My main concern when constructing loft conversions is space. I will use every inch available to create as big a loft conversion for you as possible. You're house has a perimeter (usually the 4 outer walls) so why not use them? With the new regulations in place, this is now possible on most properties. Lofts come in all shapes and sizes and some people may think its not possible to create a nice roomy conversion in theirs. The loft in my own property was quite low in terms of head height. But with a little more work than is usual and a bit of forward thinking, I was still able to achieve a head height of 2.1 meters. A friend of mine that lives in the same street has the exact same house and his loft conversion is not only small in size, but when you walk around the room, your head almost touches the ceiling. Whilst there are no regulations where ceiling height is concerned, the biggest of rooms can feel very cramped with a low ceiling. A little investigation showed that the loft company hadn't given much thought to the head height of the room and constructed the loft floor above the existing joists. With a bit of thought and extra work, the new joists could have been dropped between the old joists and valuable inches could have been added to the head height.
One of the most important factors when doing a site survey for a loft conversion isn't actually the loft, but the space on the landing of the first floor. This actually determines whether you can get a new staircase up to your loft conversion. When conducting a recent site survey, a customer advised me that they had 3 loft companies in to quote and all 3 told them that to be able to get the new staircase in, they would have to reduce the size of the box room. Nobody wants a box room to be smaller than it is already and I found this to be unnecessary. A little more thought and these companies would have found a way that was a lot less work, a lot less mess and the box room would have been left intact. Again, the solution to the problem was using every last available inch of space.
I carry out all the construction using only top quality materials. The dormer walls and flat roof are always boarded using 18mm wbp (exterior grade) plywood. Other companies tend to use OSB (oriented strand board). This is not only cheaper but (in my opinion) of a lesser quality. My reasons are given below:
Another reason, and this was a key factor when I constructed loft conversions on my own properties, is that Britain has had its fair share of terrible storms. Indeed I was a roofing contractor working in the middle of the 1987 hurricane winds that caused severe devastation across the UK (see here). I want all my loft constructions to have the best possible chance under horrendous weather conditions. Although I have never once heard of a dormer being damaged by a storm, the fact that I can pull out screws from a sheet of OSB by hand and the fact that I've seen first hand what hurricanes can do only makes me wonder what damage very high winds could be possible of.
If you have decided not to use Enfield Loft Services for the construction of your loft conversion, then ask your contractor if you can have a look at the architects drawings. If they state "exterior grade plywood" then insist on this being used.
I tend to only use Redland or Marley roof tiles (depending on the colour match of your exisiting roof) as in my opinion, these are the top 2 makes of roof tile. I have used cheaper alternatives whilst working in the roofing trade some years ago and have found these to be weaker. This creates 2 problems. Firstly it gives the customer a roof of a lesser quality (which may not last as long) and secondly, it creates problems during construction. Cheaper tiles tend to break easily, especially whilst trying to cut them. So not only do you use more, but more time is taken up whilst trying to lay them.
I also use a good quality flat roof felt for the exact same reasons. Good quality felt is around £10 per roll more expensive than standard roof felt. The thicker, better quality roof felt is easier to lay as it doesnt split/tear. So for around £60 more you get a flat roof that is easier to lay as well as being longer lasting. It's a no brainer!
I only use top quality MK electrical fittings. MK (in my opinion) are Britains best distributor of electrical supplies and I have never had a problem with any of their fittings. They are more expensive but excellent quality. You can tell this simply by the flick of a switch. My house had been rewired when I moved in 10 years ago and the previous electrician used very cheap fittings. Not only were the switches very difficult to press but after a couple of years, some failed to work and some even started to "short". I have now replaced all 3 floors with MK fittings and I am much happier.
As with most "cheaper" products, they seem to be a false economy. It certainly is worth paying that few pounds more!
Another interesting change of regulations is that of fire doors. If you already have beautiful interior doors in your home and do not wish to change them to bulky fire doors, there is a way around this. If you fit interlinking mains smoke detectors in all rooms (except the kitchen) you are able to keep your existing doors. The site of a small smoke detector on the ceiling is a lot less noticeable than a huge ugly fire door.
One of the only things I do not completely do myself. I have one of the best tilers (ceramic, porcelain, mosaic etc) in the business. He has been tiling since he was a child and was taught by his father. His work is immaculate and 2nd to none and I have never needed to call upon anyone else to do my work. Not only does he do all my lofts but has done every property I have ever owned. He is expensive but I'm afraid its one of those trades where you really do get what you pay for (but that's included in the price). Indeed his customers have included Premiership football players etc and his work is usually based around Kensington, Chelsea and Bayswater (He is often glad when asked to tile one of my lofts as he lives locally).
He only uses top quality materials (grout, adhesive etc) and this shows in his work. He tiled my first floor bathroom 10 years ago and the grout has not been touched (apart from cleaned) in all that time. The quality of his tiling can be seen in all the bathrooms in the Photo Gallery.