as no way down...

The floor has been boarded and is carpetted - a teenaged boy had this room as his bedroom with the last owners.

There are (22) plug sockets and an intercom system already in place.

We have a loft ladder and no obvious way to continue the stairs which already go up through the middle of the other 3 floors of our house.

Does this sound like something a loft conversion company could do? we have never contacted one as we have no ideas - but now am thinking they would bring the ideas with them!?

SecretSanta16386 Wed 28-May-14 15:59:32

No idea why I posted that under an old name change!

omama Mon 02-Jun-14 22:12:30

following & bumping smile

we're thinking of doing a loft conversion & need plenty of tips!

EagleRay Mon 02-Jun-14 22:51:37

storage, project/office space and also as a guest bedroom. The bed is a mattress on the floor, tucked away under the eaves (the space was constructed to fit a double bed perfectly) and it has its own low level lighting. It's a really popular place with guests, especially children as it feels a bit like camping and it also means that there's not a barely-used double bed taking up most of the main floor space.

Here are some more thoughts/lessons learned:

Blinds - I bought cheapish blackout blinds designed for velux windows and they've been brilliant - just make sure to factor in as part of your budget.

Heating - it would have cost a lot more to extend the plumbing up to the attic so at the builder's suggestion I went for electric wall heaters instead. The loft is so heavily insulated that they are rarely used, even in winter. And when they're switched in, they normally make the room toasty in about 2 minutes!

Insulation - there are regulations about how much insulation you should have (in order to pass building regs). I recall that it was so thick it did shrink the room down a bit. Was a fairly big deal as ceiling height was doable but with no room to spare, and the required thickness of insulation meant the room 'shrunk' down a fair bit from the planned dimensions

Dormer - I don't have one and the main reasons for not going ahead were 1) I couldn't afford it, 2) the neighbours would have made my life very difficult if I had put in a planning application and 3) no one in my street had a dormer and so I assumed they weren't permitted. If I was getting the loft done now I would go for it as a different neighbour has subsequently had one put in, and I've come to realise my neighbours complain about EVERYTHING.

Flooring - my house is full of gappy, stripped floorboards. I wanted to continue what my builder referred politely to 'rustic' flooring in the attic, but without the gappiness/draughtyness so he laid chipboard (or similar) down, and some reclaimed floorboards were screwed down on top and then sanded, stained and waxed. It looks very nice!

Views - if you have a view you want to take advantage of, have a good think about the positioning of the windows, esp if velux. I wanted to have a view I could see while sitting or standing, but got the measurements slightly wrong and they're a little on the high side.

Cupboards - I've got built-in under eaves cupboards on both sides and feel a little bit meh about them. They're really awkward to access and full of stuff that doesn't ever get used, and is nigh-on impossible to get at! Meanwhile, all the stuff we use more regularly which should be in the cupboards (luggage, sports gear etc) is laid out all over the floor.

Builders - a loft conversion is a really invasive project. Before you start, find out how the builders plan to access your loft, ie via scaffolding or from within the house? Mine put scaffolding up but then proceeded to use the front door every single day (still have no idea whatsoever the scaffolding was for, apart from inflaming my neighbours). Think through some worst-case scenarios and establish clearly how they'll be handled. For example, what if someone puts a foot through the ceiling? What if someone accidentally spills wet plaster all over the stair carpet? (hmm can you tell I'm speaking from experience?) This is all standard stuff regarding having the builders in, but a loft conversion can be a pretty epic experience in terms of having your house wrecked!

All in all, I'm pretty happy with my loft - it's a relatively small space but earns its keep by being a multipurpose room. And as it passed all the building regs, it's classed as a 4th bedroom, which impacts the value of the house.

Sorry for unneccessarily long post - hope there's some vaguely useful bits in there somewhere!

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