Saturday, April 19, 2014

Loft Conversion: It's Done! (Well, Pretty Much)

You may recall we had an issue with the stairs and head height?


Well, the solution was to cut the newel post at just enough angle to give enough height on the stairs (required by Building Control) without compromising the structural soundness of the new staircase.  If I was fancy, I'd put in an arrow to show what I'm talking about, but I'm not fancy.



Always required by Building Control (since the stair tread width doesn't have the full head height it used to) is a hand rail.  It cost an extra £300 to fix the issue (ouch), but better than some of the other alternative discussed.


Here Margaret, age four, is showing you the new stairs to the loft, and also how she now has to hold open any door in the house because we have these super-annoying-but-required-by-Building-Control self closers. 


Close-up of these super-annoying-but-required-by-Building-Control self closers.  Makes life a lot more difficult for the cat (who has gone missing, by the way.  I think he's fed up with all of the building work), little fingers, and by extension...me.


Up the stairs is the landing before going into the bedroom.  (I believe also required by Building Control.)  What we're looking at is the £17K.  The stairs and the dormer are basically what cost the most on the build.


As a reminder, before the dormer and stairs it used to be a ladder down to the floor beneath.


The guys put in some storage on the landing.  Will be filled with books soon.  (They build the space specifically to fit those three bookshelves from Ikea.  Maybe someday we'll make them look a little more custom.  Not today.)


Right now the converted loft is a guest room.  Sometime down the line when the girls are older, perhaps it will be come a regular bedroom.  At some point we plan to put in a built-in dresser and wardrobe.  But for now, there's a fair bit of storage in an  area that has been boxed in with access.  The kids' excess toys are behind the wall, so it's kind of their favorite area in the house.  Maybe I'll paint it to look like a house someday.  But not today.


Here's what the area looked like about a month ago.


And now.

We got an en-suite shower room (in American speak, that's another bathroom with a shower instead of a bathtub).   Because of the funky angles of the roof, the porthole door seemed like the best door-with-glass option.


It's a tight fit, but we managed to get a full-size sink, shower and toilet in there.  Margaret is modeling in the room, for your pleasure.  (Note:  Same floor tiles we used in the downstairs toilets.  We had some left over and we're able to source the extra we needed.  And we like them.)


Here's a photo of the shower room Margaret/model-free.  We only had £750 in the budget to source all of the sanitary ware (toilet, sink, taps, radiator, everything for shower and tiles) so had to scour anywhere we could to get a good deal.  Ebay, gumtree, negotiating with vendors and even getting a new toilet seat gratis from one of our neighbors brought us in slightly over budget at £884. We'll get a few other things in here, like a shower mat/rug and mirror.  Someday.  But not today.


I'm not a great photographer anyway, but since it's a tight space, I couldn't figure out how to photograph the shower.  Here's my best attempt.


We're now a three toilet house!  To get the plumbing for the toilet, it required some, erm, creativity.  Originally the plumber suggested a macerator, but NO.  Instead, they had to drop the soil pipe down into our family bathroom, and connect it up with the soil pipe there before it could go outside.


Here's a photo of the family bathroom, with the soil pipe and connecting bits all boxed in.  Niall said it makes him feel like we have a new bathroom downstairs, as well.


In case you're wondering (and you probably aren't, unless you're Niall), this is what the family bathroom looked like before the retro-fit for the loft.


Okay.  back upstairs to the loft.  The bathroom has taken up a chunk of the room (well worth it, in my opinion), but we still have room for a little desk/study nook around the corner.  With a big sky light!

And room for a double bed.  We'll add some pictures and mirrors and maybe lamps and other accessories someday.  But not today.


Another view.  (We left the room behind the exposed oxters before boxing in the eaves.)


Shall we do a little before and after, just for fun?

When we first bought the house.


Phase 1.  (Before we put in the dormer, bathroom and stairs.)  Sadly, we had to lose the exposed chimney due to Building Regulations.  (Had to put in sound proofing along that whole wall.)


And now.  Guest rom with a bathroom.  Wasn't that fun?



As of today, we're looking at just over £32K all in for the conversion.  We'd love for you to visit.  Thanks.

Loft Conversion: Week Four

The work actually took a week and three days, but at any count, here's the update.

The stairs (even with the newel post dilemma) were a welcome change from the pull-down loft ladder.  You may notice the bedroom door on the left is missing.  All the doors had to be removed and retrofitted to make them 30-minute fire doors.


The guys taped off and sprayed a good portion of the upstairs white.


The door to the loft went in, just needing the facing, glass and doorknob to be added later.


The skip (full to the brim) was carted away.  Farewell skip!



For the first Saturday in weeks, the guys weren't here working.  Niall took the girls up to see his parents and I spent twelve hours trying to get the house organized.  The back bedroom has been the store-all room.  It was like this:



But by Saturday afternoon had been pretty well cleared out.  The king size bed we've had as a guest bed wouldn't fit up the new loft stairs, so I sold it.


The loft was almost ready to move into, so I took all the junk up.  Making the room look junky.


The en-suite door went in (sans glass) and the carpet was laid all the way out to the landing.


I took the paper off the pine stair treads, did another sand and then we did the first seal.  (Niall did that, but 9 PM I was too tired to do anything more.)



Also, before the scaffolding went down, Niall went up and took this video of the dormer.


And then Captain Supercat manned the scaffolder's truck.

Loft Conversion: Week Three

Week Three was magical for us.  Because we were off enjoying Disneyland Paris.  And the guys stayed behind and worked full-out on the house.  There were a few nights where they were there until midnight.  The stairs went in, first fix on electrics as well as plastering and painting.

The big drama, which we missed, has to do with the newel post for the new stair.  See how it's nice and bulky?  Unfortunately, it took up too much head height of the stair below.  Which is against building regs.


You can't really tell from this picture, either, but you can see Kenny's head (on the stairs) an that the newel post comes down far too low.
Even with detailed architectural plans, structural engineer drawings and stair expert geometry worked out in CAD, things don't always work as expected.  We missed the (I imagine intense) discussions about how to fix the issue.  Originally it was going to be an expensive, timely and dirty fix.  (Involved moving a doorway/rearranging a wall.)  But the joiners came up with a creative fix, which I'll get into in the next post.

At any rate, when we came home at the end of Week Three (sorry, not a lot of pictures...because we weren't there!) the loft conversion had gone from building site back to almost home.  It was as nice transition.

Loft Conversion: Week Two

Messy, cold and probably the low point of the conversion was week two.  But it's done and, uh, dusted.  I kept telling myself if we could just get through week two the rest would be easy sailing.


The dormer got framed.



It was covered and the window opening had ply.  It was such a cold few days, I had new respect for the roofers.  Did attempt to get photos, but it was too much of a faff, really.


With all the debris and dust and an uncapped down pipe, we ran into some unplanned plumbing surprises.  Our (only) bathtub and bathroom sink back-filled with dirty water.  The pipes couldn't handle the pressure, and started leaking through the ceiling, down the wall and into the kitchen.  Fun times.  The immediate solution was to cut the pipe, which relieved the pressure.  It also sent a spray down the side of the house, and left any water from the bathtub, sink or washing machine running down the back of our house, into our garden and over to our neighbors.


Short-term save.  The dirty water drained out onto the back of the house, leaving only dirt.  Basically, it mean no bathing or laundry until the plumber could fix the problem.


The dormer got insulated, the window went in as well as the new reinforced floor.  (It will make up part of the stairway and landing.


With no working bathtub, the baby got a bath in the sink.  And we showered at the gym.  Luckily, at the end of Week Two we left on a (planned and intentional) vacation.  Which meant we got to fly away and enjoy the sunshine in France and bathe in a clean tub while the builders were busy working away.



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!