Will our loft be suitable?

What if we're in a Conservation Area?

Dormers, mansards or what?

Decorating & bathroom fitting?

Will we need planning permission?

What about architects?

What guarantee will I get?

How will the project be managed?

How long? What's the process?

Party walls & neighbours

Building Regulations

Could I do it myself?

Would it be better to move?

Return

 

Is our loft suitable?

Probably, and don't necessarily accept it if another loft company says your ridge is too low - we may well have other solutions

If you're in a street of similar houses and your neighbours have been converted you are probably not even looking at this page.

But if your home is not typical or neighbours with similar houses haven't taken the plunge you may not be so sure. If you can stand up comfortably in your loft at its highest point you should be OK because the job can be done without raising the ridge - but if you can't all may not be lost.

Please do not assume that your local authority won't allow you to raise the ridge. Some do, some don't, and some even have different policies for different streets. And once again all is not lost because it is also often possible to lower the upstairs ceiling. So if another - less experienced - loft company has told you that there's not enough room for a loft extension, please still give us a call.

We have been building lofts in London for many years and know what each authority will accept, what options are available, and how to present your plans to specific planning departments with the best chance of acceptance.

Raising ridges or lowering ceilings

A low-rise loft need NOT be an end to your plans. Even if you've found that you can't stand up in your loft or been told by a less experienced loft company that your property isn't suitable for conversion, we'd still welcome your enquiry.

The fact is that some councils will give permission for you to raise the ridge of your roof under certain circumstances, but it is important to consult experts who know what each council will accept and how it should be approached.

And even if this solution isn't feasible, we can still lower an existing internal ceiling for better use of your existing space. Please click on the grey buttons for drawings of how we have solved this problem for existing clients.

 

What are the options in a conservation area?

If you live in a conservation area, like the the propertiy in the picture, the council may not allow you to have a large rear dormer, but they will let you have a mansard or a combination of Velux roof windows and small dormers.

Here we will need to submit plans for approval so it pays to use a company that knows all the local planning departments and has experience with each council and what they accept. Because be assured, they are all different.

Googling your council and conservation areas in the first instance will give you an initial indication of your position, then talk to us so we can make the best of your available options.

Dormers for conservation areas

Dormers in conservation areas tend to be smaller and not full width or full depth. The examples will show this. Some also are required to be leaded to give an in keeping attractive more traditional finish on the outside.

Although the space is reduced you will find that it is still possible to fit a new double bedroom and shower room into the loft space.
Here, with just one dormer, we can fit in a bedroom - or perhaps a bedroom and study as well as a shower room with WC.
An alternative might have been a large bedroom with a luxurious en suite bathroom for the best ever guest accommodation - though you might easily decide to use the room yourself.

As always the choice us yours.

We will be able to help you decide what is best for you will the help of architect and our knowledge of the area you are in.

 

Velux, Dormers, Mansards hip to gable... What's it all about?

There are several ways of going approaching your project and the one you select depends on your property, your tastes and the regulations. Here's a quick guide to the basic types.

Velux conversions

This is the simplest and most inexpensive version. Velux roof light are simply added to an existing roof leaving the external and internal space exactly the same except for the staircase, which is manufactured by specialised joiners im off-site workshops and installed at the last stage of the process. In most homes a surpring amount of space is left and plenty of extra cupboard space is provided.

There is seldom any need to apply for planning permission and you won't necessarily need a new roof.

More on Velux conversions.

Dormers

Dormer conversions are by far the most popular option. They are distinguished by the fact that they take the shap of a perfect "box" and offer the best value in terms of space. A typical arrangement - and the one usually the most acceptable to planning authorities - is to have the dormer at the back with Velux lights at the front. This means very little change to the look of the building at the front and a magnificent outlook to the rear - maybe including French window and a balcony or terrace.

If your home is L-shaped like so many London Victorian and Edwardian houses, an L-shaped dormer can have space for two new rooms and a shower room.There is seldom any need for planning permission and you may not need a new roof.

Some Dormer examples

Mansards

Mansards are typically associated with London town houses with flat-looking "butterfly" roofs, but can be chosen anywehere that a client finds them more attractive, or the local authority insists on it.

The roof slopes at 72 degrees and smaller dormerwindows are inset so so there is very little compromise to the quality of the space inside and if you are on the end of a terrace the end wall will be built up to match the existing brickwork.

You also have the option of going for mansards as an alternative to standard or L-shaped dormers which can be combined with Velux lights on one side.There is seldom any need for planning permission and you my not need a new roof.

Deeper into mansards

Hip to Gable

This is the solution if your roof has a sloping hip-end instead of a gable end - the type of house that was more commonly build after the Edwardian period.

The good new from a planning point of view is that your are allowed the sme 40cu mtrs roof space as your mid-terrace neighbours, but your end wall will need to be built up and your gable extended to meet it.

Once you have done this you may be able to add an extra window to the end of your new room and will also have the same options as with the other types - Velux, Dormer or Mansard.

Hip to gable ideas

 

Finishing the job

A lot of our competitors see themselves just as builders and think they've finished when the walls and roof are in place and the roof is finished.

Not us. We understand that to you a bedroom has decorated walls and that bathrooms have sanitary fittings and tiling.

Please do not assume that your local authority won't allow you to raise the ridge. Some do, some don't, and some even have different policies for different streets. And once again all is not lost because it is also often possible to lower the upstairs ceiling. So if another - less experienced - loft company has told you that there's not enough room for a loft extension, please still give us a call.

Of course you are welcome to make your own arrangements if that's would you'd prefer, but we are also very happy to arrange to take the job as far as you like. Indeed, if you think the rest of your home is looking a little dowdy after your new extension is finished, we'd be happy to discuss that as well.

 

Planning permission & dealing with the council

You may well not need permission but, if you do, you should choose a company that's experienced in working specifically with your council

This is sometimes required if you have a flat or your property falls within a conservation area.

We engage professional architects for all our projects, and they produce detailed plans and specifications for your approval. We will almost certainly know the planning departments of your particular council and have a detailed knowledge of their requirements, and even how these can even vary from street to street.

Where necessary we will submit plans in the correct format to the council and they will probably accept them with a minimum of formality. After all, a lot of the individuals know us as well as we know them and appreciate that South London Lofts will have got it right.

 

What about architects?

Quite simply it's up to you. We pride ourselves on providing the complete service so would be happy to provide the services of a qualified architect who specialises in loft conversions.

He or she will make the very best of things whilst avoiding those small errors that could irritate you for decades - like that door that would open properly if it had been moved a few inches.

Or we are of course we are very happy to work with your own architect if that's what you'd prefer.

 

What guarantess do I get?

South London Lofts Ltd will guarantee the work we do for you for 10 years with our company guarantee, which we'll issue when the project is completed, so be assured in the unlikely event that something needs looking at after we have completed the work, we'll pop back to have a look and put it right.
We've been around a long time and one of the reasons for this is that we look after our customers and their projects!

All our work is signed-off by Aedis Regulatory Services, a government authorised independent company whose job is both to check basic design features like ceiling-heights and door-widthsand to make sure the project is correctly constructed.

South London Lofts Ltd is also a member of both FMB (Membership No 13045) and the Guild of Master Craftsmen (Membership No X083045) and are bound by their regulations. We strongly recommend that you check the membership credentials of any competitor you may be talking to on www.fmb.org.uk and www.guildmc.com.

Being a member of these organisations shows that we are very serious about our work and service as each organisation has criteria that each member have to comply with to uphold high standards in the industry.

South London Lofts Ltd has full Insurance cover of Employers Liability at £5 million and Public Liability £5 million.

 

How will the project be managed?

The project management is carefully organized with our team and is a system that we have worked and developed over the years.

We don’t have lots of separate teams but one group that are centrally run and organised, so each conversion goes through the same system to ensure high standards and quality of service to you.

You will have a project manager that will be your point of contact through the conversion and also at least 7 other points of contact while your loft is being converted.

Before the work starts you will be introduced to a project manager who will be your main point of contact through the project. He will personally ensure that everything that happens goes according to plan.

He will be available to discuss anything with you all through the project, remember we also have an central office with other back up people who will be able to discuss anything with you. We are especially proud of the fact that, if you look on our testimonials page, you will see how often our managers are singled out by name by customers expressing their appreciation.

Tradesmen

The tradesman that will build your conversion have worked with the company for many years, it’s a settled work force and each member has been tried and tested for their reliability and ability to do the work to a high standard.

Also, because of the length of time that the men have worked together, the teamwork between each trade is fantastic and second to none.

 

What's the process?

It's usually a good idea to have a starting date in mind that we can work towards and, because we don't have a waiting list as such, we will usually be able to accommodate you. Here's how it goes.

Plans
If you are keen to get moving with the project the first thing we do is get our architect to contact you to arrange a visit to get the survey done in preparation of drawing up your new plans. These will be done and sent to you in about 7 days.

Deposit
All that is required for this process at this stage is a £1,200 part payment deposit.
This is all you will pay until we start the work.

Contract

Prior to starting the work we will get a stage payment contract completed with you. Once this has been done then we can get started with the conversion.
The lead in time to start a conversion that requires planning permission, (Generally Flats and conservation areas). From 8-12 weeks (Planning permission takes eight weeks)
The lead in time to start a conversion without planning, via permitted development, (Generally Houses). From 2-4 weeks.

Towards a timetable

  1. The first thing we do after you have called us is to pop over to your house and talk to you about your loft and find out your requirements.
  2. After this we send you very quickly a free no obligation quote, normally via email.
  3. Once you've had time to digest everything and you're ready to get going we will send out our architect to measure up and get some plans and structural calculations done. These are then submitted to Building control and we will have approval in 2 days.
  4. Next is a start date we agree with you and we look to get the scaffolding put up in anticipation of starting the conversion.
  5. Material delivery and work starts, week 1.
  6. Floor structure is installed and extensions are built in the first week.
  7. The staircase is ordered and fitting is normally
    in week 2 of the project.
  8. First fix plumbing and electrics are done week 2, to your specification.
  9. All windows are supplied and installed week 2-3
  10. Insulation and plastering is done normally by week 3-4
  11. Second fix plumbing, electrics and carpentry are done week 4-5
  12. Roofing work is usually completed in
    week 5-
  13. Decoration of the loft and tiling in the shower room can be started now.
  14. Final touches and completion of work weeks 6-8 and sometimes 9-10 depending on the size of the conversion.
  15. Final sign off with building control.
 

Party walls a problem?

Neighbours cannot stop you doing the conversion but can make you pay for their own surveyor

The party wall is owned by all those whose house is connected to it. Because you are planning to do a loft conversion, you have to inform the neighbour, who has a total time limit of eight weeks to get the agreement in place with you.

It normally only takes two to three weeks if all parties are working together well and good will prevails!

There are two forms. One is the party wall notice form, used to formerly give your neighbour notice. The other is the acknowledgement form, which your neighbour has to sign and return, with their choice of a surveyor or not.

The neighbour can't stop you doing the conversion, they just have the right to have any work that would be done to the party wall checked out and an agreement put in place with a party wall surveyor.

Hopefully your neighbour will sign the form and decide to go ahead with out the need for a surveyor. This will save you time and money, so if you can, try to get them to agree to go ahead without a surveyor.

Please click here to download a draft of a Party Wall Notice and acknowledgement.

 

Building regulations

Your plans and structural calculations will be submitted to building control approved inspectors.

They will check and approve the plans in 2 days and send out correspondence to you, keeping you updated with the process.
They will also send you an invoice for their work, as this is not included in our price.

Once the work has started the building inspector will be called to site a few times to check the work with the project manager, so you will be able to stay in touch with the process. We will of course organize everything that is required.

 

Could I do it myself?

DIYers admit to causing cosmetic damage to their property and 5% fail to finish within a year

As we have said elsewhere, we are happy to take the project right to the very end and include bathroom fittings, decorating, and tiling.

At the other end of the scale we are also happy just to do the building work and leave you to finish the job yourself, but we really would only recommend that you do this if you are a qualified practitioner because, even if you are an expert amateur, you may have problems persuading a future buyer that the jobs have been done correctly.

Some people might even contemplate doing the whole thing themselves , but you might like to know that, in a recent survey, 12% of DIYers admit to having caused cosmetic damage to their property's wallpaper or paint work. 10% have damaged the electrical supply or central heating systems, 9% have ruined flooring, and 5% admit to having failed to finish the job within a year.

 

Would it be better to move?

Uncertainty in the housing market means it might be better to sit tight and invest in what you've got.

A few years ago it might have seemed easier just to move to a bigger place, but uncertainty in the post-crunch housing market means that it seems safer to sit it out and see what happens. But that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do.

 

While you're waiting is surely the ideal time to invest in an extension. Whatever your property will be worth when you want to move on, it will be worth more with extra rooms in the loft.

Practicalities

Some reassuring facts

Click on any of the buttons to the
left for more detailed information

Areas where we work

We have a base but we can quite easily work any where in the Greater London area.

We will normally have a loft converted not too far from where you live and will be able to show it to you

So wherever you live please feel free to contact us.

We have shared the joy of thousands of home owners as they move into their new rooms, but we have also shared some of the challenges that are inevitable in any major building project, particular one that usually has to take place whilst the property is occupied.

With you all the way

Fortunately we have been in this business a very long time and are as experienced at guiding and reassuring our clients as we are with the technicalities of completing a loft conversion project on time and on budget.

Honesty from the outset

We have found that It is not helpful to pretend that there will be no inconvenience, but our experience is that there is usually less than many people fear, and things seem much less daunting when you have all the facts.

That's why we have prepared this page to list most of the questions we think you might like to ask, so click any of the arrows to find out more.

But there is no sibstutute for taking things over, so why not just give us a call?

36-38 Old Devonshire Road, London, SW12 9RB

Loft Conversions Home | Introduction | Costs of a loft extension | Examples of Dormers, Mansards, Hip to Gable | Testimonials | Planning Permission and other practicalities
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