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Half arsed loft conversion - how much?

(34 Posts)
MissHonkover Mon 06-Jun-11 11:56:13

Want to make our loft into a useable room (not a bedroom). We don't have room for a permanent staircase (teeny terrace) so will be accessing it via a pull-down ladder. We plan to do the following:

Move loft hatch into a different room than its current location
Install pull down ladder
Put in Velux window
Put in electrics & lighting
Put in flooring
Insulate and plaster board roof
Undecided as to whether to add radiator (connected to existing GCH) or use plug in heater eg oil filled radiator

The condition of the roof is OKish, may need a couple of very minor repairs.

Any ideas as to cost?
Thank you ta!

conculainey Mon 06-Jun-11 12:21:50

You will probably need to get the floor reinforced with steel beams before any work is carried out as roof timbers are not suitable or strong enough to take the weight of a floor with furniture etc and you will need to get planning permission as well. The cost of having the steel beams installed would most likely be the most expensive job.

Gonzo33 Mon 06-Jun-11 12:23:54

Having never done a loft conversion I cannot say one way or the other, but I did find this information for you.

MissHonkover Mon 06-Jun-11 12:39:58


I liked this bit in the article: a basic storage solution can often be done in just a day or two and there are some specialist loft conversion companies who will, for around £1000, install joists, a new hatch, lighting and a loft ladder in just 24 hours.

That's not taking into account a window or heating but it's a start.

Gonzo33 Mon 06-Jun-11 12:51:49

Good luck with it MissHonkover

noddyholder Mon 06-Jun-11 12:53:38

What do you want to use it for? We have a mezzanine which is big enough for sleepover/office space and looks very good and only cost £3k

WinkyWinkola Mon 06-Jun-11 12:53:44

I didn't think you need planning permission for loft conversions anymore? Especially with velux windows?

smartyparts Mon 06-Jun-11 13:01:41

If you're doing structural alterations, including installing a Velux, you'll need to notify your local building control.

Unless the room is for storage only, it would be considered habitable, regardless of whether it's a bedroom or not and for that, you would not be allowed a ladder for access - it would have to be stairs and then! you'd have to comply with the regs in terms of means of escape in case of fire.

MissHonkover Mon 06-Jun-11 13:22:06

Ooh, it's getting complicated! We would love to have an extra bedroom, but the reason we weren't thinking of that is because there's no room for a fixed staircase unless we were to take a chunk out of one of the existing bedrooms. (Perhaps I need to start another thread about space saving staircases!)

The room will be used as an office/study. A mezzanine wouldn't be any use to us unfortunately because our ceilings aren't high enough. Pah.

smartypants, is it the window that would define the room as a 'room' rather than as storage?

noddyholder Mon 06-Jun-11 13:26:26

If you are not planning to move get a decent local builder round and say you want a hobby room/storage. You can have a ladder for this or paddle stairs and as long as you don't try and sell it as a bedroom when you move it is fine. Velux windows installed between the rafters(eg small) and not in a conservation area don't need planning or building regs.

smartyparts Mon 06-Jun-11 13:29:51

No, it's your use of it. You could just do what is necessary and involve building control for the Velux & any structural work, but your certificate would say the room was for storage purposes only.

If you use the room ie a study/den/tv room whatever it is classed as habitable and the regs do not permit ladders for this. Where I work, we do allow space saver (alternate tread) stairs, but I don't think all authorities do. But then you'd have to comply with Part B, ie fire doors on all 1st floor doors and have a protected route form the loft to the outside air.

So basically, you may wish to think carefully about whether you're going to call it a loft conversion with your local authority as it can be onerous & expensive to get them to comply with the regs.


MissHonkover Mon 06-Jun-11 15:05:49

Thanks, helpful stuff there. Sounds like I'd better call Building Control and have a chat with them. I don't like the idea of 1st floor fire doors TBH, we have nice 1930s ones at the moment.

I'll have it to give it a lot more thought and chat to the local authority, but it sounds like we might be best off calling it storage and sticking with the pull down ladder idea. There doesn't seem to be much point installing a space saving staircase (thus compromising one of the bedrooms) if we might not be able to satisfy the other conditions for the room to officially qualify as a bedroom.

MissHonkover Mon 06-Jun-11 15:32:00

Just spoken to local building control. They do allow original doors (but with closers fitted to them), but won't allow a space saver staircase.

If we go down the route of just a Velux and pull-down ladder we don't need to involve building control but the room then can't be anything but storage.

Obviously I really need someone to give us a bigger house. grin Perhaps a posh shed in the garden is the way to go...

ChitChattingagain Mon 06-Jun-11 15:33:37

How about a spiral staircase? Would you be able to fit that in?

MissHonkover Mon 06-Jun-11 15:47:49

Not without taking space from either of the bedrooms, which are pretty small already.

noddyholder Mon 06-Jun-11 16:21:17

You don't need to inform anyone though if it is just extra space When you come to sell the agents can just omit it from the details and call it a hobby/storage space.

conculainey Tue 07-Jun-11 13:56:18

Op, be careful when installing a velox window as the window in itself may increase you council tax/rates, The regs may vary from one part of the country to the other though. When I was installing my Velox window my rates would have increased if I installed it at the front of the house but the rates remained the same if it was installed at the rear of the house. Just be careful in anything you do as building control will make you take any unauthorised work out again or if the work is up to standards you may apply for retrospective planning permission which may or may nor be granted.

MissHonkover Tue 07-Jun-11 14:42:59

Thanks. It would definitely go at the back, no houses in our row of terraces have velux windows at the front, but one house has one at the back.
Minefield, isn't it?

PigletJohn Tue 07-Jun-11 14:47:43

It's worth remembering that if you have a half-arsed conversion that doesn't have building regs approval, it will cost more to pull it out and have it done properly, than if it had been done properly in the first place. For this reason it will lower the value of your home.

A fixed staircase or plastered walls are indicators that it is a conversion, not a storage area. BTW sleeping in a bad conversion will be very dangerous in the event of a fire, since the smoke will rise upwards, and there may be no way to escape in time. People grumble about the fire precautions sad

MissHonkover Tue 07-Jun-11 15:09:01

Thanks Piglet. I was calling it 'half arsed' because I don't think we have the space (or possibly the finances, although I've still to get quotes) to do a full conversion with fixed stairs etc.

Good point re the value of the home. I was thinking originally that we would have a pull down ladder, a window, carpet, lighting and plastering, but we'd only use the room during the day as a study/office with minimal furniture. If we sell I know that the room can't be classed as anything but storage if we convert it this way.

The posters on here though, and my chat with building control, have slightly put the willies up me regarding the weight limit for the exisiting joists. I'll have to get a builder in for a chat, but no, we definitely won't be using the room as a bedroom unless we get a full conversion approved by building control.

conculainey Tue 07-Jun-11 17:32:23

You would really need to get a builder in for a look and then get drawnings done up and sent on in the form of a building application, building control will call to inspect the work at various times if the conversion is approved and sign the work of as approved. TBH an extension will add much greater value to your property if it can be done and would certainly be a lot less hassle as far as building regs go, have a look to see what your neighbours have done and perhaps speak to them as regards costs.

MissHonkover Tue 07-Jun-11 17:44:31

conculainey, we won't need to send stuff off to building control if we just decide to floor it out and stick in a window and lighting, will we? I thought that was just if the room was going to be inhabited, rather than just storage.

In terms of a ground floor extension, that's interesting. I thought an extra bedroom added more value (not that that's likely given our problems with fitting in a fixed staircase as detailed above). None of our neighbours have extensions (except us, whose kitchen is the full width of the house, not half). I think it'd be tricky because immediately outside our back door are steps down to a lower level. I also thought extensions were really expensive. I'm on a learning curve here!

conculainey Tue 07-Jun-11 17:52:40

you could just simply floor the area as storage and get a basic light installed without building contol approval but first of all check out the size of your ceiling joists (timbers) as some older houses only had 3"x 1.5" timbers which are not suitable in any way for any kind of load bearing even for storage. any kind of attic conversion usually means that the floor timbers need to be installed from new and they must either rest on the existing walls or on newly installed steel beams (expensive). This has the added disadvantage in that your floor level will be increased a lot which greatly reduces your head height. Measure the size of your ceiling timbers including the approx length and post details here, also are your upstairs walls solid walls or are they hollow(stud) walls?

ChitChattingagain Tue 07-Jun-11 17:53:41

Have you considered a staircase from near your kitchen extension? No law that says stairs up to the loft have to extend up from the existing staircase! It would make the loft conversion a completely separate area, which has both plus and minus points!!!

MissHonkover Tue 07-Jun-11 19:20:00

ChitChattingagain, I'm confused! That would mean the stairs would be outside the house, surely? (Our ground floor is bigger than our first floor, IYSWIM)

conculainey, the first floor walls are stud. When you say the joists may not be suitable for load bearing of any kind, there's already two water tanks and years worth of accumulated shit heirlooms. Surely everyone has that sort of thing in their loft?

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