#ProjectAttic: The Builders Move In

You may remember from previous posts here and here, that we’ve been working on plans to convert our attic space into a new bedroom and small en suite. We live in a semi-detached Victorian house over 130 years old so we do have a loft space, it’s not huge, but with a new dormer on the back it should be a decent size. It’s taken such a long time to get to this point, but finally the builders have arrived and progress is being made.

I thought it would be a good point to update you on what’s happened so far, particularly if this is something you’re thinking of doing in the future. We’ve never tackled anything like this, so it’s all new to us, and worth sharing I think.

Preparation:

attic conversionThe scaffolding went up in a day and naively, I thought the work would crack on immediately. It didn’t happen like that though, and it took another week or so for the builders to arrive and start measuring. There were discrepancies with the plans, so the architect was called and came out for a chat to talk things through. It seems that architect plans are great, but not always possible or practical in some of the details. Plus there was major discussion on what to do with one of the chimneys – it appeared in some drawings and then not others! Anyway, all the initial niggles were sorted and the measurements made. That week, the builders didn’t do too much but started to gather wood, materials and steels. The carpenter started to prepare and tidy the loft space.

I guess it’s worth saying that we haven’t paid the architect to manage the project, which was an option and another £600, but instead will do this ourselves.

Week 2:

Roof into landingThis is when the fun really began and work started in earnest. Within a few days, holes were knocked out of the side wall to make way for the new windows, and more of the flooring was being prepared. Windows were measured and decisions made on how they were going to look. The architect drew some interesting features into the windows (focusing on the Douglas Fir wood that will encase the dormer) but in reality they weren’t practical and we’ve come up with an alternative.

** This is also the week we found an enormous wasps nest and had to call in the pest controller (from the Council and cost £60). Thousands of wasps had been living in the second small attic quietly going about their business. It was time for them to go **

Week 3:

Supporting the ceiling

Open roof spaceBedroom stud wallsIf you live in an old house and have ever pulled down a lath and plaster ceiling, you’ll know the mess they make. Oh yes, this is the week of dust and mess. There were acrows holding up the ceiling in two bedrooms, as ceiling joists were cut and steels were inserted. Then the ceiling came down to make way for the new stairs, and to enable the carpenter to put in the remaining floor joists. The old bedroom wall was knocked down and the new stud walls put up. We’re taking some space from the old bedroom to enable a good space for the new stairs, and so we can use the dormer space for an en-suite.

Some of the roof has also been removed, partly so one of the steels could be positioned correctly. We are open to the elements with chipboard covering the space. A heavy downpour at the weekend, did mean some buckets and sheets to mop up the water. And it’s quite chilly now.

Exposed ceilingThe plumber has also been here discussing radiators, toilets, soil pipes and so on. We’ve made big decisions on the soil pipe and how it will route through the house. The low joists and steels (to give us as much height in the room as possible) means that it can’t run under the floor so needs to go through a lower floor bedroom. It’s a shame (of course it will be boxed in) but it’s a compromise that we’ve had to make.

So, things seem to be rocketing along at the moment, and going well. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

What’s Next?

The builders seem great, easy to work with and considerate of us and the children. They went out of their way to remove acrows from the eldest daughter’s bedroom for example. Maybe they like the fact I put their builder mugs through the dishwasher! Of course, they’re here really early and generally sat outside at 7.30. It takes some organisation to be ready on time, particularly as one child has just started secondary school.

In terms of finances, we haven’t parted with any money yet. I’m anticipating a payment later this week or next week, but that will be our first. Worth knowing that you shouldn’t part with any money up front, and certainly not a substantial amount.

#ProjectAttic is steaming along, more updates soon. The stairs are going in next week and the dormer will be built. At that point I think we’ll really get a feel for how the space will look. Better crack on sourcing wallpaper and cushions then eh?

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7 Comments

  1. Amanda Charteris
    September 17, 2015 / 1:39 pm

    Hi Jen, we are going through the same thing just now with builders and are taking photo’s as we go along. We’ve had a new kitchen put in, the hallway is getting redecorated and sorted out (it’s an old steading we live in) and my office is being converted into a dining room. Oh, and the sitting room is getting a revamp till we can afford to do the extension next Spring! If you want me to share my photo’s of the chaos and the lovely result, let me know, Amanda x

  2. September 17, 2015 / 9:55 pm

    Wow! I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished item. Although I bet it currently feels a long way off!

    • September 18, 2015 / 11:22 am

      Natasha, in my head it’s just next week! 😉 I need to get that feeling under control I think x

  3. September 18, 2015 / 3:15 pm

    Oooh this is so exciting. My dream is to have our attic done and stick another bathroom in there as well as a bedroom. I’m not sure it will ever happen, but a girl can dream. I look forward to your next attic update! x

  4. September 18, 2015 / 6:54 pm

    This all sounds super exciting, (and also a little messy – I know what you mean about the lath and plaster!) can’t wait to see how it all turns out! It certainly looks like a huge amount of work! X

  5. September 27, 2015 / 4:51 pm

    I also would have thought that progress would have been faster. Our convesrion was scheduled to take around 3 weeks though admittedly our conversion is probably smaller than yours Jen.

    Unfortunately our builder let us down as he was meant to start at the beginning of September. We are now deciding whether to start with another builder in a few weeks or wait until next year.

    Anyhow this post is of huge significance to me. 🙂

  6. October 10, 2015 / 4:49 pm

    Hi Jen,
    That looks a challenging project. Oh the stress 🙂

    Great post.

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