Extreme Loft Conversion




About: @theDillonWilson UK STEM Ambassador Certified Raspberry Pi Educator

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

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

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.

Step 3: 3D Modeling

I decided 3D modeling would be a great idea as i would be able to toy around edit and modify the designs before making the room in my loft. I also would then have plans to work from.

I done my modeling in Sketch up.

First off i designed my loft structures and beams I also put a hatch in.
Then i began to create a room.
Then a hallway
and finally decor

If anyone would like to take a look at the models of my loft, to help you model yours then feel free.

Step 4: Planning: Calculating Costs

To work out a rough cost of the project ad how much material was required, I calculated the cost for a given area- Floor, walls and Ceiling.

Flooring pack number formula = (Length m x Width m)  ÷ A 
where A = area a pack of chipboard flooring covers.

Floor Cost formula = (Length m x Width m)  ÷ A x P
where A = area a pack of chipboard flooring covers and P = the cost of the pack.

For example ((2.5m x 5m) ÷ 1.2m) x £6 = £62.50  (for  12.5m²) 10.416 packs*

Plasterboard number of sheets formula = (Height of wall m x Width of wall m) ÷ (length of plasterboard sheet x Width of plasterboard sheet) 

Plasterboard wall cost formula = (Height of wall m x Width of wall m) ÷ (length of plasterboard sheet x Width of plasterboard sheet)  x C
where C is the cost for the sheet of plasterboard

For example (2.4m x 3m) ÷ (2.4m x 1.2m) = 2.5 sheets of plasterboard* Cost = £17.50

*Ensure you round up and not down for the number of packs of flooring or sheets of plasterboard and always be sure to buy an extra sheet of plasterboard as the off cuts can sometimes end up too small to use and these are part of the area of plasterboard you have calculated.

Step 5: Tallying Up

When it came to keeping costs to a minimum there would have to be certain tolerances and prices worked out for specific room options. I broken it down into these categorys

Wood - Lengths                                                        max £20
Wood - Chipboard Flooring                                    max £80
Plasterboard                                                              max £100
Decor (paint, Carpet, small furniture.)                   max £50
Insulation                                                                     max £40 (Spent just £9 on this)

Here is a list of the materials I used:

12 Plaster board sheets 2400mm x 1200mm (B&Q)                                    £7.64 each or £5.30 for more than 5 sheets - £63.60
8 packs of chipboard loft panels 1.2m² a pack (3pk) (B&Q)                         £7 a pack - £56
Abru 2 section loft ladders (max 2.69m floor to hatch height) (B&Q)          £40 on offer
4 packs of quick plaster (local store)                                                                £6 - £1.50 a pack
Paint subtle lime green, chocolate brown and white (Already had)            Free
lengths of wood (alot - Depends on your space, not actually required)     Free
Loft insulation rolls £3 each (B&Q)                                                                       £9

Materials Total - £174.60

Step 6: Time Scale

I made a time scale on Microsoft excel to keep track of time and when materials were to be bought.

My timescale is shown above

On week 11,12, 16 and 17 I took a break to revise for exams.

I feel the time scale really helped as it minimized trips to stores, and helped me but materials when i needed them. This prevented materials lying round and waiting for weeks to be used and prevented them being damaged.

I planned to complete the project in 17 weeks which would have happened if i didn't take breaks, but I did - and only overrun by two weeks. I also only worked max 5 hours a week due to school and essential relaxation.

Step 7: Laying the Flooring

The ladders Were fitted first off, they were extremely easy to fit, Just follow the instructions.

Before I lay any flooring down I had to secure the structure. I done this to prevent beams warping, and prevent the floorboards creaking, squeaking and having a 'bounce' in them.

I secured them by putting crossbeams in between the main supports. I secured them with 2 long screws either side.  I alternated the supports 2,3,2,3,2,3 ect to give optimum support. 
Picture above are how i fitted the supports In Green, the white beams are the support beams and the brown is the upper-side of the below ceiling, now covered with insulation.

Step 8: Laying the Flooring Part 2

I Proceeded to lay the flooring panels one by one. The panels are relatively easy to fit and are fixed down with 5/6 screws each. They also slot together nicely like a jigsaw using a tongue and groove pattern. The panels can be easily cut with a jigsaw or handsaw. They are designed to cover two beams width ways.

The panels are best to be lay alternately. Like shown in the diagram above (2nd Image).

The panels were lay in order identical to the diagram - 1,2,3,4,5,6 ect.

Also shown are some images taken when the panels were fitted.

Step 9: Plaster Boarding

It was time for the plaster boards to be purchased and fitted!

When I bought the sheets I got the largest ones sold, This saved me piecing up and saved on money. 
I had to cut the boards down the middle width ways to fit the pieces through the hatch. This meant i had to maneuver 24 12kg boards that were 2.4m through a 60x60cm hatch. God was that a challenge. 

I took a two day break after that, and had an aching body for a few days.

The plaster boards were screwed onto the beams with 8 screws a piece and were rather easy to work with. 

Unfortunately I did not take many pictures during this process.

Step 10: Insulating

This step is kinda self explanatory, but the best way to do this is buy the best insulation rolls you can afford, then roll it out onto the exterior of the plasterboard, using metal wire or string and nails to hold in place. Its also good measure to insulate under your flooring.

I got my insulation from B&Q for just £3 a roll!

Step 11: Plastering and Painting

This step is fairly easy, we all know how to hold a paintbrush.

To plaster start off with a large tin with a small amount of water at the bottom, then begin to add your plaster. Mix as you add and try to get a thick consistency that will stick to your trowel and not run off. If the plaster is too thick add more water and vice versa.

When applying the plaster apply more pressure and sharpen the angle your holding the trowel at as you lose plaster off the trowel until the face is flat against the wall. This video may help, It helped me!

How to Plaster a Wall

My plaster was wall filler as I only filled in the seams and small gaps between the plasterboard. Then I painted over the whole thing,  you couldn't really tell so the aesthetics weren't that compromised.

Step 12: Decor

I decided to upholster the two walls opposite as they were small, Breeze block and I wanted to add a warm cosy look to the room. I used two large sheets that were thick and heavy, so I used a hammer and nails to attach them up.

I also bought a couple of these:

For the flooring I got a carpet from a local carpet store, for £40 - 8ftx15ft

            The room looks very nice and is a warm comfy space to chill out and relax in!

Step 13: Video - Thanks

Well Thanks all round, Thanks for reading, Thanks to my Mum for the opportunity, Thanks to my household for putting up with a racket!



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    29 Discussions

    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!


    7 years ago on Step 13

    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.

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply
    Green Silver

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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! :)

    1 reply
    DrWilsonGreen Silver

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    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!!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank-you, This is something i have/am considering. The space is alot smaller than it looks however,



    7 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    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)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    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.



    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    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