Consistently voted the number one home improvement project, loft conversions make a lot of sense. They use otherwise wasted space, create extra living accommodation and can boost your home's value by over 20% according to the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). Nevertheless, converting a loft into one or two new rooms can be complex. You could leave it to a builder - but can they really be trusted to get it 100% right? Or you could do it yourself - but where do you start?
You need expert advice and it comes in the new Haynes Loft Conversion Manual costing just £19.99 (RRP). Written in plain English by Ian Rock, an experienced chartered surveyor, this new manual guides you through the whole loft conversion process step-by-step. The Loft Conversion Manual is easy to read and features hundreds of colour photos showing real conversion projects in progress, backed up with useful colour illustrations.
Loft Conversion Manual starts with a series of essential questions that all aspiring loft converters need to ask. For example: 'is it practical?', 'will you get your money back?', and 'how much should you do yourself?'
Next, the author explores the key subject of how to design the best possible conversion for your property and steer your project through Planning, whilst ensuring it complies with the Building Regulations. Importantly, he offers advice to help you avoid 'cowboy' builders.
Loft Conversion Manual takes you through each stage of the conversion through to retention, snagging and the defects liability period. It is packed with practical advice both for those readers doing it themselves and those employing professionals. The information is presented in the straightforward style familiar to Haynes manuals - for cars, motorbikes, washing machines, babies and many other subjects. This style has resulted in worldwide sales of manuals exceeding a remarkable 150 million.
Spending £19.99 on the Loft Conversion Manual could save you thousands of pounds by ensuring your loft is professionally converted - and preventing the stress of building works unnecessarily intruding into your private life - Don't start work without it!
Other titles in the Haynes home improvement series include: the Home Extension Manual, the Garden Building Manual, Victorian House and the 1930s House Manual.
IAN ROCKS TIPS & TRAPS FOR LOFT CONVERTERS
- Always check whether you actually need planning permission, as it may not be required. Many loft conversions are classed as 'permitted development'.
- Unless you live in a detached house, by law you must comply with the Party Wall Act. This means having to formally notify your neighbours at least 2 months in advance of any works to the wall that separates you from them. Unless they agree, you may have to appoint a surveyor to draw up an agreement.
- When comparing quotes from loft conversion firms, be sure that you're actually comparing like with like. Different firms may or may not include things like decoration, supply of sanitary fittings, VAT and the fees for structural engineers' calculations, planning and building regulations applications. Make sure your contractor confirms that all their work will fully comply with planning and building regulations.
- The works should be programmed to minimise intrusion into family life. Ideally, access to the loft for all the major jobs should be external, via scaffolding, leaving the fitting of the new loft stairs as late as possible to reduce disturbance.
- Be aware that complying with new fire regulations usually means having to replace most of your existing internal doors throughout the house with new fire doors. If your main reception area is open-plan, you may be required to construct a partition wall to create a fire-resistant hallway.
- Be sure to obtain your Building Regulations completion certificate before making the final payment to the contractor.
- Don't be shy of asking your Local Authority Building Control Officer for their technical opinion. They have good local knowledge of potentially complex matters such as complying with fire regulations and provision of loft stairs.
- Don't underestimate the extent of the finishing works. Complying with Part L of the Building Regs - thermal insulation - is now a major part of the project.
- Don't be overly optimistic when budgeting. Making unrealistic budget assumptions at the outset is the most common reason for projects coming in over budget.
- Don't just pick any builder from Yellow Pages. Try to get a builder via recommendation, check their previous loft conversion projects and talk to former clients.
- Once you've accepted a quote or tender, don't change your mind about the design! Some builders make nearly half their profits charging for expensive 'extras'.
Ian Rock is an experienced chartered surveyor and freelance writer; he has contributed articles to The Observer, Build It magazine and numerous other publications. Ian has designed and managed home improvement projects since the late 1980s. He is director of a chartered surveying consultancy and a well-known speaker at property conferences around the country.
Ian Rock will be holding seminar talks and signing sessions at the following events:
Renovation A-Z, 24th - 25th May, 12.00 noon
Developing for Profit, 20th - 21st June, 2.00pm
Making More Space (attics, basements & extensions), 12th- 13th July at National Self Build & Renovation Centre, Great Western Way, Swindon
The information on this page is supplied courtesy of Haynes Publishing, please credit accordingly if you intend to use it. For more information or to request a review copy please contact Spirit PR on 0117 944 1415 or email Haynes PR
Haynes Manuals is the world's leading publisher of illustrated workshop car and motorcycle manuals, as well as producing manuals on a wide range of DIY, leisure and lifestyle subjects. These will continue to include motoring and motorsport related subjects.