ENFIELD LOFT SERVICES

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A little advice and some do's and don'ts!

 

 

 You are of course under no obligation to choose Enfield Loft Services for your loft conversion, and if for any reason you choose not to, then let me give you some advice on what to look out for with your chosen contractor. There are millions of homeowners who do not have the first idea about what to look for with construction work . They just put their trust in the people chosen and part with tens of thousands of pounds of well saved or hard earned cash to unscrupulous builders only to have to pay again at a later date to have the work corrected. To those with untrained eyes everything may look ok. But to those of us who know what to look for its quite shocking to see some of the finished projects (thank goodness for tv programs like "Cowboy builders"). Unfortunately due to the fact that there are so many "bad builders" in this industry, a lot of the time we are all tarred with the same brush and have to earn your trust 

 Whilst doing some research and checking the loft conversions that already exist in Enfield, I decided to take some photos and upload them to my website so that I can share with you some common errors in workmanship. You will also be able to refer to any of these photos if you think your chosen contractor has made the same mistakes. These photos were all taken in Enfield.

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 This dormer is not watertight. There is far too much top tile showing and it should be covered either by a lead apron or a course of top/eave tiles. The reason for this is that the top of the 2nd tile down (under the top tile) will not be covered by the (white) fascia board as it should be.

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 This is the same dormer as above. No soffit board has been used to fill the gap between the (white) fascia and tiles. You can just about make out the roof joists in the gap. This is a big no-no as insect infestation can take place. Nests can be created or wood boring insects can start to eat away at your structure.

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 Although there is nothing wrong with this structurally, it shows poor tiling. The bottom course of tiles are eave tiles and should not be on show. They should be at exactly the same level as the row laying on top of them and it looks untidy.

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 This is an old dormer but still shows mistakes. Again, the tiling is poor as the top 2 rows are unevenly spaced like the the rest (unlike the ones on the side). There should either be a course of top tiles or a 6 inch lead apron. The lead that is there is not only small but also seems unlevel from one end to the other.

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 This is a close up of the one above. Note the two different levels of tiles at the top. The flat roof has been badly done. The felt should be dressed over the sides away from the fascia board. This is done by fixing a batten to the fascia with a 3 or 4 inch piece of hardbord attached. This keeps the edge of the felt away from the dormer and gives the felt a nice stiff edge (as you can see, the felt is all "puffy" on the side and has not been laid properly). 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  The rainwater downpipe on this dormer has been stopped quite short of the gutter. In the event of a severe downpour, it is likely that the water will splash over the sides. This could cause damp problems in the walls of the house. The pipe should be a few inches longer so that the water flows out nicely causing a continuous flow into the gutter. 

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  Another example of bad tiling. This has no eaves/top tiles or lead apron and yet the top row of tiles is almost completely uncovered. The next row down will only be half way up the inside of the top tile leaving a very big chance of water ingress in a bad storm.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  The dormer below has been slated. Again, the top 2 rows are uneven in size and the top row is a bit wonky in places. Not much care has been taken in the finish. I am also rather concerned that the bolts for the Juliet balcony seem to be going through the plastic frame of the french doors. I may be wrong in this case but those plastic frames are generally hollow. I only hope sufficient fixing has been given on the inside or this could result in a rather nasty accident.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  This is the same dormer as above. The slating on the side is rather "scruffy" and is worse than the front. The corner of the dormer is also rather messy. Although there is lead present under the slates, the slates themselves could have been cut better and closer so that the ends meet and there is less gap. Particularly on the top 3 rows.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  You dont see many dormers finished in cladding and although there's nothing wrong with it, theres a couple of things to be said here. If the cladding is wood then you have the problem of painting and maintenance when needed. If the cladding is plastic then it will last a long time. Perhaps even longer than tiles but white is a bad choice simply because of it looking very dirty after a short time. Cleaning a structure that is mounted on your roof will be very difficult if not dangerous. Tile or slate is the best option as they will both weather over time and blend in with the surrounding buildings. 

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 The side wall of the same dormer. As you can see there are water run marks and heavy amounts of dirt. 

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 This is an old dormer and is in need of some repair. The (black) fascia board is timber and needs replacing. Insist on UPVC (plastic) fascia board. It is more expensive than timber fascia but will last a lifetime and will never need maintenance. This looks suspiciously like a piece of plywood that has been crudely painted. The roof felt has also seen better days and has been laid rather poorly. Rather than being dressed properly down the side of the fascia and having a drip edge formed, this has rather crudely been stuck at different lengths to the side of the fascia. The lead flashing has also come away as it has been fixed incorrectly. Correctly fixed lead that is also covered by facia board should never come loose. This is no longer water tight.

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 This is a fairly new dormer and yet the (white) fascia board is damaged. The spaces between each row of tiles are also uneven. This is lazy and bad practice, especially over such a short span. Its simple to just measure from top to bottom and divide the courses so they are spaced equally. The next photo is a close up and shows another mistake.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  A close up photo of the above. The damage to the fascia board is clear but even more disturbing is the fact that the fascia board usually drops down and covers tiles and lead. This fascia drops down onto a ledge of lead (you can see the join of the lead has a roll on top). The fascia should be out further than the tiles and lead giving coverage but the structure has been constructed incorrectly.

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 This is the same roof as above. Anything higher than the existing roofline is usually unallowed and I'd be very surprised if local authorities allowed this. There was obviously insufficient height in the roof to allow enough headroom in the new dormer so it has been extended. A better way to do this and less noticeable would have been to extend the rafters (the roof timbers that are underneath the tiles) to a height that would allow a decent headheight. Then construct the dormer off that so it isn't showing at the front of the house.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The next 6 photos are of possibly the worst loft conversion I have ever seen (and any other decent loft conversion companies that have taken a quick peek at this site will agree!). This really is a case of cowboy builders!

 Firstly, I am at a total loss as to what this design is all about. Had the view from these windows been of fantastic open countryside then I could sort of agree with losing some important wall space inside. But this house is end of terrace and at a junction in the road. The only thing it overlooks is other houses. You are also only allowed a certain amount of glazing and I think this might have overdone it a bit. The windows are also non opening so no ventilation is allowed. How this was ever passed I will never know. The best is yet to come! This loft is going to have so many problems in the future!

 This is horrendous and incredibly lazy. The fascia board should at the very least have a corner cover cap. It has been fitted very badly and you can even see into the roof space. This is a prefect entrance for water or nesting/wood boring insects. I also could not see any flat roof felt dressed over any side of the dormer so where the water runs off, I will never know.

 The leadwork below is very poor. Its a real mess and hasn't had any patination oil applied. They have also tried to seal the joints with a mess of silicon/mastic.

 Another complete mess below. So many mistakes in less than 3 feet! The internal corner has been very badly finished. Somebody has clearly tried to apply grey mastic to a white joint and failed as there is now an opening. Expanding foam has also been sprayed between the joints of tiles below to try and seal the join (lead should have been used). Two lots of (white) fascia board have been used. The only reason I can think of is that this was all they had to hand. The first piece wasn't high enough so they stuck a 2nd piece over the 1st to make up the shortfall. The ridge tile (the semi-circular red concrete item to the right of the picture) has been fitted very badly. Not only have they failed to point (cement) it properly leaving a hole to allow water or insects in but a small apron of lead should have been used between the ridge tile and fascia board. This would have created a seal.

 This picture below shows the soil stack for the en-suite bathroom. It is fitted very badly and is not even straight. There also doesn't appear to be a collar around the pipe that goes through the wall and into the dormer. A lead or zinc flashing with a rubber collar would provide a good seal between the pipe and tiles so no water can get in.

 The final picture below just shows yet again the poor fitting of the fascia board. I'm still at a loss as to where the flat roof runs off as I have still not seen any signs of flat roof felt. If it is behind the fascia board then I can only assume the white nails that you can just see have been hammered through the felt.

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This picture is for illustration purposes only. It is of an old roof but the seal between the roof tiles and chimney stack is what's known as a cement fillet. Although accepted many years ago, I would expect every latter day tradesman to now use lead flashings. Step flashings would be an added bonus. If you have normal brick chimney stacks such as this one then stipulate that you want lead step flashings to your contractor. If your chimney stack has been rendered over (cemented) then this will not allow for step flashings as the course lines for the brickwork will not be in view (this will become apparent in the next photos)

 

The roof in the picture below has recently been laid and has lead flashings but they have been done lazily. The chimney stack allows for step flashings but all that has been done here is a line has been cut diagonally along the stack and a piece of lead has been slotted in the line. Its lazy and quite bad practice. Especially for an experienced roofer. The grey tv aerial cable has also been fitted behind the flashing (!!). This is extremely lazy as it should have been brought in front of the lead and fed through underneath the tiles. The lead will have to have been cut to get the cable behind and they have crudely cemented up the cable where it joins the lead. In time the cement will fall away and create a hole where potential leaks will occur. Had step flashings been used then the cable could have been installed through the step of the flashing. I'm also not quite sure why they have used red cement to point the flashing.

The picture below shows step flashings but how NOT to do them. Whilst the correct way of using the cement lines between the bricks has been used, step flashings are cut at an acute angle (as seen in the next picture) and not at 90 degrees like these. These have the potential to allow water into the roof via the vertical lines of the lead. The flashing should also continue round to the front of the chimney stack (as in the next photo)

 The picture below shows a good example of step flashings. These are neat and have been cut to the correct angle.

 The picture below shows how not to fit ridge tiles. The three ridge tiles to the right of the picture are half round ridge tiles. They seem to have run out and used third round ridge tiles to finish off. Although water tight, they are not level with the rest and will look unsightly from the front of the house. The tiles around the roof window have also been fitted wrong. Either side of the window you will see a grey trough. To the edge of the trough there is an upstand. The tiles should cover the trough and almost touch the window keeping the roof water tight. The lip or upstand in the trough is to prevent any water that is coming down the trough from running into the roof. As the tiles clearly have not covered this upstand there is a potentail for leaks. There is also what appears to be a broken tile sliding down which has now left the roof void open.

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This is a very strange finish. Fascia board is usually the same size all round. The lead is also insufficient to make the dormer watertight. There should be at least 6 inches of lead to cover the top 2 courses of tiles (or a course of top/eave tiles should be used.

 

So there we are. Some photographic evidence of what not to do. This is not to say that I am the only loft tradesman who takes pride in their work and takes care to give his customers a quality loft conversion. Indeed there are a number of quality loft conversion companies out there (In Enfield alone). This section is there just to show you some of the poor quality workmanship that is being supplied in Enfield right now  and what you should look out for. Most people will only look at the internal finish of their loft as this is the part they are most excited about. Its all very well having a fantastic loft conversion on the inside but if any of the above mistakes are made on your loft conversion then there is the risk that your beautiful interior may be ruined by bad workmanship on the exterior. Just something to think about!

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