Jump to content


ebuild is sad to announce its closure - it has become too time and resource intensive to develop, manage and maintain.

However, ebuild will remain on-line in archive mode (ie no posting facilties) for several weeks so that users can use it as an information resource.

Posh Loft Upgrade


  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

#1 joshb

joshb

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 26 March 2016 - 11:59 AM

I’ve been searching and scratching my head for a few days now, so with my thinking time starting to really run out its time to ask the internet.

I have been given the opportunity to buy the house I’ve lived in for 5 years which is currently owned by the mother in-law. We are at the early stages of getting the mortgage as I have only just submitted the accounts for my company to satisfy the affordability checks etc.

Circumstances on the in-laws side are meaning we get the house sold asap and her some money to find another place. On top of this we have a baby due in July hence me feeling the pinch of time constraints.

So the loft part……. Basically I have a man cave in the box room on the first floor with some DJ gear in it, which needs to be vacated to make room for new baby. In the house is also a half cocked attic conversion/posh loft that looks like it’s from the 60s. It has a good-sized velux window, boarded out with fiberboard stuff with thin Rockwool between the rafters. The floor has been beefed up with 200m joists sistered over the load-baring wall and also has some cupboards built into the eaves. It has a few plug sockets and weirdly a small hand basin. it is accessed via pull down ladder making it no more than a loft with a window. Its actually a very nice space with good potential so would make a great storage room and somewhere I could escape to to play a few tunes and escape the house downstairs as well as much needed storage. first two pics so you get the idea of the space:Attached File  image1.JPG   29.36K   3 downloadsAttached File  image3.JPG   31.99K   3 downloads

My first thought was to go down the full loft conversion route all signed off to create an extra bedroom for the house, with the view of any money I put into it as an investment. I had planned to use the old airing cupboard in the first floor hallway put a space saver stair case in, causing minimal disruption to the rest of the house. Anyway I had a local designer/surveyor round who is very familiar with local building regs to run my ideas past him. He said that the velux was too high to be considered an escape window and I would need a landing at the bottom of the spacesaver that was not the hallway, basically taking up most of the cupboard and then some of the bedroom behind it. He said he would ask building control about it but didn’t seem confident in my ideas. His various “workarounds” started to take up more money and time than I could afford so I have now started to think about using the loft in the same capacity as it currently is, as a 'posh loft' accessed by a pull down ladder to not confuse its use as a habitable room. The surveyor did say the floor should be fine for any uses as it is, obviously not considering the fact there are no calcs etc. But he did say its stood fine for the past 50 years or so with no signs of any issues on the roof or ceiling below.

So what I would like to do is basically tart up what’s already up there, firstly by re-insulating the rafters and plaster boarding. As the room has potential for full conversion at some point I would like to insulate to current spec to make sure it wouldn't need to be done again in a few years if we do go down that route and/or cause issues if and when we come to sell on.

I have been doing my head in looking at these u value calculators that always seem to suggest the most expensive products in the suppliers range. So my first question would be can anyone tell me what thickness of insulation I would need for 100mm rafters at 400 centers with an old felt bitumen sarking? I understand ill have to leave a 50mm air gap between the tiles and have a layer inbetween as well as underneath the rafters to get enough celotex or similar to comply. I want to minimise costs as much as possible and will be looking at buying it through seconds companies such as seconds and co. Can any of you kind people able to make a suggestion on spec to achieve correct u value? Also can I re-use the rockwool that is in the rafters to place in the floor joists for added noise reduction between rooms or am I better of chucking and buying new? Also any suggestions for good value acoustic insulation for floors?

Will re-insulationg the property have to involve a building control/regs sign off? Also is it likely to cause problems when the mortgage company come round to look at the property for their survey/valuation if it has recently been re-done or worse is in the middle of being done? The last survey that was done when the mother in-law bought the place did briefly mention the loft space, simply stating there was a window, the fact it was boarded out and the floor being beefed up giving an opinion it appears to be suitable for storage. It also commented on the fact the structure of the room, perlins etc were hidden from view. Since then I have done some exploring and removed a few panels to see what I am working with. Perling and supports can be seen in places, is that likely to be a good thin gor is it better hidden? I've added a pic of the perlin and hole in the wall as it is. Attached File  image5.JPG   22.82K   5 downloads

I would also like some advice on the repositioning of the attic hatch from the hallway ceiling where it currently is, into the cupboard to make it less disruptive. This would of course involve cutting one of the joists out and bracing it. When I took up some floor I noticed that the hatch I use in the hall way currently wasn’t the first one that was installed. There was another smaller hatch fitted along the same joist as the current one. Hopefully you can see where the current two and proposed new one sit. A few of my friends are chippys and have said its fine, they would just double up 2x8s the bracing on the new hatch and said if we wanted to be extra cautious use 2x8 to infill some supports in the direction of the joists in the exiting hatches but both said that this wasn’t really necessary. Do you think I should get some calcs done on this to be sure, add new timbers as the caustious option or just add the new hatch as the chippys had suggested? i have attached a photo with the floor up to see where the two current hatches are, and the cupboard of where the new one will be. Attached File  image4.JPG   40.2K   6 downloads

Sorry for the huge thread, I hope you managed to stay awake while reading it. Thanks in advance for any help and feel free to add in anything I may need to know and have not mentioned.

Josh

Attached Files



#2 tonyshouse

tonyshouse

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1,297 posts
  • LocationThames Valley

Posted 26 March 2016 - 12:04 PM

Is this in the UK? The whole thing looks very illegal to me and you could even collect a fine!

Full loft conversion with building regs.

#3 joshb

joshb

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 26 March 2016 - 12:11 PM

Is indeed in the UK. It was like it when we moved into the house and as mentioned full loft conversion with regs is just not possible with the time and money available right now. not to say i wont in future but I'm most concerned about re-insulation and using as storage of music gear. Do i need building regs sign off to re-insulate? Should it be done before or after the mortgage application/survey? and any help with celotex or similar specs would be great....

Illegal in what way? i know it doesnt have sign off as a habitable room and is only accessed via a loft ladder. In what circumstances would I collect a fine as you say? Is the mortgage company surveyor likely to mention it to local council? please give more info. thanks

Edited by joshb, 26 March 2016 - 12:23 PM.


#4 jsharris

jsharris

    Please ignore all posts by me, some are erroneous

  • Member Blogger
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 11,461 posts
  • LocationWiltshire/Dorset border

Posted 26 March 2016 - 12:29 PM

The legality depends to some extent on when the work was done and what regs applied at that time. As Tony says, it's non-compliant with regs as it stands, and most probably never has been compliant with regs, as things like fire escape window heights haven't changed in decades, as far as I can remember. Much of the work looks a bit DIY, so questions could be asked about things like the wiring. If the wiring is pre-17th Ed and Part P (easy to tell from the colour codes - unified colours means post Part P and definitely non-compliant).

Your immediate problem is what the lenders surveyor says about it. I think I'd hide as much as possible and fill the room with junk, so it's just a storage room, then have a better think about it once you've got the mortgage!

#5 Alphonsox

Alphonsox

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1,495 posts
  • LocationCounty Down, NI and Forest of Dean, England

Posted 26 March 2016 - 12:58 PM

We have something similar - a semi/badly converted loft conversion done by the previous owner around 1983. Access is via a full staircase from the first floor and it is currently unheated. It was described as a storage area when we purchased in 2000 and has been used as such ever since. I have considered bring it up to full regs in the past but the cost would seem to be prohibitive.

#6 joshb

joshb

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 26 March 2016 - 01:22 PM

I can only assume with the materials used (lack of plasterboard) and general gaudy style that's it's 60s or 70s but so far I've not found any record. I've asked the council for all info on house before I buy it just as a matter of due diligence . The sockets are standard double sockets so may have been done after the 60s conversion. Some wiring would need to be moved for the new access hatch and I have a sparky friend that owes me a favour and will be fitting spots in the bathroom below, so I will see about bringing all wiring up to current regs.

#7 jsharris

jsharris

    Please ignore all posts by me, some are erroneous

  • Member Blogger
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 11,461 posts
  • LocationWiltshire/Dorset border

Posted 26 March 2016 - 01:44 PM

If you do a proper conversion it'll need build regs sign off anyway, and that'll have the added advantages of making the room "legal" and probably increasing the value of the house a bit too, so well worth thinking about. It'll need the insulation level being brought up to at least the current regs requirements (I'd try and exceed them by as much as you can afford, as our building regs insulation requirements are the worst in Europe!). The wiring probably need nothing more than a bit of checking and tidying up, unless there are some lurking nasties from previous DIY efforts. The window can probably be made legal by adding a step on the floor under it, so is no great problem. The challenge will be locating the access, but you can use a space saver stair and the requirements for things like headroom can be relaxed a bit for loft conversions, IIRC.

#8 joshb

joshb

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 26 March 2016 - 02:48 PM

That was the original plan but the stairs, space savers or not, would mean loosing either a huge chunk of either one of the bedrooms or loose the box room entirely to a large hallway with a desk or (office room if youre an estate agent). This is a consideration for the future but I just can't bare the brunt of the cost of the distruption to the rest of the house right now. The window step was a suggestion of the designer the came to visit.

With the view of me or future owners going the whole hog on the conversion, as well as general safety and efficiency, I would like to make sure any alterterations now wouldn't need to be undone. The insulation of course would pay its dues overtime anyway.

So with the insulation specs, I understand a u-value of 0.18 is needed. Does anyone know how best to achieve that with 100mm rafters at 400 centres without using the most expensive products celotex stock. Some people have said at least 120mm some 145mm would do the job.

My thoughts are increase rafters by 25mm, put 75mm in between to allow for air gap and 50mm or 75mm on top of rafters laid perpendicular. Sound ok? How the hell would I work out the u value of that?



#9 ProDave

ProDave

    Self build in the Highlands

  • Moderators
  • 5,960 posts
  • LocationScottish Highlands

Posted 26 March 2016 - 03:50 PM

As I understand it, to continue using it as a posh loft, accessed by a loft ladder you don't need building regs. As long as you are not actually using it as a bedroom then I see no problem with it remaining much as it is. It won't add value to the house and you can't describe it as a bedroom. I don;t think builduing control are likely to take any enforcement action over something that was done 50 years ago.

You can get some very nice wooden loft ladders with handrails. Enlarge the loft hatch a bit to allow one to be used at a relatively shallow angle without you bumping your head on it, and leave the ladder down most of the time. Obviously to do that you would want to organise it so the place the ladder landed would not be in the way if left down a lot of the time.

It's probably only worth doing all the work, if you actually want to use it as a bedroom.

Edited by ProDave, 26 March 2016 - 03:51 PM.


#10 joshb

joshb

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 26 March 2016 - 04:48 PM

That's what I had gathered, If the access is via ladder they are not really bothered until it is considered habitable which would include a fixed stair. In truth it will be used occasionally as music room but for the purposes of any authority it's warm storage room.

The insulation though seems to fall under a restoration if I take off the existing boarding and replace anything existing. Would bc be wanting to know about any insulation work? Would new insulation come up in a survey when I come to sell?

Edited by joshb, 26 March 2016 - 05:34 PM.


#11 tony51

tony51

    Regular Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 774 posts

Posted 26 March 2016 - 08:56 PM

Your interpretation of the Building Regs is incorrect, and

View Posttonyshouse, on 26 March 2016 - 12:04 PM, said:

Is this in the UK? The whole thing looks very illegal to me and you could even collect a fine!

Full loft conversion with building regs.

He would never be fined for that, even if the council found out about it.

Edited by tony51, 26 March 2016 - 08:57 PM.


#12 tony51

tony51

    Regular Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 774 posts

Posted 26 March 2016 - 09:06 PM

View Postjoshb, on 26 March 2016 - 04:48 PM, said:

That's what I had gathered, If the access is via ladder they are not really bothered until it is considered habitable which would include a fixed stair. In truth it will be used occasionally as music room but for the purposes of any authority it's warm storage room.

The insulation though seems to fall under a restoration if I take off the existing boarding and replace anything existing. Would bc be wanting to know about any insulation work? Would new insulation come up in a survey when I come to sell?

You need to be careful here.
If you go to the trouble of insulating, re-wiring, sorting out the window etc, you are moving away from the space as 'loft storage', and towards it becoming a habitable room. In that case, it would need a fixed staircase (not a pull-down) and
the regs do not allow for that situation. It matters not what you personally want to use the space for - to the Building Control people, it would be a habitable room with a pull-down ladder, which is unlawful.
You would not get a Certificate from the council (on account of no proper staircase) so despite all the improvements, it could never be sold as an extra bedroom.
It may also invalidate your house insurance because of the increased risk to life.
Either leave it as it is, or do the job properly to Regs.

Edited by tony51, 26 March 2016 - 09:06 PM.


#13 joshb

joshb

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 26 March 2016 - 09:28 PM

In essence i am going to leave as it for now, except for re-insulating and moving the hatch, the window won't be touched. The Wiring would be looked and corrected if necessary when the spot lights and some other electric work throughout the house are done. I realise it won't be signed off as a habitable room without a fixed staircase, which isn't what I'm looking to do right now. I do however want to make provisions to be able to go down the full conversion route at a later date, without being undoing anything i do now. Insulation being one.

With regards to regs and insulation, can anyone tell me if that needs to be signed off if its a refurbishment job? Or does the insulation regs only apply to new builds?

Edited by joshb, 26 March 2016 - 09:29 PM.


#14 tony51

tony51

    Regular Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 774 posts

Posted 26 March 2016 - 09:49 PM

If you take the existing plasterboard off the ceiling and dwarf walls to apply new insulation, that would require a Building Regs application.

#15 joshb

joshb

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 27 March 2016 - 07:17 AM

Ok this was what was worried about. If i do invite them round to have a look at the insulation to sign it off, I'm worried they will want to poke around and potentially make me change things that have stood for years like the velux etc or possibly question the use of the room and make me undo everything and lay insulation in the floor leaving me with a cold roof space and not suitable for what i need it for. Has anyone head of this happening?

What are peoples thoughts on insulting rafters to current regs and not declaring it?

I think its safe to say now i won't be touching it until the lenders survey has been done.

#16 tony51

tony51

    Regular Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 774 posts

Posted 27 March 2016 - 08:25 AM

If a building inspector visits a site to check on a certain aspect of the regulations (eg retro-fitting insulation), he/she cannot 'poke around' looking at any other possible contraventions of the regs. The time limit for a council taking any enforcement action for alleged contraventions is 12 months (Building Act 1984 s.36). As they won't know when your loft was modified, they can't take action - it's as simple as that.

(Be aware, though, that some inspectors enjoy throwing their weight around and will threaten all sorts of dire consequences, on the assumption that lay people don't know the rules - but don't fall for it! There is no regulation which prohibits insulation of a storage loft - as long as the insulation is done correctly and does not cause condensation issues.).

But on a more general note; there is really little point in making a Building Regs application for fitting insulation for a possible loft conversion at some future date. The insulation regs may have changed by the time you decide to do a proper job, in which case your efforts now may be wasted. Just tidy the place up, use it as you want now (but bear in mind fire risk) and consider a proper conversion when you are in a position to do one.

#17 joshb

joshb

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 27 March 2016 - 09:25 AM

Thanks tony, good info there mate. Appreciate it. That's made things a bit clearer for me.

It's so hot in the summer up there and freezing cold in the winter that in going to have to do something if I want to store anything delicate, electric or of any value. My vinyl collection certainly won't appreciate the oven like temps up there coming summer.

I see what your saying about going to regs with no current sign off being pointless, so I think I'll just go for 100mm I between extended rafters and boarded. Anything is going to be better than fibreboard and old black rockwool. Question now is, do this now to get the rest of the house in order for the ever looming due date of the new family member, or wait until the surveyor for the mortgage company comes?

#18 declan52

declan52

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3,087 posts
  • LocationCo. armagh

Posted 27 March 2016 - 09:42 AM

Its the lack of insulation in the roof is whats making it like a greenhouse in the summer and a cold store in the winter. Fix this and it will be fine.
What ever way you go just remember that you will have to make the access suitable to get materials up into the attic. Half sheets of plasterboard will be your new best friend when you start.
As to doing it now or later as you will have to rip out the old plasterboard and rockwool it will be as dirty and dusty as it could get and all this has to go down through the house and out to a skip. I would do it before the arrival as once that happens you will have to be quiet as either mum,dad or baby will be sleeping and esp mum and dad will murder whoever wakes the baby up.