First, check that your loft is suitable for conversion. Structural engineers will consider things like head height, obstacles such as water tanks, and the pitch angle. If the initial inspection shows the head height to be lower than 2.2m, you will be advised to raise your roof or lower the ceiling in the room below.
It is unlikely that your existing ceiling joists will support a converted loft, so new joists should be installed. The size and grade will be specified by the engineer and the new joists will take the weight of the new conversion.
Building control inspectors will also specify the degree of insulation that your loft will require. Roofs can be insulated with materials such as Celotex, which can be added to the rafters.
Staircases should also be considered when converting loft space. Ideally, the staircase should land in line with the roof ridge. Regulations for domestic properties specify that there should be no more than 36 steps on the staircase if it is straight, and the maximum height of each step should be 220mm. However, if the building is used for commercial purposes, straight staircases should not be higher than 16 steps.
Fire safety is also paramount. Plasterboard ceilings beneath the attic room will delay the spread of fire through the house. The loft should have a stable staircase and openable windows so that inhabitants can escape in an emergency.
Converting cellar space can create valuable extra living space and drastically improve your home, but there are some important factors to consider.
First, converting an existing basement beneath a dwelling does not necessarily require planning permission. However, reducing the floor level of a cellar to create more room is classed as an extension and may need planning permission. Before commencing any work in connection with converting a basement, obtain professional advice to see if planning permission is required.
Building regulations should also be considered. If you are creating a habitable basement, your local authority will need to approve it – whether you are creating an entirely new room or changing the purpose of the room so that it will be used as a living area.
Waterproofing the cellar is also important. This is often achieved by ‘tanking’, which is the application of waterproof material to the structure. The material is usually a thick cement layer that is added to the walls, linked to a waterproof screed on the floor.
Cavity drain membranes are a great alternative to tanking. They create an inner waterproof structure within the basement, behind which is a fully-drained cavity.
Barn conversions have become very popular in Britain and are amongst the most impressive and attractive structures in the country. By following the simple steps below, you will be able to develop a barn so that it will become structurally sound and valuable.
Typically, stone walls will not have a cavity and will need to be insulated in order to comply with building regulations. Leaving original brickwork or stone can appear very attractive, but given the need to insulate the property, this should be saved for internal partition walls.
In most cases, the roof of the barn will need to be replaced in order to allow for repairs and insulation. Where rafters are made from interesting timbers, many developers like to leave them slightly exposed. However, it will be necessary to insulate between them.
If attractive windows and doors are left partially intact, it is worth improving them so that they remain a part of the property. However, narrow ventilation slits that commonly feature in barns should be glazed with a fixed double-glazed unit to keep the property warm.
It is important to remember that barns were not initially built to be homes, so before starting work ensure that you have built into your costings a sufficient contingency to deal with any unexpected issues that may arise during the conversion.
Financing Your Ventures
Before undertaking your conversion, it is important to consider how you will fund your project. Some developers are able to support their ventures through personal finances, but many consider development loans and other forms of alternative finance.
If you are looking to add value to your home through refurbishment, check out Affirmative Finance’s article, ‘The Advantages of Refurbishing Your Property’ here.