We are working with lifestyle blogger, Nicky of Not Just the 3 of Us for her advice on loft conversions. As someone who recently went through the highs and lows of converting her space she is here to offer her expert advice on the subject.
So you’ve decided to convert your loft area to make some more bedroom space. Congratulations! A very wise decision. You won’t regret it. Having made this decision, you will, of course need to tackle the small matter of ‘things that lurk in the loft’. My advice here is to take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in.
There is something very cathartic about clearing out and rehousing things that have been hiding away over the years. You certainly won’t look back once you have done so. You may even discover some cash in the attic! Even better. Where there’s muck, there’s brass. But you will not look back. I promise. I say this with confidence as we have recently become the proud owners of a new loft bedroom. Of course, there are many options as to how to convert your space. You may well be making those decisions right now.
Our choice was for a large bedroom with an en-suite bathroom. We wanted a space for ‘grown-ups’ that would also be an ideal relaxation area too (should the need for such behaviour arise!). There are many things to consider. And hindsight, as we know, is a wonderful thing. It is with this hindsight that I would like to share with you a few tips around some of the things that I wish I had known in advance. Obviously, all builders will do things in a different order but, nevertheless, forewarned is forearmed in my book.
Choice is a big feature of your loft conversion and there will be many choices to be made. And we want to make them good ones – don’t we!? Especially when it comes to choosing things that may not previously have been on your radar. I mean – surely I’m not the only one that didn’t know what a ‘Bull-Nose’ was?! I digress.
Grab yourself a cuppa and let me tell you my top useful tips.
Visualising your loft is key
This first point is my biggest piece of advice. It may sound completely obvious but do try to visualise the end result and how you want the design to look overall. You are effectively building a structure from scratch. We found it really helpful to mock up a simple pen and paper sketch – basic as it sounds. You will also receive a copy of the architect plans from which you can gauge the layout and approximate sizes.
Sizes are key early on. You will most likely need to purchase bathroom furniture, fittings and radiators in advance. Knowing the rough area of your bathroom space is really important. The plumber will need to lay pipework during the First Fix (see below). We also chose our tiles early on. You don’t want to get caught on the hop and have to rush your choice.
Another thing to bear in mind is that you are likely going to need to redecorate thewhole hallway and re-carpet depending on your existing layout.So, the build will take place in two phases. These are known as the first and second fix.
The first fix will be the actual conversion. This is the majority of the building work, the knocking out and rebuilding. This includes building the Dorma. The main ‘box’ structure of the room. This is also the noisiest part. Make friends with neighbours! You will need to visit the roof during the first couple of weeks (probably via the scaffolding). Remember the choices I mentioned!
Please know that builders will talk to you in technical terms. Do not be afraid to ask questions. They are not daft questions. They know what they mean, you don’t. If you are anything like me, sizes need to be visualised and technical terms explained. Relationships will flourish and you won’t have to tell them to change something that they have spent all day doing. Win/Win.
On your first visit you will need to choose and consider things like:
-Windows (types and sizes). There will generally be the main window, the Velux, the bathroom window and staircase window.
-Electrical sockets (amount and location) NB smoke alarms are required by law to be fitted in every room or fire doors throughout.
-You will be asked where you want internal walls.
-You will also be asked (where applicable) if you want to retain the alcoves around any chimneys. This confused me. It’s basically whether you want the walls to be flush. Easy choice in our case as there is only one complete wall. We chose flush.
-You will also need to advise where you would like the radiators’ to go as the pipework needs to be laid.
-Doors (colours, styles and sizes). They will be ordered.
-Skirting Boards (colours, style and sizes). They will be ordered.
-Some of your bathroom furniture/fittings will also be needed (hence advance bathroom choosing).-
-You will be asked about the colour and type of slate that you wish to go on the external surface of the Dorma.
-Type of lighting.
-Eaves access. We went for a door either end. And a light. Don’t forget we have ditched the man cave in favour of ‘Sheaves’. Easy access and none of this ‘out of sight’ malarkey.
This is also where your plan comes in. An important piece of advice here is to really consider wall space. This is quite difficult when you are standing in a room of fresh air. My reason for saying this is because most loft conversions are a) not particularly high (ours is 2.2m) and b) ‘whole’ wall space is premium. To further explain this, you will lose a wall to the eaves space. One wall will be mainly window. One wall will be doors. It is likely that your one ‘whole’ wall will be where you put your bed.
If you want wardrobes (it’s a bedroom!), they need to go where there is a big enough wall space. Likewise, ‘stumpy’ walls (eaves) may be perfect for a dressing table. And don’t forget the plug sockets!!! Hairdryers to manual and all that! You may also want to consider a TV on the wall. The electrics and aerial socket will be fitted during first fix. You may not want this to be on the only wall where a wardrobe could go. This will be where you need to weigh up your choices. In short, that is hanging space vs TV. There is room for both but you just need to be a bit strategic here.
It is during this first fix that the builders will also ‘knock through’. This is the part where they actually knock the existing hall ceiling down in order to make way for the staircase. This can for some people be the worst stage in terms of mess. You will need to be out of the house that day. Having said that, we came home to a more or less spotless house with a new staircase and very high ceiling. Things move quite quickly from this point. The room just seemed to appear before our eyes. It’s very exciting.
If you haven’t already done so, you may want to line up a decorator. Good tradesmen have full books.
Once the staircase is fitted, windows installed and all of the insulation and plasterboard is in place, the builders will leave and the plasterer will come in.
The second fix will involve the carpentry – doors, door frames, skirting boards, staircase, flooring (needed early on), electric sockets, the rest of the bathroom fittings and tiling of the bathroom. You will also receive a visit from the‘mastic man’ for all of the sealing in the bathroom.
These are the finishing touches if you like. The gentle part of the conversion. You can also keep looking now that you have the staircase!
Our entire build took six weeks. We then had a two week break before decorating commenced. In hindsight this was no bad thing as the plaster needed time to dry out. I did make sure I nabbed my wallpaper in good time too. One big bonus for us was that the company arranged for the outside of the house and windows to be cleaned. It was well needed.
As I have said, all builds will differ. All houses are different in size and shape. Our experience is indicative of a 3 bedroom terraced Victorian home. What will be the same though, is that at some point you can wave goodbye to your scaffolding, skip and workmen. And the rewarding part is now yours. A beautiful blank canvas to decorate as you wish. And a wonderful new room. Time to fill your eaves!
Good luck and enjoy!
George have a great selection of bedroom furnishings for you to add the finishing touches to your newly converted loft. From large furniture like wardrobes to smaller items like bedding, we have your needs covered.