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Loft Conversions Question
Loft conversion - structural damage
I would like to have a loft conversion. A concern is:
Suppose after the loft conversion is done, and one or so years down the line structural defects appears in the house or in the neighbour's house, such as deep cracks. Is the loft conversion company liable to come in and repair? And has anyone ever heard of such stories?
The above answer is very good. In terms of simple steps, what you must do is:
1. Get plans drawn up including a structural report.
2. Get a Party wall agreement drafted (templates can be googled or go to your local councils web site) and have this signed by your neighbour(s) if you have a terraced or semi-detached house. Tell your neighbours what you are planning and allow them to air any concerns.
3. Choose a builder carefully as said above. Avoid the following:
- Builders who can't show you previous work.
- Builders who have not been around too long.
- Builders who are willing to do the project or part of the project for cash. If they are willing to risk conning the vat man, they will con you.
4. File a Building notice with your local council, minimum 2 days prior to starting.
5. The project will be certified by Building Control at various stages during the build.
I have never heard of issues as you point out, deep cracks etc, but a loft conversion does change the load bearings in a property, hence the structural report is v. important.
If you do the above, in my experience you will not have problems, loft conversions have been very popular for many years so you are not treading new ground.
MD. Fordham Restoration
Answered 27th Jul 2012
You have a number of issues to consider here.
Firstly, if your property is a terraced or semi detached property, there is potential for The Party Wall etc. Act to apply. Essentially you the homeowner must ensure that any work carried out to the party wall is carried out in such a manner so as to prevent damage to your adjoining owners property. If damage does occur you must pay the cost of rectification which you may or may not be able to claim from you builder.
Secondly, although planning permission may not be required for your loft conversion depending upon the type, Building Regulation approval most certainly is. Building Regulation approval ensures the conversion is carried out correctly in order to comply with current legislation with regards to structure, thermal efficiency, fire risk etc. It is important in all cases that a suitably qualified and insured designer is appointed to prepare a scheme which accounts for all of the above. Some building Companies such as 'Buildwrights' have in house design teams that can provide this service for you. Sometimes this can be very useful as many contractors foresee buildability issues an architect or draughtsperson may miss.
Thirdly, a survey of the existing property should provide an assessment of risk in terms of the additional loads applied to the existing structure. Buildwrights would almost certainly appoint a Structural Engineer as part of the design team to check the design and the impact it may have on the existing building.
Finally and easily the most crucial point is to ensure to employ a most fantastic building company to carry out the work. You really must choose someone you trust implicitly and who has your best interests at heart. They are unlikely to be the cheapest of the bunch but equally good, fair companies are rarely the most expensive either. Check them out in terms of their professional ratings, My builder is good for consumer reviews but what do the Building Inspectors, Structural Engineers and Architects think of the company. Check out the Directors on websites such as Linked In. You are looking for respected professionals that have great reviews from other respected professionals. A great design is very important. But, if it's put together badly you will get problems.
Good luck with your quest. Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.
Joe Smereka ICIOB
Managing Director Buildwrights
Answered 31st May 2012