When it comes to a loft conversion, the timescales involved are often as individual as the conversion itself and although no two projects are the same general time frames can be given depending on the type of conversion.
What most conversion timelines have in common, are the three phases of work which are usually involved:
Literally, the drawing up of blueprint designs to create a plan of your ideal loft room, the design phase will involve scheduling in a project team (usually including an architect) to complete a survey of the loft and of the overall property, so that points such as accommodation needs, access, headroom and fire access can be carefully considered and responded to in the design. At this stage, there may be several options which appeal to you and a few different plans may be drafted before the ideal design is agreed upon. Once you’ve agreed the design with the project manager, it’s time to submit the plans to the local planning office and building control, as required, in order to obtain any consents necessary for the conversion to move forwards.
As planning relates to local authority timescales, the actual length of time it may take for planning to be granted, or for building control to visit, can vary across the whole UK. Although your planning office will be able to give you a rough guideline of when you might expect to hear, this will only be an estimate. However, ensuring that planning is right the first time (ie: compliant with the relevant regulations and local constrictions) reduces the chances of planning requests being rejected and of having to go back to the drawing board, literally. Once planning has been approved, the loft conversion project can be scheduled in real-time, with proposed dates for the conversion to start and finish, within the anticipated scope of the work.
With approval granted and building control satisfied, a full schedule of works is developed, so you’ll know exactly what needs to happen and in what order, for example: roof and exterior work; then internal roof work; followed by the installation of staircase access to loft; the ‘breaking through’ to join the new room to the rest of the house, before the final stages of creating the room, including fixings, built-in furnishing, then decorating and finishing. The actual time taken to complete this sequence of works will, of course, depend on the type of loft conversion, something which can vary considerably:
- Velux loft conversions are one of the simplest conversion types and may be completed in less than 4 weeks.
- A dormer conversion may take a minimum of 4 weeks but not usually more than 6 weeks, depending on the overall size and roof work requirements.
- Hip to gable end conversions may also last up to 6 weeks.
- If the conversion requires the whole roof to be replaced, as in a Mansard conversion, then the timescale could be around 7 or 8 weeks.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that whilst some conversion methods, such as craning a prefabricated ‘room’ into the roof space, will reduce the overall work and disruption phase, there will still be a wait-time for planning and for the room to be created off-site. Then time will still be needed for the on-site works such as installing the staircase and creating access to the room.
A schedule of sorts
Although suggested timescales are estimated, sometimes it’s just useful to know what to expect across the phases of work, particularly if you have work and family to consider. So, in an average timeline, for fairly standard conversions, you may be looking at a schedule of work which runs with these approximate timings:
- Weeks 1 & 2:
Often, the first week of ‘work’ is really a preparation stage, as materials and equipment are organised ready for work to safely and efficiently start. So, although there may not seem to be much development on the room itself, apart from the team creating a hole in the roof for access, externally a skip may be delivered, scaffolding may be erected and deliveries of materials are likely to arrive on-site, ready for use as the work progresses. At this stage, all work is happening from the outside or within the roof space, rather than impacting too much on the inside of the house. By the end of the second week, work should have begun to secure and support the structure of the roof, depending on the type of conversion.
- Weeks 3 & 4:
Now the work generally moves inside as floor joists and the loft floor are installed, followed by insulation, ventilation and internal stud walls as the work progresses. External roof works are completed for simpler conversions, such as Dormer and roof light conversions and the windows installed. For Mansard and hip to gable conversions, this work will remain ongoing. At this stage, work teams access via the roof, again with little impact on the rest of the house, unless it’s a small, straightforward conversion, in which case the following works (generally the final stages) may be completed within week 4…
- Weeks 5, 6, 7:
The first part of this final phase sees the rest of the house now involved as the staircase is fully installed and there’s the exciting moment of “breaking through” by opening the loft to the rest of the house. The stairway is made good with handrails and banisters and any additional plasterwork and new loft room is fully plaster-boarded and plastered. This stage also sees the completion of carpentry works, such as skirtings, doors and fitted cupboards, the electrics and plumbing are installed and tested before the final stage: decorating to finish off the project.
Of course, for larger or more complex conversions (for example creating multiple rooms and / or a roof terrace) extra time may be needed, but overall, you could have your extra accommodation from a minimum of one month to an approximate maximum of three.
Reducing disturbance and disruption, without adding duration
Although some households are understandably anxious about time-frames, this tends to relate to the idea of the whole timeline being one of disruption. However, the fact is that the longest periods of work aren’t the disruptive ones, but those where the work happens from above and then in finishing the room.
Certainly, when ituption is always kept to an absolute minimum, pride is taken on the work methods being as clean and efficient as possible and on delivering a quality addition to your accommodation within a matter of weeks, thanks to schedules which are pro-active, productive and organised in collaboration with the client throughout.