Loft Conversion FAQ - questions about loft conversions in Chiswick

Frequently Asked Questions about loft conversions in London & Chiswick


Please find below several questions that we at Ash Island Lofts are often asked regarding loft conversions when working in the London area. If you have a question that is not here please contact us as we are always happy to help!


FAQ CONTENTS:

  1. Does my loft have enough headroom to be converted?
  2. Is Planning Permission needed for my loft conversion?
  3. Where will the new stairs go?
  4. Will a loft conversion really add value to our property?
  5. How can I save money on my loft conversion?
  6. How do we ensure Building Regulations are achieved?
  7. What guarantees do Ash Island Lofts give?
  8. Why do I need a professional loft conversion company?
  9. I have a water tank in the way – what can I do?
  10. How long will you take to convert my loft?
  11. I want a Dormer loft conversion – how is this done?
  12. I want a Velux Conversion – how is this done?
  13. Do I need steel beams?
  14. Do I need fire doors?
  15. My stairs at ground floor level enter into an open-plan arrangement – what happens here?
  16. Will I need smoke detectors?
  17. Do I need to upgrade the ceiling under the new loft rooms?

1. DOES MY LOFT HAVE ENOUGH HEADROOM TO BE CONVERTED?

Most lofts can be converted but what is crucial is that there is enough achievable headroom. Ideally you need a minimum of 2.3m (7 feet 6 inches) to start with from the existing ceiling joists to the apex of the loft.

Therefore, once the new loft floor (about 200mm or 8 inches) and ceiling (about 100mm or 4 inches) is in place in the loft conversion you will be left with a ceiling height of about 2m (6 feet 6 inches).

Take look at the closest door to you – the opening (if standard) is likely to be 1.981mm in height which is just a touch under 2m. With this in mind we hope you agree with that if can not achieve at least 2m then converting your loft simply isn't worth it!


2. IS PLANNING PERMISSION NEEDED FOR MY LOFT CONVERSION?

Under new regulations that came into effect from 1 October 2008 a loft conversion for your house is likely to be considered permitted development which will not require the hassle and the cost of Planning Permission. This is subject certain limits and conditions – please see the Planning Portal website for details.


3. WHERE WILL THE NEW STAIRS GO?

Regulations stipulate fixed stairs must be put in to give safe access to and from the new room. The regulations cover things like staircase steepness (max pitch 42 degrees), headroom (min. 1.9m), step sizes and rails.

Ash Island Lofts' stairs are always fully compliant with Building Regulations and depending on exact requirements it often makes sense to place the new stairs over the existing stairs if possible. In doing so you must achieve at least 1.9m of clear headroom over the existing stairs to satisfy Building Regulations.

If this is not possible then we can normally always find another way – sometimes by taking away a slice of another room. Although this isn't ideal it is normally considered the sensible compromise in order to achieve a loft conversion.

Please note – we are not fans of spiral or alternate tread stairs!


4. WILL A LOFT CONVERSION REALLY ADD VALUE TO MY PROPERTY?

Yes, here at Ash Island Lofts we firmly believe that a loft conversion will add value to your property... but we would say that wouldn't we!

Read what the Guardian say about loft conversions: Home Improvements article.

Here's what C4 has to say on the subject: Guide to loft conversions.


5. HOW CAN I SAVE MONEY ON MY LOFT CONVERSION?

When you chose Ash Island Lofts we offer loft conversions from design through to completion – this includes planning, building regulations, structure, stairs, velux widows, dormer windows, insulation, plastering, heating, plumbing, bathroom fitting, electrical work (Part P) and woodwork etc.

However, if you would prefer to do (or manage) some of the '2nd fix' elements yourself then we can tailor a package to suit your needs. Call us on 0800 061 2543 to discuss your requirements.


6. HOW DO WE ENSURE BUILDING REGULATIONS ARE ACHIEVED?

It is possible to carry out a loft conversion under what is known as Building Notice but this is not advisable. As a professional loft conversion company we don't like to 'wing it' so we carry out a full plans submission to the Local Authority before works commence.

This means that the Local Authority pre agree the technical specifications of the loft conversion and they carry out site inspections when the work is in progress to ensure every detail fully meets with Building Regulations.


7. WHAT GUARANTEES DO ASH ISLAND LOFTS GIVE?

We give a 10 year guarantee for the main structural elements of the loft conversion.

This guarantee is insurance backed by a company called the Consumer Protection Association.


8. WHY DO I NEED A PROFESSIONAL LOFT CONVERSION COMPANY?

Anyone can do a loft conversion IF they know what they are up to... and if they don't then the loft conversion project could cost you thousands to put right rather than save you pounds.

If you are thinking of doing the loft conversion yourself then good luck – we are professionals and we often take up to 6 weeks to complete our conversions. This is all day everyday Mon-Fri so how long do you think it will take you when maybe you can only spare evenings and weekends?

Ash Island Lofts are a professional loft conversion company and take away the pains associated with carrying out a loft conversion yourself so call us today on 0800 078 7535.


9. I HAVE A HOT WATER TANK IN THE WAY - WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Water tanks can be moved into the eaves of the loft out of the way and you can chose to find a local plumber and pay them for 1 days labour plus materials. Alternatively, a pressurised boiler such as a 'combi' does away with the need for water tanks in the loft so you may chose to get a quote for this from a local Gas Safe engineer.

If you don't want the hassle, tell us and we will arrange for our people to carry out the works.


10. HOW LONG WILL YOU TAKE TO CONVERT MY LOFT?

Every loft is different but generally an approximate guide for a velux conversion is 4-5 weeks and about 6 weeks for a dormer conversion.

We can advise accordingly at the time of first survey once we have seen your loft.


11. I WANT A DORMER LOFT CONVERSION - HOW IS THIS DONE?

A dormer loft conversion comes in different forms – however most clients want either a 'full width rear dormer which goes right to the eaves or a smaller box dormer.

The cheeks of the dormer can be constructed out of masonry if you have a parapet fire dividing wall which extends above your roof. Or the checks can be constructed out of timber with vertically hung tiles or slates to match in with the rest of the roof.

The face for the dormer will have similar vertically hung tile/slates, have normal casement/sash windows and sometimes have French doors with Juliet Balcony.

The 'flat roof' will either be coated with rubber of fibreglass and will come with a 25 year guarantee as opposed to using traditional roofing felt.


12. I WANT A VELUX LOFT CONVERSION - HOW IS THIS DONE?

This is a personal choice and probably the aesthetics will be the deciding factor. In terms of technical differences, consider the following: -

This is carried out if the existing loft area is big enough to be converted without extending the roof. The only outward change of appearance is the introduction of velux windows which come in various styles and sizes.


13. DO I NEED STEEL BEAMS?

Most lofts need beams to hang the new floor from and to take the load of the roof. These are often steel but aluminium or timber solutions can be used. Whichever the method the Building Inspector will require evidence of the structural calculations to prove the conversion is sound.


14. DO I NEED FIRE DOORS?

If you have a standard two story property then the following fire doors will need to be in place:


15. MY STAIRS AT GROUND FLOOR LEVEL ENTER INTO AN OPEN-PLAN ARRANGEMENT - WHAT HAPPENS HERE?

If you have an open-plan layout, you must put in walls to separate your stairs from any rooms, and link them to an escape route to the outside. This is far from ideal in most cases but the rules and regulations about fire are there to save lives!

It used to be up until April 2007, all doors to habitable rooms off the stairwell should have self-closers. This is no longer required but care should be taken in keeping doors shut when possible to protect the escape route in the outbreak of a fire.


16. WILL I NEED SMOKE DETECTORS?

To comply with Building Regulations Ash Island Lofts electricians fit interlinked smoke detectors at each level:

These smoke alarms are mains hardwired and have standby battery backup power supply.


17. DO I NEED TO UPGRADE THE CEILING UNDER THE NEW LOFT ROOMS?

No, the new flooring above combined with insulation between will take care of regulations concerning sound, fire and thermal.

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