We have provided loft conversions for our customers in North London for many years and are always asked the same questions. Below, we have compiled a comprehensive how to, designed to help you make that important loft conversion decision.
What should I do first?
Your first step will be to get us in for a quote (in fact get at least three quotes for your own peace of mind). It is always best to go with a company who specialise in North London loft conversions as they will have knowledge of your type of property. Your should use a company which provides a project manager who can take you through the entire process from design through planning and on to completion. Ensure your builder is a member of the Federation of Master Builders.
You could employ a local architect – particularly one who is familiar with the local council planning policy and they could find the builder for you. At M&D Properties – we have architects who we work with to provide you with advice right from the start of your project. Your architect to ensure your space is well used. Look on the Royal Institute of British Architects website for more details.
The architect will then provide you with drawings and designs for your approval. You will also receive a quote for their services and for those of your builder. These will be based on lengthy meetings to discuss you needs and your budget.
Check your architects drawings
You should check your architects drawings very carefully, ensuring that the space will meet all of your needs. You can send the drawings back for revisions as many times as you need until they are perfect. Think about:
- Does the layout offer everything you want?
- Does the plan make the best use of the space?
- Does the design fit in with the rest of the house?
- Are the windows in the right place or could they be bigger?
- Does the design fit with your furniture plans?
- Is the head height suitable for your needs?
- What about the hallways – could they be bigger?
- Is the staircase in the right place for your needs both in the conversion and downstairs?
- Could you use rooflights to provide more light for the stairwell?
- Is there enough storage and will it be enough for what you currently store in the loft?
Many loft conversions these days come under permitted development and therefore, do not need planning permission. However you should always check this before you start any work. M&D will be able to work through this process with you.
Your will need planning permission if your roofline will be extended, if the house has already been extended or if you live in a listed home or in a conservation area. Loft conversions above flats will usually need planning permission too.
Party wall agreements
If your home shares a wall with a neighbour, you will almost certainly need a party wall agreement – another thing M&D and our architects will be able to take care of for you. The steel joists used to support your new loft conversion will be inserted into your neighbours wall and there maybe additional soundproofing needed to protect them from noise from your new room. This means your neighbours wall could be affected.
Your neighbour may sign a waver – but it is essential they are made aware of the work and that a party wall surveyor is employed to check both walls. The neighbour may also employ their own surveyor and you will need to pay for that.
Party wall agreements are usually very straightforward and easy to obtain.
As your loft conversion is regarded as a change of use, this means that building regulations must be complied with. This means that the building control department of the North London council will need to check the site before the work starts and during the work. There is a legal duty for the builder to comply with building control and your loft conversion will not be signed off until all the paper work is completed.
The control officer will check that the room is properly supported, the roof work has been carried out properly and that the windows comply with energy efficiency ratings. Other things like correct fire escapes and staircases will also be checked.
Keep all of the relevant paperwork as it will be needed when the property is sold.
M&D will work hard to ensure that there will be the least amount of disruption to your home from the loft conversion – however there will be some. You should be prepared for the following:
- You should clear your loft of anything currently in there – either use a skip to dispose of it or store in another part of the house.
- M&D will arrange skips and scaffolding where required. Permits may also be required if the skip needs to be left in the street.
- Your build will include the following basic timeline: steel joists fitted, framework on interior, holes cut for windows, dormer built, interior walls, first fix, plasterboard and insulation, stair case built and finalised, plastering, second fix, interior fittings and decoration.
You can expect your loft conversion to take between four and eight weeks depending on the changes you are making. A dormer conversion will obviously take longer.