Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Loft Conversion: Week One

Happy to report that work is underway.  It has been a messy, cold few days, but things are progressing.

The guys have been so good about trying to keep the house livable while the work is going on.

Day 1:  Floors and doors covered in sheeting.  'Tent' around the downstairs hall put up to cut down on debris and dust spreading.  Since there is some major structural work going on, the house had to be propped up on the ground floor and the first floor (that's second floor to us Yanks.)

From what I gather, the first week was the most painful/invasive.  So the worst is behind us.  The lathe and plaster ceiling came down.

So did a portion of the floor joists.  Then some major reinforcements went in, including a flitch.  (I think it's a steal beam with wood on either side.)  The new structure has to be able to hold an entire stairway, the weight of the roof and the loft floor, which wasn't originally designed for habitation.

Out came the insulation and in came drafts and cold.  Wow, what a difference.  It makes me glad that we insulated the roof so much in Phase I.

The plan was to open the roof for the dormer in Week 1, so the scaffolding (all £850 of it) got erected. Last week was dreary, wet and cold.   On the day of the roof opening is was rainy.  Very rainy and windy.  So the roof stayed on over the weekend.

On Monday the roof got opened, and the guys framed out the dormer.

And we had a big hole with a very nice view!

Panorama of the loft.

The dormer walls and roof are framed and have plywood, ready for the roofer and window.  Tomorrow the guys are going to start framing out the internal walls.  And the insulation is back!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Phase II Loft Conversion-We're Almost Starting

Last June (a few weeks after we moved into the house, also nine months ago) we started seriously planning the loft conversion.  When we did Phase I (the renovation), we did some loft work.  (And by we, I mean we paid for it and the pros did the hard work.)  We reinforced the floors, put in a big roof window (Velux), and properly insulated the roof, at a cost of £7,558.  As a reminder, here's what the attic looks like currently.

It's such a great space, but it is a pain using the pull-down ladder to get to it.  One up, there's a huge hole with a ten-foot drop down to the floor below.  Our little girls (age 1 and 3, if you recall) are ever so keen to go climbing.  And they love to run around, but the hole gives me serious anxiety.  So the room is only usable once they are asleep or under VERY close supervision.

The actual loft conversion, the next phase, is more costly (just over £23.5 K including design, planning and the build) and structurally involved; adding a dormer, stairs and an en-suite shower room.

We're scheduled to start on March 17!!

Design and Planning

Here's how the timeline has played out so far:

  • Three (3) Months Design (June-August 2013):  We met with our architect and started talking to planning in June.  It took a few months (and a few meetings with planning) to get a design we were okay with and Glasgow Council said would likely get approved.
  • Two (2) Months Planning Consent (September-October 2013):  It took us about eight weeks to get planning approval for the dormer.  
  • Four and a half (4.5!) Months Building Consent (October 2014 to February 2014):  In Scotland you have to get a building warrant before starting structural works.  We submitted this concurrently with planning, and thought we'd have the build finished before Christmas.  Wrong!  Glasgow Council has substantially cut back their staff, so our application was not even initially reviewed until eight weeks after we'd submitted it.  Other (small) questions took ages to answer.  Ugh.  It was a frustrating process, but we were so happy to hear we were approved on Feb. 24 that we could get started.
  • One (1) Month Build work (March-April 2014):  The builders think it should take four weeks to get the loft into shape.  Here's hoping, because we have guests coming April 19th.  But, as is building work, we've warned them they may be coming to a construction zone.

When we put in our planning application, we also put in plans for a side extension (Phase III).  Submitting both together (loft + extension) will hopefully save time and money in the long run.  The side extension at least a year away, but also received approval.  Our architect put this 3-D rendering together, as the planners were having a hard time understanding his vision for the extension.  (Sorry about the weird cropping, I'm not great at doing a non-rectangular crop in pdf to jpeg, so this is what you get.)

The Design/Planning phase of the loft conversion cost just over £3,000.  (Design, surveyors, and fees for Planning and Building Control.)

Tender and Preparation

Our Quantity Surveyor, poor guy.  He has been really good and super supportive through this whole drawn out process.  Surprise!  The build is coming in higher than we planned; 5% higher than we even had in the bank for the project.  Our QS  helped us get four difference quotes and worked with the contractor we're actually using to help get the budget to a place that we can manage.  (Fingers crossed!)  
All in, we think we're going to spend £31,000 on the extension.  Costly for one room!

What we're aiming for is to get a set of stairs (rather than a pull-down ladder) up to the attic space.  Because of the pitch of our roof, we need a dormer on the side of the house to give us the head height for the stairs.  So, our roof is supposed to end up looking like this:

And if you could cut our house in half and look in, the actual attic space is going to be turned into a bedroom and an en-suite shower room.  Neither is huge, but we like how (we think) it will look and work for our family.  (Both of these are screenshots of a Sketchup mock our architect put together.)

Last night I did a fairly pathetic Sketchup of the shower room. The en suite is small, but adequate.   Niall and I are searching like mad, sourcing the bargain fittings for the bathroom.  (Anyone know of a good vanity, cheap?)

It is going to be messy here for the next while, and yesterday was the kick-off.  Since the work is beginning in just over a week, we're cleaning out the attic and storing it elsewhere.  I have done several major clean-outs over the past nine months.  It's still shocking to see how much 'needed' stuff we have shoved up there!  Next up is transporting Niall's large collection of books and papers from the loft to his office on campus.

Fingers crossed!  Nine days and counting...