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Room in Attic - DIY?

13 replies

jofeb04 · 31/05/2009 16:08


We are end terrace and attic is ours (ie-not one long one) and have three bedrooms. All the rooms are being used, and we are thinking of having the attic changed into a room. There are already floorboards down.
The room will be more of an office/adult area so not a bedroom or a room which anyone will be in too long (more an area to work when everyone is here!).

But, we can't afford to do it properly (such as stairs). We can do all the electric ourselves. Don't particually need a window.

Is this possible?

OP posts:
mrsmaidamess · 31/05/2009 16:11

Yes it is possible but it can't be classed as a room. A friend did it with a pull down ladder (it was a dark room , he was a photographer)

jofeb04 · 31/05/2009 16:13

We were thinking of a ladder of some sort.

Thanks for that

(May finally have a space I can work without having the dc asking to go on the cebebees (sp?) website!).

OP posts:
noddyholder · 31/05/2009 16:15

Yes you can but it will be very dark and it is noth that expensive to put in a velux window.Maybe you could do it in bits and add to it over the years

pavlovthecat · 31/05/2009 16:18

As soon as you use it for any purpose other than storage it becomes a livable space, then it is subject to building regs, which are quite strict.

We are about to have ours converted, work starts tomorrow and we asked the same questions, can we get around building regs and if so how. We found out, no you can't, for the following reasons:

If you have a fire, you will not be insured if your loft is used but does not meet building regs. If the roof collapses due to lack of support, you will not be insured if it is because of the loft. Etc.

You need to inform neighbours both sides of work if it involves touching the party walls, as they are jointly owned. If you are not following building regs they can object. Work that is not done according to building regs/with correct planning permissions/authority will not be covered in event of accident/damage to party walls so you will be liable for cost.

It will decrease the value of your property if not done correctly. When you come to sell, you will have problems if you cannot evidence the work has been done to building regs. Prospective buyers can now insist you take an indemnity out on the work done (or something) to protect them if something goes wrong.

If some-one complains and building control come around to check it out, they can insist that you either finish it, to building regs standard, or undo everything that has already been done.

You need for building regs to be met:
fire doors throughout your house (although that might just be for a flat as in our case)
Fire door at either the top of the stairs, or the bottom (not allowed open plan unless you are creative and that is expensive).
Integrated mains powered smoke alarms linked to kitchen on all floors.
Insulation and soundproofing requirements are stricter now.
You need at least one vented window (skylight is ok).
Stairs need to have specific head clearance on landing below, and treads on the stairs need to be a specific width.
Floor needs to be re-enforced to take the additional load bearing weight of regular use/heavy objects - usually involves steels, but not always.
Lighting and other electrics have to be part p certified.

Its a tall expensive job.

You can get a Haines Manual if you want more detail about DIY lofts. Very useful for tips on insulation etc if you are going to it yourself.

pavlovthecat · 31/05/2009 16:21

Noddy has a point about taking your time. Building control advised us that once we had permission to start work (on a building notice application, where you dont need to evidence the work being done beforehand, but as you go along), we could take years to finish if we liked, there was no deadline, but no certificate until we finished.

So you could in theory, do one big job at a time, and have it as an ongoing project, which you could finish if and when you came to sell. This way you would be covered by insurance if anything went wrong. We have to have an indemnity when we start work which states that theft is only covered if through forced entry, ie not through access via scaffolding and roof, or builders and employees, door being left open etc. But it means if something happens while being done, insurance is still valid.

jofeb04 · 31/05/2009 16:35

Thanks for that Pavlov. Didn't know about the insurance issue. Just to double check. If there was, say, an electrical fire in the loft, we would not be insured as it is no longer a storage space?

OP posts:
pavlovthecat · 31/05/2009 16:45

Exactly right. The reason for it is that without a properly installed staircase, insulation, flooring, doors etc, the fire can spread easily. The requirements mean that the loft if fire resistant from the outside, or that the hall is fire resistant from the outside for 30 mins at least. And the alarm will sound wherever there is a fire and everywhere else in the house to alert all in plenty of time.

I am sure the fire doors regs apply to all new loft conversions, but might not. It means there is a 30 min fire corridor which will provide your means of escape. Especially as you will have further to travel to your means of escape.

pavlovthecat · 31/05/2009 16:46

that should have read resistant from the outside, or that the hall is fire resistant from the loft for 30 mins at least>

lalalonglegs · 31/05/2009 18:16

Not only very dark but potentially very cold unless it has been well insulated (I think minimum requirement is 250mm) both on floor (normal to keep rest of house warm) plus under eaves (not normal unless it is being converted).

jofeb04 · 31/05/2009 18:54

It is already insulated!

Given us lots to think of, especially with regards to the insurance.


OP posts:
LyraSilvertongue · 31/05/2009 19:06

You won't have to change your doors to fire doors throughout as long as the existing ones are of a certain thickness. Not sure exactly what that thickness is but you can google it.

pavlovthecat · 31/05/2009 19:56

rules around fire safety changed in Oct 2008, and the fire doors have to not just be a certain thickness, but have an additional casing around them/be hinged in a certain manner. This website is good at explaining all the changes you may have to make, and why. From there you should be able to determine what you need to get done professionally, what you can do yourself and where you might be able to 'cut corners' without compromising your safety.

You can also phone your local building control for advice, anonymous so they won't log it for future reference, they will ask for the area/street you live in, as they will then be able to use their area knowledge to know what type of loft you have, and whether beams/planning permission might be needed.

If you then decide to do it not following building regs, you will udnerstand the full implications and what they mean to you, rather than be stung by something you did not foresee.

pavlovthecat · 31/05/2009 19:59

lalalonglegs - yes it is about this, i think it is 240mm - 150mm of insulation, plus a 50mm gap for air to circulate between the ceiling/floor/wall behind the insulation. Insulation also has to meet fire regs.

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