Instructables

Extreme Loft Conversion

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Around 8 months ago I was offered an opportunity every child would wish for, an opportunity that I could not say no to, nor waste any time on beginning.
The opportunity was to undertake a relativity large loft conversion that was small on budgetBut if that wasn't enough of a challenge for you then I also had to work with the internal support beams that held the roof together without removing a single one! And I was alone, No help at all. I am now 15 but was 14 when I began the conversion.
 
So to sum it up i was undergoing a loft conversion. But i was only making a small room.

That my friends was my EXTREME challenge!


All my 3D models and projections are made in Google sketch up
 
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Step 1: Planning: Initial Thoughts...

So after considering how I should tackle the task, I decide to go no further without a plan. 

My plan would consist of these key elements:

  Budgeting costs for the materials,
    3D models of the operation i was going to do,
      How could I gain maximum space for minimum price,
        and where and when I would buy each required material.

Shown above is a diagram of my loft space - I live in a terraced house.
  


Step 2: Deciding the Optimum Location

Picture of Deciding the Optimum Location
When It came to deciding where the room would go I had to think...

I wanted the room i was going to construct to have no intrusive beams visible.

So that left me with two obvious options.

Option 1 - A short wide 5m long room that was triangle shaped.
Option 2 - A Tall wide 5m long room that was triangle shaped.

Clearly the largest option was option 2 however, a downside to this option was the position of it relative to the hatch. This meant I would have to build a short hallway leading into the room.
Dude, that's awesome! I'm 14 and I think we have space in our attic. I'll see if I can do this. Thanks!
DrWilson (author)  StandingOnStones11 months ago
Hope you're allowed! Good Luck!

If you do get permission and crate your own pad, post some pictures and I'll send you a patch!
MissBetsy2 years ago
Great job and a awesome place to tinker, read or just relax! Also an excellent approach on how to divide the work, acquire materials and set goals.
DrWilson (author)  MissBetsy2 years ago
Thank-You!!
jhlewisjr2 years ago
Congrats on the conversion - incredible for your age. Hope you enjoy it
DrWilson (author)  jhlewisjr2 years ago
Thank-you!
SandLizard2 years ago
Maybe you could add Option 1 later and put your bed in there and have the existing room as a living room or entertainment room or something.
DrWilson (author)  SandLizard2 years ago
It's funny you should say that, I'm already planning for it!

Thanks!
Great project, and it's well done too. Do you find it gets very hot in there in summer?

One of my friends did this with his girlfriends council house, he went a bit further and cut out supporting joists. After 6 months or so, there was a definite noticeable sag in the roof from the road, then a few months later the roof partially collapsed.
Needless to say, she got evicted! :)

DrWilson (author)  Green Silver2 years ago
One of the many reasons I didn't remove the beams to benefit from extra space! Thank-you for the compliment!!

P.S. summer has yet to arrive!!!
Madrigorne2 years ago
I see there is still a ton of unused - inaccessible space up there - you could box in a portion and inset drawers/cupboards into your walls to provide yourself clothing space without detracting from the usable floorspace in your room. if you slant the drawer facings you'll be able to snug them RIGHT against the walls themselves and not ruin your aesthetic. Beautiful room, great work there.
DrWilson (author)  Madrigorne2 years ago
Thank-you, This is something i have/am considering. The space is alot smaller than it looks however,

Drwilson
pinklizzy2 years ago
I love the space shape, well done for creating it. It looks like the perfect hideaway.
Rules were made to be broken! So just don't tell the internet audience exactly where you live, and the planners will never find you! Just be safe in case of fire, get a smoke alarm up there.
Enjoy!
DrWilson (author)  pinklizzy2 years ago
Haha, So true! Thank-you pinklizzy
Well done. :)
DrWilson (author)  mountainmandan2 years ago
Thanks!!
rickharris2 years ago
I like your approach. BUT a couple of words of caution:

1. It is more than likely your in a modern house and the roof joists are roughly 60 x 40 These are not intended to be load bearing and so depending on the construction of the supporting (or not) walls below may not be structurally sound to carry a lot of weight. i.e. flooring, beds, you and other stuff your going to take up there.

First signs the ceiling cracks, then the wood creaks and in extreme cases the whole lot falls down. In winter the load on the joists and rafters may go up by a ton or more as snow gathers on the roof. So what is working now may give problems when the weather changes.

2. You may have broken planning regulations as they say any place that is inhabited MUST have a permanent staircase fitted and fire regulations say it must have a fire proof door separating the living areas and possibly another way of exiting the area in case of a fire. i.e. a fire escape. A loft ladder isn't good enough.

3. There are also minimum floor areas and height restrictions in the planning regulations

4. You may have invalidated your parents house insurance by doing this because of 1 and 2 and 3

I know I sound like a spoil sport and you have done a good job both in the attic and the rite up and you may well choose to ignore what I say, especially as you look to have done a very good job. again sorry to sound negative - don't let this put you off building projects just make sure you look into the relevant regulations before you go ahead.

Most attics would be expected to have a minimum of 270mm this is far above the standard rafters which makes the fitting of a floor difficult.

Your plasterboard will need insulating on the other side as will the tile side or it's going to get very cold or energy inefficient. up there.
A few responses from someone who designs loft conversions for a living.

1> I find the way the floor was made a little concerning. Usually in these non-regs jobs the rafters are cross-braced with shallow "floor joists" running perpendicular to the ceiling joists. This being a truss roof the timber should be at least C24 grade so more stable than some I've seen this done on. If all that's up there is plasterboard, flooring a bed and some clothes I don't think it's much of an issue... if he starts bringing up weights, a big TV, loads of books, several friends - well, things could get interesting. As you said though - cracked ceilings in the rooms below should be the first clue something's up.

2> Planning permission is not needed for a job like this. Building regulations weren't met, but that's not a legal issue, it's a safety one. If there's a fire - this room (no windows, no fire protection) would be a nightmare.

3> No there aren't. Building regulations have something to stay about headroom at the head of a stair, but apart from that you can make it as big or as small as you like. If the roof sketches provided give an accurate representation of the available height this far exceeds the headroom requirement anyway.

4> This could well be an issue if an insurance claim is made.

Insulation is probably going to be the biggest problem though. Looking at it I'd guess there's probably no air gap between the insulation and the roof felt near the ridge. If not that will be hampering the movement of air between the eaves and the ridge vents which could cause condensation trouble and the associated problems that come with having a damp roof space.

That said, as a job done by someone in his mid teens, I'm really very impressed. If he's capable of this kind of work now I hold high hopes for his future.

DrWilson - my hat's off to your, sir.

Keep in mind that the comments you've received from me and RickHarris aren't just trivial though.

Have a look into a space-saver (or paddle-tread) stair. Find a way of fitting that (perhaps over the main stairs in the house - but make sure there's no less than 2m headroom between the new and old stair at any point) instead of the retractable loft ladder and you'll be in a MUCH safer setup with regards to fire.

You should also look into fitting a Velux GHL F06 top-hung window between two of the trusses on the side facing away from the road (planning permission issues). Since you're lacking a proper escape route you really do NEED an alternative.
Ideally for an escape window you'd need something like a GHL M06 or M08, but unless your trusses are about 800mm apart you won't be able to fit them in without cutting a rafter.
Other manufacturers make windows that might give you a wider opening without cutting rafters - make sure they are TOP HUNG though - not much use as an escape when they are only centre-pivot.

If I was going to prioritise the jobs I'd go for a window first, then a proper ladder/stair and then making sure the insulation isn't blocking airflow between the ridge and the eaves (you could probably use an eaves tray for this - your friendly neighbourhood builder's merchant will know what that is).
I'm not daft enough to think that everyone who does a loft conversion is going to be prepared to pay what it takes to do it all by the book, but if you can make those few changes you'll have a much better, safer room than you currently do.

Again, nice work... just a bit more and it'll be fantastic - if still not quite up to scratch on the full building regulations.

You should be proud of yourself. :o)
DrWilson (author)  BigShotUK2 years ago
Thank you for your comment. I am currently deciding whether to fit a window or not; My step dad works in windows. I agree about the fire safety, Fires just happen and we can never anticipate or prevent them, BUT we can have procedures in place to tackle them and deal with them - Potentially lifesaving.

Thanks!
DrWilson (author)  rickharris2 years ago
Whoops Forgot to mention that i insulated the other side, I'll edit that in!

Thanks for the constructive criticism, and as for the regulations well, this if more of a storage space than living space, in the uk we have little snow and our neighbors have had a conversion using their rafter supports. Again thanks for th supportive criticism and positive comments,

Dr Wilson
Biggsy DrWilson2 years ago
Surely you would still need planning permission, I live in the UK and this doesn't look to conform with building regulations... im not saying you shouldn't have converted the attic, but perhaps posting it on the internet was a silly idea... Essentially if it doesn't apply to building regs and doesn't have the right certification it will invalidate the home insurance and will get the home owner in to a lot of trouble with the council. If part of a building project doesn't have the right backing, or planning consent, it will also make the future sale of the house very difficult.
i knew a guy who built a massive model railway in his loft (in the UK) then someone reported him. he had to take the whole thing down because he didnt have planning permission. lost a conciderable amount of money. was all because he had it published in a magazine. so i would be carefull about posting it up on here.

sorry for being so negative, excelent instructable though. :)
Depending how he did it - that sounds odd.
If he built a "dormer" roof extension over a certain size of facing the road he'll have needed planning permission but there's absolutely nothing in planning law that requires anyone to get permission to put a layout in their roof space.
Unless I'm missing something key, your friend was given some extremely bad advice and lost his layout for nothing.

There's nothing about this instructable that would have needed planning permission. There are some issues with building regulations (particularly fire safety and insulation) but nothing that will mean anyone's going to turn up at the house and tell them to take it down.
Beware the Ministry of How singe. (it's spelt like that on the van! I'm very observant) Nice chill pad. Speaking from experience tho, I'd ask you to please be careful with the lamp and the draped fabrics.
DrWilson (author)  dreamberry2 years ago
Thanks! I'll hope not to make the same mistake!
paganwonder2 years ago
Nicely executed, thanks for sharing. As to structural integrity- roof trusses are usually designed for at least 60% over load- you could check with builder for specifications, probably a non-issue unless you move a waterbed up there!
DrWilson (author)  paganwonder2 years ago
Yeah, not really an issue as the bed is an air bed and there is no heavy furniture up there. Thank-you!
Tinker832 years ago
looks like a nice little gameroom/hide-from-the-sibs hangout to me.
DrWilson (author)  Tinker832 years ago
Hahaha thank-you