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Attic Conversion - 3 Bed Mid Terrace

  • 05-01-2018 1:03pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 295 ✭✭ deco72
    Registered User


    Hi,
    I'm currently living in a 3 Bed mid terrace timber frame house. We are considering an attic conversion and wondering if this is possible? Would anyone have any recommendations for builders that would do the job and be able to provide certification of compliance? We want to make sure the job is done correctly with full structural engineer sign off etc. 

    Thanks.


Comments

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 32,022 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Gumbo
    Moderator


    deco72 wrote: »
    Hi,
    I'm currently living in a 3 Bed mid terrace timber frame house. We are considering an attic conversion and wondering if this is possible? Would anyone have any recommendations for builders that would do the job and be able to provide certification of compliance? We want to make sure the job is done correctly with full structural engineer sign off etc. 

    Thanks.

    Get independent structural design and certification.


  • Registered Users Posts: 68,319 ✭✭✭✭ seamus
    Dental Plan!


    The short answer is probably not.

    An attic conversion into a usable room comes with a number of regulatory requirements in regards to access/escape, ceiling height, fire prevention, etc, that basically cannot be met by many of the attics out there. Not without making major structural changes (altering the roof, etc). In a mid-terrace your options for making structural changes are also more limited.

    By all means get someone out to take a look, since your property may be suitable.

    But be wary of the shortcut. A lot of people get a "storage conversion" which is a narrow staircase, some nice floors and panelling and a velux window. The builder will call it a storage conversion, and will not offer anything in the way of certs, but people put beds in there anyway. The regulations aren't there to give some bureaucrat a job, they're there to protect you. If you put one of your kids sleeping in a storage conversion and the house goes on fire, they're going to be in trouble.

    As a spare office for doing a couple of hours' work a week, or a room with a telly when you want to watch a match, maybe. But as a full-time habitable room, it's not worth the risk.


  • Registered Users Posts: 295 ✭✭ deco72
    Registered User


    seamus wrote: »
    The short answer is probably not.

    An attic conversion into a usable room comes with a number of regulatory requirements in regards to access/escape, ceiling height, fire prevention, etc, that basically cannot be met by many of the attics out there. Not without making major structural changes (altering the roof, etc). In a mid-terrace your options for making structural changes are also more limited.

    By all means get someone out to take a look, since your property may be suitable.

    But be wary of the shortcut. A lot of people get a "storage conversion" which is a narrow staircase, some nice floors and panelling and a velux window. The builder will call it a storage conversion, and will not offer anything in the way of certs, but people put beds in there anyway. The regulations aren't there to give some bureaucrat a job, they're there to protect you. If you put one of your kids sleeping in a storage conversion and the house goes on fire, they're going to be in trouble.

    As a spare office for doing a couple of hours' work a week, or a room with a telly when you want to watch a match, maybe. But as a full-time habitable room, it's not worth the risk.

    Thanks for the replies, I have been onto a couple of people so they are due to come out next week so I will hopefully know more then. I will be looking to get a structural engineer to have a look especially as I dont want corners to be cut.


  • Subscribers Posts: 16,437 ✭✭✭✭ copacetic
    .


    seamus wrote: »
    The short answer is probably not.

    An attic conversion into a usable room comes with a number of regulatory requirements in regards to access/escape, ceiling height, fire prevention, etc, that basically cannot be met by many of the attics out there. Not without making major structural changes (altering the roof, etc). In a mid-terrace your options for making structural changes are also more limited.

    By all means get someone out to take a look, since your property may be suitable.

    But be wary of the shortcut. A lot of people get a "storage conversion" which is a narrow staircase, some nice floors and panelling and a velux window. The builder will call it a storage conversion, and will not offer anything in the way of certs, but people put beds in there anyway. The regulations aren't there to give some bureaucrat a job, they're there to protect you. If you put one of your kids sleeping in a storage conversion and the house goes on fire, they're going to be in trouble.

    As a spare office for doing a couple of hours' work a week, or a room with a telly when you want to watch a match, maybe. But as a full-time habitable room, it's not worth the risk.

    Most reputable 'storage' conversions now are perfectly safe and meet all regulations, but can't be called a bedroom due to the height of the room, no other reason. They would be fully certified for fire etc. The height restriction definition pretty much rules out 99% of attics from being called bedrooms. Any attic can meet escape, fire safety etc, width of access etc. it's only the height that is usually impossible.

    We have a terrace also, and it's perfect for conversion as you normally have a full width pitch. We prepped floors/joists and moved tanks etc during a refurb and will do it down the line.

    For the OP the main issues will be loss of space on 2nd floor for the stairs up, the cost of doing it properly etc and the loss of height in attic itself if need to raise floor as well as insulate eaves, can leave you less room than you think.


  • Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators Posts: 10,101 Mod ✭✭✭✭ BryanF
    Moderator


    copacetic wrote: »
    Most reputable 'storage' conversions now are perfectly safe and meet all regulations.
    I’m all for builders doing a d&b on small jobs, but as regards knowing regs, I’ve yet to be convinced.


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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 32,022 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Gumbo
    Moderator


    BryanF wrote: »
    I’m all for builders doing a d&b on small jobs, but as regards knowing regs, I’ve yet to be convinced.

    +1

    I was on about 30 attic conversions in 2017. Every one of them a design and build by a small contractor, or one man band type of operation.

    Not one, and I mean that, not one passed the inspection, there was something wrong on every one of them. And I’m not talking about habitable status.

    I’m talking about no new floor structure, beams pocketed into party walls, not escape windows, no fire doors, no detection extension, badly installed insulation, poor workmanship etc etc


  • Subscribers Posts: 16,437 ✭✭✭✭ copacetic
    .


    kceire wrote: »
    +1

    I was on about 30 attic conversions in 2017. Every one of them a design and build by a small contractor, or one man band type of operation.

    Not one, and I mean that, not one passed the inspection, there was something wrong on every one of them. And I’m not talking about habitable status.

    I’m talking about no new floor structure, beams pocketed into party walls, not escape windows, no fire doors, no detection extension, badly installed insulation, poor workmanship etc etc

    In fairness I wouldn’t class a one man band operation as capable of a reputable conversion in general. They probably all charged half what it should actually cost. The windows, fire doors, detection extension especially is scary.


  • Registered Users Posts: 295 ✭✭ deco72
    Registered User


    copacetic wrote: »
    seamus wrote: »
    The short answer is probably not.

    An attic conversion into a usable room comes with a number of regulatory requirements in regards to access/escape, ceiling height, fire prevention, etc, that basically cannot be met by many of the attics out there. Not without making major structural changes (altering the roof, etc). In a mid-terrace your options for making structural changes are also more limited.

    By all means get someone out to take a look, since your property may be suitable.

    But be wary of the shortcut. A lot of people get a "storage conversion" which is a narrow staircase, some nice floors and panelling and a velux window. The builder will call it a storage conversion, and will not offer anything in the way of certs, but people put beds in there anyway. The regulations aren't there to give some bureaucrat a job, they're there to protect you. If you put one of your kids sleeping in a storage conversion and the house goes on fire, they're going to be in trouble.

    As a spare office for doing a couple of hours' work a week, or a room with a telly when you want to watch a match, maybe. But as a full-time habitable room, it's not worth the risk.

    Most reputable 'storage' conversions now are perfectly safe and meet all regulations, but can't be called a bedroom due to the height of the room, no other reason. They would be fully certified for fire etc. The height restriction definition pretty much rules out 99% of attics from being called bedrooms. Any attic can meet escape, fire safety etc, width of access etc. it's only the height that is usually impossible.

    We have a terrace also, and it's perfect for conversion as you normally have a full width pitch. We prepped floors/joists and moved tanks etc during a refurb and will do it down the line.

    For the OP the main issues will be loss of space on 2nd floor for the stairs up, the cost of doing it properly etc and the loss of height in attic itself if need to raise floor as well as insulate eaves, can leave you less room than you think.
    I think the main concern for us at the minute is how do we support the attic floor giving we are a timber framed terraced house. Some people are saying that steel will not work however others are saying it will, so it gets quite confusing. Hopefully we will find out more over the next week or so. 
    With regards to space we have enough room to construct a new full set of stairs into the attic space and the height in our attic space is very high so even if we had to raise the floors due to heat recovery systems piping or insulation we should be fine.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 32,022 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Gumbo
    Moderator


    deco72 wrote: »
    I think the main concern for us at the minute is how do we support the attic floor giving we are a timber framed terraced house. Some people are saying that steel will not work however others are saying it will, so it gets quite confusing. Hopefully we will find out more over the next week or so. 
    With regards to space we have enough room to construct a new full set of stairs into the attic space and the height in our attic space is very high so even if we had to raise the floors due to heat recovery systems piping or insulation we should be fine.

    Basically, a new timber structure can be built and connected to the existing timber structure using the wall plates and/or existing rafters and joists.

    Your Engineer will detail the layout.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,991 ✭✭✭✭ Calahonda52
    Registered User


    http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/BuildingStandards/FileDownLoad,1657,en.pdf

    The big issue with steel in a terraced house is access.
    In a TF house the roof trusses are usually pre-fabbed with lots of truss webs, with web runners and bottom cord runners added on site which are essential to the structural integrity of the roof so perhaps some pictures of the attic as is


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2 graham38
    Registered User


    Sorry if this is a little off topic, but I was wondering if anyone here had experience in removing old king trusses, by re-enforcing the roof first obviously, then cutting out the old one's? The house was built over 120 years ago so there is two big trusses holding the whole shaboozle up, basically they are the type that sit on the front and back walls, I can provide a photo of these tomorrow if it helps? I need to get rid of them because when the old ceiling is lowered and become the new floor, the bottom of the trusses will be at chest height (the old ceiling is being dropped nearly 4 foot to become the new floor) Any info or ideas will be appreciated.


  • Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators Posts: 10,101 Mod ✭✭✭✭ BryanF
    Moderator


    graham38 wrote: »
    Sorry if this is a little off topic, but I was wondering if anyone here had experience in removing old king trusses, by re-enforcing the roof first obviously, then cutting out the old one's? The house was built over 120 years ago so there is two big trusses holding the whole shaboozle up, basically they are the type that sit on the front and back walls, I can provide a photo of these tomorrow if it helps? I need to get rid of them because when the old ceiling is lowered and become the new floor, the bottom of the trusses will be at chest height (the old ceiling is being dropped nearly 4 foot to become the new floor) Any info or ideas will be appreciated.

    We can’t offer structural advice. Anything is possible if properly designed


  • Registered Users Posts: 2 graham38
    Registered User


    No worries, I guess it's time to call in an engineer for a look, thanks anyways.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3 Cosmos99


    Hi deco72, could you tell how this went? Were you able to get a structural engineer look at this and were you able to convert the attic? I'm in a similar situation and would like to know, thank you!



  • Registered Users Posts: 295 ✭✭ deco72
    Registered User


    Yeah we were able to get the attic done, didn’t like the builders doing the job but in the end it worked out. Our stairs are quite tight and steep but this is also due to making space for an en-suite in the attic. The room has been used daily for working from home and my oldest kid uses it for having sleepovers etc. apart from that it’s mainly a spare room when needed. We got an engineer to sign off and got the building regs compliance signed off too.



  • Registered Users Posts: 2 tekwhiz
    Registered User


    Hi @deco72

    Would you be able to share how the builder was able to support the weight of the roof and also the weight of the new floor that went in? Interested in doing the same thing as you have done but hard to see how I can take the load from the roof with now block walls for a purlin..

    Cheers



  • Registered Users Posts: 591 ✭✭✭ C. Eastwood
    Registered User


    tekehiz

    The loads from the rafters are presently carrier by the Purlins which are presently supported by the load bearing centre wall. Before the Struts are removed the rafters must either be supported by the centre wall and the front and back walls. Or can be supported by the gables.

    These supports Must be designed by an engineer.



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