Loft Conversion: Should I Self-Build?
After a very different year than any of us expected, and with more available time to watch vast amounts of youtube videos you might be considering a very adventurous challenge to design and build your own loft room. You've gained the skills from Youtube so why not. Loft Conversions can be technically challenging projects which should only be attempted by people with significant experience in building/construction.
If you do decide to build a loft conversion yourself, there are a lot of things to consider once you start construction, such as:
- Scaffolding and access
- Temporary weather protection
- Temporary structural support
- Structural roof timbers
Whilst you might not be demolishing your roof entirely, there will almost always be material to be removed from the roof structure to create the additional living space. Any material removed is considered to be waste, which needs to be disposed of correctly, usually via a skip, provided by a licensed waste carrier.
If you don't have space for a skip on your land you may have to acquire/pay for a separate license for a permit to put it in the road.
Anything you remove from your roof also needs to find its' way into the skip safely. That means you can't throw things off the roof into a skip at street level, you need to have a chute or other safe means of getting the waste into the skip.
Throwing things from a high level into a skip is known as 'bombing' and is severely frowned upon by local authority building control and the Health and Safety executive, both of whom can shut down your project if they catch you doing it.
Scaffolding and Access
You will need scaffolding of some description to access the outside of your roof safely.
There are proprietary scaffolding kits available to buy or hire which don't need specialist training to erect, but they tend to limited to set lengths and heights.
If you feel you need a traditional tube and fit scaffolding, get a professional scaffolding company to erect it.
Temporary Weather Protection
Weather Protection of some description will be required during your loft conversion to prevent the elements damaging your property. If the roof will be open for long period, it may be prudent to have a scaffold which spans over the top of the house and completely envelopes the roof.
Temporary Structural Support
Forming the living space in your loft conversion will usually require removal or modification of the rafters, which are holding your roof up. Depending on how the roof is constructed, you may need to support the roof or beams within it temporarily while the work is carried out.
You should seek the advice of a structural engineer before cutting or otherwise modifying any structural beams / rafters within your loft.
Structural Roof Timbers
As mentioned above, the timbers within your roof are structural, not decorative.
Timber used for structural purposes will have been designed to do a certain job and will have been specified as needing to be a certain thickness and strength. These timbers should be 'stress graded' because a sample of each batch of timber will be tested to prove its strength.
Stress graded timber is more expensive than regular timber because it usually comes from stronger trees and the testing process wastes some timber as well as having a cost itself. The price of timber generally has risen steeply over the last few years, so prepare to spend big on timber.
The staircase into you loft conversion can be problematic for several reasons:
- Requires great skill and precision to build
- Both a structural and decorative item
- Construction can bring disruption into the house
Staircases can be tricky to build and will bring disruption into your everyday living space while they are being built. In many properties the staircase has to go above an existing landing and stairs, which can make access to it problematic.
None of these problems are show-stoppers, but they do need planning for and managing.
We offer a complete service of design and build from start to finish for your loft conversion, we are the experts in our field, and we manage everything so you can relax and look forward to your new living space.