News Article

Safety in your Loft Conversion

04.04.12

A recent fire in a Nottinghamshire home has highlighted the safety aspect of loft conversions. The resident had converted the loft himself into an additional bedroom and its hatch was too small for fire-fighters to access it with their equipment.

Safety must be paramount in any loft conversion, London or country wide. That’s why it is important to get a specialist loft conversion company to do the work. It’s also one of the reasons that every loft conversion must meet building regulation standards, which also cover things like insulation and ventilation. A building control officer must be invited to inspect a number of key stages of the work.

Safety Aspects of Building Regulations

The risk of fire is only one aspect of loft conversion safety. Structural stability is also important. You can’t just add flooring without installing new ceiling joists. Your loft conversion might also need new steel beams to support the ceiling joists. All joists and load-bearing walls must be strong enough to support the weight of people and furniture in the beautiful new rooms in your loft.

In case of fire, your loft must be built with at least 30 minutes fire resistance, with a fire escape corridor to get people out. That means a fire door at the top or bottom of the stairs to access the loft. It can only be at the top of your loft stairs if they run directly over the current stairway of the house. Otherwise the fire door has to be fitted at the bottom of the loft staircase.

Once all the building work on your loft conversion is finished, the building control officer will make a final inspection and issue a certificate of compliance with building regulation standards. Guard this well. You’ll need it if you ever want to sell your house. It proves that your loft conversion is safe for use as extra living space.

Where the Responsibility Lies

If you want to add value to your home, as well as adding space, you can do it with either an extension or a loft conversion. London residents are increasingly choosing the latter, because they don’t have enough space outside for an extension, or sometimes because the building work will be less disruptive.

But if they don’t use a reputable loft conversion company where the builders know what they are doing, they could be in trouble. Most such companies will deal with the building control officers for them, but it is the householder’s responsibility to see that building regulations are followed. If they are found to be in contravention, they can be taken to court and risk the imposition of heavy fines, as well as having to pay for the loft conversion to be demolished.

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