We are sometimes asked to resolve the problems homeowners have been left with following some building work. It nearly always involves loft conversions and the story is often similar to this:
Woman sees ad in a newspaper advertising loft conversions. She meets a builder, who seems credible and knowledgeable, he says he can convert the loft for about £10,000. He says she won’t have to worry about a thing as he will arrange all the building consents needed and will not require any money until the work is finished. No plans are provided, but the work proceeds apace. The day comes when the stairs go in and a short time later the client is invited to take a look. Wow, is often the first reaction, because out of a dark, inaccessible space that was only ever seen from the top of a ladder, a bright spacious new room has been created with its ‘interesting’ geometry for walls and windows that flood the room with light. That is probably the pinnacle of the experience for many, as the interesting geometry becomes a challenge when you try to position the furniture or even getting it up there. The sun blazes in and you are surprised by just how effective the sun can be at melting chocolate at 10am in the morning. Of course, the little design issues can be reconciled with the knowledge that you have a new bedroom or study space at a relatively low cost. Then the Building Inspector knocks on the door and it transpires that no application was made, no stage inspections took place, let alone a formal approval. A list of queries from the Local Building Control is received in the post some days later and the builder has disappeared off the radar.
Sometimes the issues can be resolved for a few thousand pounds, but occasionally the only advice that can be given is to remove the stairs and forget the new room and the money. How do you avoid the above? Get it designed before the work starts so you know what you’re getting, and choose a builder that has been recommended by an independent credible source. Loft conversions seldom cost less than £18,000 and often more. A good thorough design process can keep the costs down and make the on site a bit more efficient.