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Has anyone built a mezzanine in a loft?

(23 Posts)
Mezzanineobsessed Tue 31-Jan-17 23:02:47

Just that really. I have changed name for this as it could be outing.
Briefly, we have just bought a two bedroom top floor flat in a lovely village. It's a block of 4 flats but is ex council. I really love the views from the window and the space is enough for our family till we could have more money to move up the ladder. The area is quite convenient for my and DH's work and schools are outstanding/good.
However, I would love to have a bit more space for my hobbies junk. We cannot afford to move quickly. Even the leap to a two bed house would require us to nearly double our mortgage which we obviously can't so we are counting on our careers/wages for the move up and that means some time.
Has anyone ever
1. bought a loft in an ex council flat? what was your experience?
And/or
2. removed the ceiling to make a mezzanine (I have measured and we have above 1.8m height in the loft that's 24feet long so enough space hopefully).

We can't afford loft conversion obviously but what about mezzanine?
Ideally I would love to have a small play/reading area with velux windows (I suspect hat these will be the only ones allowed near us as I have seen LOADS in houses/banglows/flats round here by now but I have not seen any dormer at all).
Help me you wise lot!

Boulshired Tue 31-Jan-17 23:20:06

Who has responsibility for the roof? I previously owned an ex council flat and the roof maintenance was all flats responsibility so would not of been allowed roof windows or to weaken the structure in anyway.

Mezzanineobsessed Wed 01-Feb-17 12:50:48

I understand that your point about roof is valid. I did think of it. The flats of our block have private entrances. It's a one up and one down model and each pair has a roof that's not in continuity with the adjascent ones. We are one of the middle ones (4 pairs, 8 flats total).
what happens in terraced properties then? Their roofs are attached too and how does it affect a potential loft conversion? Council is the freeholder in my block and they have formed a kind of a management company to look after the repair work so you have to write to council basically if you have some kind of complaint. They also charge and extortionate amount for service charges that seem non existent. In fact neighbours have told us nothing has been done for the last five years basically despite them saying they would get some repair works (no details given either).
So I understand that the steps will be
1. Buying the loft from the council (I think they would probably ask somewhere between 5-15k)
2. Removing the ceiling
3. Installing the mezzanine

Altogether, I am not sure what would the cost of all of these steps.
Sorry if all of this sounds rather stupid. blush

Boulshired Wed 01-Feb-17 13:11:26

The loft space should not be a problem but how maintenance is shared. At the moment do you have an 1/8 responsibility for the four or 1/2 share of one. If you take liability for the roof above your head will you still have liabilities as well for your neighbours. Sorry I am probably not helping, I did rent a flat that had a lovely loft room that was entered from the main bedroom and was a walk in closet/ reading nook. More gallery still than mezzanine.

Mezzanineobsessed Wed 01-Feb-17 13:33:27

I think if I don't own the freehold (1/8 of it in any case), I won't be liable for the upkeep of the roof. Is that right?
Maintenance will still be the responsibility of the freeholder (in our case, council) and all we will be doing is getting planning permitted work done on the roof IYSWIM?
It looks confusing to be honest and that's why I posted here.

PragmaticWench Wed 01-Feb-17 13:37:39

When I owned a flat, the responsibility for the roof was split equally between all flats in the building as part of each leasehold. I think this is normal rather than it being the responsibility of the freehold.

Do you have a copy of your leasehold paperwork to check?

Mezzanineobsessed Wed 01-Feb-17 13:59:27

our lease clearly states that the freeholder is responsible for the structure of the building, roof, communal areas and so on. It's also clear that we don't own the loft above us though we can use it for storage as much as we like.
Is there anyone around who has converted the loft of a flat where they didn't own the roof but got the permission from the freeholder?
This is a very up and coming area and I really love the community so hoping to stay here till my kids finish primary at least. We don't care about no garden etc as the communal area has a very good and secure play area for kids (we have quite a few children around our block) and there are pretty country walks all around. Flat itself is very bright and I am sure that if I manage to remove the ceiling, put proper insulation in the loft area and install a mezzanine, it will look luxury.
Just want to know if it's practical in terms of money and paper work.

Mezzanineobsessed Wed 01-Feb-17 14:00:51

There are quite a few houses, flats and banglows around that have velux lofts. I have yet to see a dormer.

SoupDragon Wed 01-Feb-17 14:06:00

It's impossible to answer really as it can depend on what the roof supports are like. Some do not allow for easy conversion to a room, as I understand it.

Mezzanineobsessed Wed 01-Feb-17 14:08:36

I think that the roof structure is not that relevant if you install a mezzanine? It's basically installed on the floor that we live on. And this floor is built up to carry heavy loads already.
Is it better to go on and get a few quotes for this?

SillySongsWithLarry Wed 01-Feb-17 18:50:14

I've had a surveyor round recently because we are reconfiguring our first floor flat to create an extra room and we were told that we couldn't have any room space made in the roof space as the building would need steel beams in the ground floor and we don't have access to that space as it is downstairs flat. We are changing the floor plan to create an extra room. Could that be an option?

SoupDragon Wed 01-Feb-17 18:54:36

The roof structure is very relevant if you don't want rafters and joists etc all over your head space.

SoupDragon Wed 01-Feb-17 18:56:56

I think theyre called trusses rather than beams/joists,

BananaPie Wed 01-Feb-17 21:45:15

If you only have 1.8m now in the loft, you probably won't have enough head room. They'd have to put new floor joists in on your mezzanine level which would be thicker than the current ceiling joists.

PigletJohn Thu 02-Feb-17 00:50:49

The timbers that hold the ceiling up, and are like floor joists in the loft, form an important part of the triangulation of the roof. If you cut them (or if they are burned away in a fire) the two sloping timbers will travel downwards and outwards, and push the walls of your house over.

There are a few pics on the web where people's houses have collapsed from doing this.

It is possible to strengthen or reconstruct the roof using collar ties, but this will need an engineering design and will be expensive, and need major work.

Some of the trussed roof manufacturers could probably supply it as they have computer apps for designing roofs.

PigletJohn Thu 02-Feb-17 00:53:12

this sort of thing

metro.co.uk/2016/06/08/dramatic-pics-show-roof-of-house-660000-collapse-during-renovation-5932499/

PigletJohn Thu 02-Feb-17 00:55:49

and one in a fire

vincentdunn.com/dunn/newsletters/aug_sept2001/FDNYHP_15.html

Mezzanineobsessed Thu 02-Feb-17 12:59:41

Thank you so much for so many responses! So it looks generally undoable unless we strengthen the roof along with installing the mezzanine level. And will most probably need to strengthen the floor too through the steal beam in the ground floor flat.
That's a really scary video there pigletjohn.
Changing the floor plan is not an option unfortunately as it's already very well designed to use every bit of space.
Could opening up the ceiling to expose the inside of the roof (after doing proper insulation and decorating it) be an option? How about installing the velux windows on this? We won't touch any of the parts of the roof structure I suppose? And we won't install a mezzanine. We can move the loft entrance to keep some storage space over half of the apartment while exposing the rest?

PigletJohn Thu 02-Feb-17 13:24:21

if you take away the plasterboard but leave the timbers, the roof won't fall down, but you would be removing the fire barrier into the wooden roof. I don't know if Building Regulations apply.

Mezzanineobsessed Thu 02-Feb-17 13:30:36

Oh I didn't look at it that way shock
In fact, the exposed area will be the ones directly above kitchen and living. So how do the building regulations work in all these fancy pics?
Can we get an initial survey or something that could tell us how doable is this? Can we trust them (after watching that video! They must have duped the couple into thinking it would work?)

Boulshired Thu 02-Feb-17 13:37:37

The velux will alter the roof structure and the only answer on this is the one from the council. The windows lifespan will not be the same as the roof and liabilities may then be questioned and no longer covered in maintenance/ service charge.

ChickenLicken22 Thu 02-Feb-17 13:44:57

I second getting the opinion of a surveyor who should be able to point out the problems/ questions you need to think of. May cost upfront but could be worthwhile getting some professional advice and save yourself issues further down the line.

Maybe the RICS website would be a good start?

Mezzanineobsessed Thu 02-Feb-17 13:44:59

Ok so I have a good picture of all this now: way to our complicated. grin
Thank you so much for all of your time everyone.

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