Hi folks, long time no post. I'm hoping somebody can offer some advice here. We could do with making better use of the loft space on our approx 20 year old house. Currently the supports for the roof are a W type arrangement, which offers a reasonable space down the middle of the loft but no easy access to the sides.
The floor has been partially boarded to allow it to carry some of the usual junk (mostly lightweight), and I appreciate the joists may need upgrading if any great load is to be carried.
There seems to be enough headroom for a loft conversion in the future, but I'd like to tackle this in stages. What I'd like to do initially is remove the W frames and replace them with either a single beam supporting the whole roof, or maybe even a beam and a single vertical support in the centre.
I appreciate I'll likely need to get the experts in for a definitive safe answer on this, but I'd appreciate some feedback/views. I can take a few snapshots if needed. Is it likely to be an expensive job to replace the structure with a beam, and if so has anyone got a rough ball park idea of price (the house is a 20 year old end terrace and the "footprint" of the loft is approximately 8m x 5m)? Again I wouldn't expect anyone can give a price with any great accuracy, I just haven't a clue if it should cost £50, £500 or £5000.
The Riviera Kid,
Most likely you will have to fit purlins, floor plates and collars and upgrade the existing joists. I would think your £5k figure is about right.
If you go for a loft conversion don't forget you will need a fire protected escape route to the groung floor exit.
Can I trouble you for a more detailed explanation (or link to further reading) of the ins and outs of fire escape routes? Plus does any of it apply if the loft is structurally converted as discussed above, but not actually finished as a habitable room (ie still ladder access and no plasterboard/extra insulation/electrics etc, and still being used really as storage)?
The Riviera Kid,
If the loft is not a habitable room then the requirement for a fire escape route does not apply.
The fire escape route would most likely be hallways and stairs with fire doors fitted to any rooms connecting to these areas.
....a firedoor being a door with some ability to keep fire from spreading through the door for a certain length of time I'm guessing? (as opposed to a big metal thing with "Fire Exit" in green lol :P )
Assuming the staircase itself needs to have some sort of resistance to fire, are most factory built/kit staircases already flame retardent, or does some sort of covering/coating need to be applied?
The Riviera Kid,
If the stairs are open to another room below then this will have to be covered (on the underneath!) with plasterboard to give the required fire resistance - otherwise no treatment needed.
Thanks again Stoneyboy, your advice is much appreciated.
This opens up another question (not sure if I should post it in a new thread or not). The plasterboard on the underside of the main staircase (in the living room) is in a bit of a state, it's got a textured finish which (besides being horrid) is cracked in places.
I had intended on ripping this off, and seeing what it would look like painted as opposed to having a plasterboard covering. This would clearly (based on previous advice) break some regulations and render the staircase dangerous. Is there some sort of paint on coating available to give the regulation fire resistance?
It could prove irrelevant if the underside of the stairs looks stupid without the plasterboard, but it would be nice to know.
The Riviera Kid,
Assuming its a wooden staircase I don't think any paint will provide the necessary fire resistance. Once you have exposed the underneath of the staircase you'll probably find a really ugly assembly of wedges, blocks and nails.
Thanks again stoneyboy. I thought it probably would be ugly underneath, I think the missus has me looking at one too many designer magazines lol.
Had someone out to take a look at the potential job yesterday, and something was mentioned that I hadn't taken into account.
Currently our ground floor to first floor staircase is in the living room (ie not in it's own corridor). It was pointed out to me that this would have to be in it's own seperate "corridor" to provide the necessary fire escape route complying to current building regulations.
The house is compact, but probably would (just) lend itself to having the stairs partitioned off, if it wasn't for one small teensy issue. For some mad reason (I think the builders changed their mind at the last minute about the front door placement), our staircase is back to front. Every other house in the street the staircase leads off the entrance to the living room, in ours, you have to walk to the back of the living room to go up the stairs.
There are no problems as far as I'm concerned only challenges, so it would appear (assuming I've received the correct advice from the builder), that the staircase would need to be reversed and the upstairs layout re-jigged to allow a fully fire protected compliant corridored escape route from top to bottom. I've been given a price and am awaiting a second price.
Given my budget at the best of times is zero, this is going to be interesting lol. However I know it can be done, as there's some new builds the same size as ours, for sale with the loft already converted.
P.S. Price for the structural stuff in the loft was pretty much as expected