A Complete Online Guide to Renovating Your Loft Area Safely and Professionally
When it’s time to renovate your loft, you can hire someone or you can do it yourself. If you are a bit handy, then doing the renovation yourself might be the best bet. Many do-it-yourselfers find that renovating a loft space can be done safely and professionally without the rigamarole of finding a contractor and hoping that contractor does what is supposed to be done.
The key to successfully renovating a loft is to know and follow steps that have proven to work for previous loft renovations. This guide will help you succeed and you can read more here about how to get the job done right, the first time.
Get a permit or not?
Most renovations, especially those that are changing the footprint of a structure, require a permit. Since lofts have established footprints that cannot usually be changed, you might not need a permit. To be on the safe side, it is wise to check with your planning commission to find out if you need a permit before you make any changes. Do know that you will most likely have to pay a fee if you do need a permit for your renovation.
If you are doing any type of conversion in your loft, then you might need a special type permit. You might also need to let your neighbors know you are making renovations if you have common walls.
Designing the renovation
After you’ve learned whether or not you need permits, the next step is to design the renovation. This is where you might want to hire a professional, either an architect or a design contractor, especially if you are planning on some major renovations. With a professional design specialist, you can be sure that the structure can support your desired changes.
A professional designer or architect will understand how to work with the permits and planning groups. If your design ideas are elaborate, you might want to hire a company to both design and make the renovations. Both types of designers charge fees. If you do hire a company to do the entire renovation, you might find that your ideas will be put to the side in favor of standardized designs.
If you are good with geometry and you have an eye for design, you could plan the renovation yourself. This can be safely done with the aid of a building engineer who can help you find the weight-bearing structures of your loft.
When to consider insurance
Insurance is one of those things that no one likes to buy until it is actually needed. If you are serving as the general contractor for the renovation, you should consider insurance to cover the renovation. If anything happens to your loft, especially between shared walls, having insurance will give you the financial and legal security you need. There are different types of insurance you can get while you are renovating your loft and your insurance agent should be able to help you or direct you to someone who can.
Consider fire safety while renovating
It may not be the sexy part of renovating, but your loft needs to be fire safe. There are several standards that are required for any new build or renovation. The safety requirements are based on the storeys and the structural elements of your building. If your loft is on the first floor, you must have egress windows in all habitable rooms, except bathrooms.
Lofts that are on the second or third floor have more safety requirements that can become rather complicated for the inexperienced renovator. The requirements involve staircase enclosures and sprinkler systems. If you are installing new floor joists, you will need to be sure they meet fire safety requirements and new doors also need to meet requirements. Smoke alarms should also be installed so they all go off when one is tripped. They should be wired to the electrical system and have back-up batteries.
The guts of the space
Another important consideration for any renovation is what is behind the walls and under the floors. The ventilation and plumbing should not be neglected, especially if you are doing the renovation safely and professionally.
If your loft includes the underside of the roof, you will need to have the right type of ventilation system to prevent a buildup of moisture and to keep the air quality at a safe level. There are several different types of systems that can keep aloft properly ventilated. Bathroom ventilation needs to be considered and possibly updated, too. Your architect, designer, or building engineer should be able to assist with this.
Upgrading to efficient heating
If you have to add heat, there are options that don’t have to cost a fortune. Instead of adding a boiler, consider choices like radiators and radiant underfloor heating. Even though they use electricity, they are eco-friendly. To add even more efficiency to the heating of your loft, you should also add insulation, especially if the walls have to be opened. Don’t forget about adding proper venting, especially if you are on the top floor.
Hire a plumber for kitchen and bath renovations
Since many remodeling projects involve kitchens and/or bathrooms, you will need to hire a plumber. The best choice for plumbing projects is to hire a licensed, professional plumber. Fortunately, plumbers will know how to best use the available space, as well as the space that you cannot see - like the floor joists.
Brighten up space with more light
There are other exciting renovations that add value and style to a loft. No matter what you do add, be sure that you meet size requirements. Adding stairs and windows are generally easy renovations that look good and are cost effective. Rooflights can brighten up space and dormer windows will open the space. If stairs and windows are not a realistic option, then you can always look into adding new light fixtures to brighten your space. Select light fixtures that fit the shape of your loft, like track lights for the ceiling and task lighting for under kitchen cabinets.