(1) How long is a piece of string :-)
(2) Looking at possibly buying a bungalow and converting the loft.
The joists are 2*4 on about 13" spacing ( standard for older style houses
and bungalows) and so would not be up to current building regs.
I assume from reading various threads over the years that the best way to go
would probably be to have steel beams inserted to provide the main load
bearing structure, and then joist and floor over the steel.
[I am aware that there are other options also]
I know neighbours who have been quoted abot £25k for a full loft conversion
of a similar area on a two storey house.
Does any one have a guide to how much the basic structural work (new load
bearing structure plus stairway) is likely to cost to give me an idea of how
much I can save by DIYing the rest?
Yeah, I know (see question re piece of string) but if someone has done a
similar job and has ball park figures it would give me a start before I
begin involving architects, builders and the like.
Even with the lost space due to new floor and extra insulation I reckon I
should be able to fit in two bedrooms and a shower/toilet. This is withoput
a dormer of any kind.
All very tentative at the moment - weighing up potential and future costs in
buying a detached 2 bedroom bungalow compared to buying a 3 bedroom semi.
"David W.E. Roberts" wrote
| (1) How long is a piece of string :-)
About <waves hands> that long.
Once the structural and roof work is done, the rest of it is usually just
floorboards, plasterboard, wire and plumb.
| (2) Looking at possibly buying a bungalow and converting the loft.
| I know neighbours who have been quoted abot £25k for a full loft
| conversion of a similar area on a two storey house.
If the bungalow is one of a scheme of identical/similar bungalows have a
walk round and see if any neighbours have loft conversions; if several do
then it's a good indication that conversion is possible and economically
viable. If you're brave you could even knock on their door and ask them what
it cost and which builder they used (and look where they put the stairs). If
no-one else has done a loft conversion you might ask yourself why.
People often forget that bungalows have foundations intended for single
storey houses and conversion to a two storey might mean improving the
foundations. Costly and disruptive.
| All very tentative at the moment - weighing up potential and future costs
| in buying a detached 2 bedroom bungalow compared to buying a 3 bedroom
Remember you might lose one of those 2 ground floor bedrooms when you put
the staircase in. But a det bung probably has more ground floor extension
potential than a semi, and with an ageing population ground floor accessible
bedrooms might be in more demand in future.
All sound advice. Also remember that you may well have difficulty obtaining
planning approval. At the very least you need to gto and talk to the
planners about what is, or more importantly is not, likely to be acceptable
Better then to pull the bungalow down and build a 2 or 1.5 floor house, with
high insulation levels and passive solar if a decent south face. It will be
cheaper doing it this way. You will certainly recoup the cost when selling.
Actually, quite a good idea! Radical, but yep, the costings appear
favourable. However, the OP may not be able to get PP for a house.
Another idea: Since bungalows invariably have larger (often MUCH
larger) plots than houses, can the OP not consider an extension
If you are looking to do a self build then yes it is one way to do it.
Having said that, it is one of the more expensive ways since you are
buying a house you don't want, and then paying for a lot of skips to put
The sale price of the new house will be much the same as the converted
old one though. The only difference is the build price will be at least
three times the cost of the conversion. The build being to modern regs
etc does not really have much (if any) impact on the price people will
pay for a house. As mentioned here recently, people will often associate
an older property with a "more solid", and "better built" one (even if
that is not necessarily the case). Hence the older "extended" property
with modernisation (i.e. rewire and new heating, nicely decorated) will
sell as well.
Not a dramatic difference in price either way I would have thought. The
extension may be a little cheaper that a loft conversion once you are
"off the ground", but the ground work will add a large lump to the
costs. (a neighbour is doing just this with a two storey extension
rather than a loft conversion - costs have been roughly equal so far)
Assuming you replace it with something more desirable then I could
believe the first bit - although 99% seems doubtful.
However many loft conversions can be completed for under 25K (or much
less if you DIY). You are not going to demolish and rebuild for that.
Who says? it might be just fine. It may even have real character, and
"period features" that are so sought after...
Loft conversions don't normally need foundation work. If they do, then
it is not an ideal property for conversion in the first place.
You can add "all mod cons" to an older place. As I said - decent
heating, rewire, add an onsuite and utility room perhaps, and a good
many prospective buyers will be more than happy. Lets face it, painting
the outside of a place can vastly increase the chances of selling it -
and adds far more to the value than the cost of doing it. House buyers
(i.e. people) often have hidden shallows!
Suit yourself. Personally if I were buying, the fact that a property is
a "new build" in itself would not be a main purchasing factor. Even if I
could sell the new house for 10K more it is still less return on my
investment than the converted property. (i.e. buy for 150K, knock down
and rebuild for 75K, sell for 250K - net gain 25K Vs. Buy for 150K,
refurb and convert for 30K, sell for 240K, net gain 60K)
I wonder if building regs inspectors thoroughly consider the foundation
aspect when allowing vertical extensions.
The houses on our estate (built 1936/7) have no foundations, just about four
courses of bricks below ground. all the houses are on a hill.
A house behind us is at this moment having its roof removed and a two
bedroom extension built at the rear, it might be extended to the front too
but there's no evidence of that at the moment.
Two adjoined houses at the bottom of our street have also extended upwards
but outwards, to the rear, too. There are good foundations on the new
extension so the whole unit will be more stable than it has been for almost
70 years. But the one behind us is a different story, the houses are all
showing some signs of movement as it is, I can see that one partially
toppling over and taking its neighbour with it.
Surely, if the foundation aspect had thoroughly been investigated there
would have been objections?
On Sun, 11 Jul 2004 16:48:50 +0100, a particular chimpanzee named
The additional loading on most foundations from a loft conversion is
usually minimal compared to what's there already. Unless there is an
arrangement of beams and columns which concentrates a load at a
particular point, the foundations aren't usually checked by the BCO.
Building Control don't "allow" work to be carried out; their role is
to determine whether the work being carried out complies with the
technical requirements of the Building Regulations. I often put it
as, "Planning determine the who, what and where; Building Control
determine the how".
If the existing property is showing signs of movement, that's a matter
that should be addressed _before_ any loft conversion is considered.
One would presume that if the conversion was being paid for by a
secured loan, even a valuation survey would pick it up.
'What you have to ask yourself is,"if no-one on the internet wants a piece of this,
When there ARE foundations! But while the new load of the structure might
not be any greater there'll be a greter face to winds and when the extension
is loaded with furniture and people, possibly storage and the like it will
add to the whole load.
Thanks for that explanation.
I suspect, knowing the family, that there won't be a loan. They're also
doing the work 'in-house'. Very well, I must say, from what I can see.
On Mon, 12 Jul 2004 10:23:57 +0100, a particular chimpanzee named
There are always foundations, by the very definition of the word.
Whether they would be regarded as adequate if a new building was being
built on the same site is another issue. For instance, they may be
bearing on clay at a shallow depth, which means they could be
susceptible to shrinkage, but this wouldn't affect the ground's
The increased loads I mentioned included 'live' or 'imposed' loads for
most domestic floor loads, and the roof loads include a figure for
snow or wind loading. Doing some back of envelope figures for a
typical bungalow, I doubt that the loads on the foundations would
increase by more than 10-15%, well within most structure's factor of
...And maybe not a Building Regulations application?
'What you have to ask yourself is,"if no-one on the internet wants
The "best" way, is to do whatever is necessary to get a supporting
structure for the floor that is "good enough". Depending on the spans
required, you may only need timber joists, if not then perhaps timber
joists with some flitch beams (a pair of joists with a steel plate
bolted between them).
The real cost of said conversion is likely to be more - i.e. if builder
quotes 25K then you can expect the end cost (i.e. by the time you are
all finished and decorated) to be 30K or more. Builders obviously only
take the build as far as finishing the rooms - and tend not to include
the carpets and decorating etc. Also if there is a bath/shower room in
the conversion then they will tend to quote without the cost of the
fittings included since the cost of these will vary greatly depending on
what the buyer wants. Also remember to include the cost of preparatary
work - like in our case removing all the water tanks from the loft
before we started also required a change of boiler.
Just played this game, so I have some numbers to hand. Not sure how
applicable they will be to your situation but they should give you a
ball park. In my case I am adding three new rooms to a three bed semi,
the new floor area is approx 35 sq m. The total cost of the floor
structure (i.e. joists, steel where needed, and fixings etc) was under
1500 for the materials. It took about six days to get it all installed
with two of us working. Contrary to popular belief, this bit is actually
not that difficult to do properly if you have a reasonable loft
structure in the first place. If you have a trussed roof however then it
is far more difficult!
Floor boarding adds say another 200 (for chipboard). Note you may also
need to install some extra sound and fire proofing under the new floor.
Chicken wire and rockwool will normally do it - but don't underestimate
the time it takes to install!
You will need to start with a properly engineered plan (with structural
calculations) to prove the floor design before you start. I got an
architect to draw a full set of plans (570 quid) - having seen them -
and worked out what software package he used for the structural
calculations - I would probably be inclined to do them myself next
time (if there is one!)
Stairs (in a typical loft conversion) would usually be one of the last
items to go in. That way you can isolate much of the work, mess and
noise from the rest of the house. I had various quotes for having a
staircase made up (with two quarter winders) that were in the 800 quid
range. That did not include fitting. In the end I decided to build my
own from scratch. Cost of materials works out about 200 ish - but that
does not include spindles, handrails, snazzy turned newel posts etc
which will cost extra depending on what you want. Took a couple of days
to make, and then another four to get completely installed. (if you can
get away without needing the complicated changes of direction a straight
flight would be much simpler and quicker).
Also don't forget to add the incidental costs like scaffolding (you are
not going to get a 4m long beam up through the loft hatch!). Cost of
full plans submission to the local council was about 264 IIRC yours may
be different (you are unlikely to actually need planning permission -
just building regs approval - but check with your district council or
The floor will add approx 5" - 6" inches from the top of the current
joists. The insulation (if we are talking on a sloping roof section)
will take away as little as 1.5" by the time the plasterboard is on when
you use things like celotex. Note however that you may need to make
changes such as adding soffit and ridge vents to compensate for the loss
of air flow to the roof timbers.
Chances are you will add more value to the house than the cost of doing
it given current property prices - hence why so many people are taking
A neighbour is building an extension to give and extra bedroom from 3 beds
and living space. I said why not move into next door which was 4 beds,
decking a conservatory and all, which was for sale. He worked it out that
with stamp duty, having to do decorations, bits of new kitchen, lights etc,
on house next door, he would save around 20-25K. He is spending 60K on the
2 floor extension, which is 2/3 the size of the existing house, making the
house into an "L". He figured the 60K would at least put 60K on the house
value, going by local estate agents. So, he saves 20-25K, which is akin to
Also, the extension is to their design with large en-suite therapeutic bath,
shower room, walk in wardrobe, etc.
The work did not effect them too much as they closed the rear windows and
door and the extension went up. Only when they broke into the main house
was there some disruption.
On the other hand, some buyers (e.g. me!) will not consider a
"bungalow" that is trying to be a house. When I look for a property
with loft space, that's what I want. A bungalow or a house. If it's a
house I want with enough rooms to fulfil my needs, I won't be looking
at bungalows with no loft space!
Yup I quite understand. I am no fan of "chalet style" properties either.
When buying our house we were offered lots - none of which appealed.
With twenty twenty hindsight I am glad I went for a "proper" two storey
house, since it gave the option of expanding upward now ;-)
Thanks for the most constructive response :-)
Now, to deal with some other responses and flesh out our reasons:
The plot is not particularly large - the floor area is roughly the same as
the ground floor of our current 4/5 bedroom house and the garden is smaller.
The small cul-de-sac has nothing but bungalows on it (all the same design) -
so planning for a new 2 storey property may be an issue.
The asking price is £220k (I am told that a building plot in the area is
worth about £100k). There have been various suggestions about the cost of a
demolish/build so I will assume at least £100k for a good quality 4 bedroom
house with PROPER room sizes - not a modern estate build with no hall or
landing and 8' * 6' 3rd and 4th bedrooms. I assume that this brand new
property would then be worth between £350k and £400k judging by prices of
upmarket detached houses in the area. There is, of course, the cost of
storage of furniture and also accomodation during the demolish/build cycle.
So we spend around £320K (but possibly more depending on size, quality of
fittings etc., cost overruns) to get a good quality 4 bedroom house on a
smaller plot than current, in a slightly less upmarket area, West facing
garden instead of South facing garden. No sun lounge, no balcony, no view of
the sea. Six to 18 months of hassle depending on the bugger factor.
So we could potentially make money - but wouldn't it be better to find a run
down property at a much cheaper price? The demolish/build costs are the same
but you aren't paying for an attractive and well maintained property. We
like this bungalow and want to live in it. We would be paying a premium
compared with a 3 bed semi with more accomodation, much more garden (they
tend to come with 80' to 100' rear gardens) and much more potential for
extension (2 storey extensions are generally more cost effective than single
storey or loft conversions).
I didn't mention our reason for moving house. We are looking to downsize. So
a strategy which involves a major work program to leave us with a similar
house to our current one and no equity release is not top of our agenda :-)
The bungalow is 1930's - which means that it has a huge high loft with real
wood beams and no cheap crap cross braced supports as found in most modern
builds. So there is an obvious potential to make more of this loft area. The
downside is the 2" * 4" joists. Other properties in this street have already
had loft conversions (but no dormers).
There are 4 downstairs rooms (excluding kitchen/bathroom) which really makes
it a 2 bedroom bungalow, although it is currently used as a 3 bedoom
bungalow with a 16' lounge/diner. This would do us fine as a 'mature couple'
but unfortunately we are currently infested with adult super-rugrats (in
urban environments they can grow to 6' 2" or more) and need a minimum of 3
bedrooms until the poisoned bait (my cooking) or the lure of the great blue
yonder clears some space for us.
So I am looking for ways in which a modest outlay (£25k or less) can expand
the accomodation to cope with occasional peaks (Lord help us all if they
ever breed) and still leave us with some cash to spend on ourselves.
We are looking at all properties within our budget and chosen area, but this
is the nicest we can see currently (although a tad overpriced).
So - demolish/build is out.
Extending backwards is a possibility - but to get as much floor area as
convering the loft we would have to increase the size of the property by
50%-75% which would use up a lot of back garden and involve replacing the
garage. Unlikely to cost less than a loft extension.
Anything involving more than £25k is out unless we do it with the aim of a
quick conversion, onward sale, and then look again for a long term home.
Again, if we were looking for property to develop and sell on then we
wouldn't be looking at this one!
Favourite option is to convert the loft at minimum cost, which means maximum
DIY and minimum commercial tradespeople.
Which brings us back to the length of a piece of string.......
Since you want to stay in the property, and the current one is nice, it
sounds like loft conversion could be a good way forward.
That makes it easy...
4x2" is good by comparison to most. Not much of an issue either way
since you can just install a real floor structure beside them - then all
they have to do is hold up the ceiling below.
Chances are you could add a rear dormer without needing PP if you wanted
= depending on the slope of the roof it it can make a huge difference
to the usable floor space (especially if specimins in your rug rat
infestation has grown to be sizeable!)
If you are not hacking the rrof structure about (sans adding some roof
windows) then much / all of it is DIYable if you are feeling brave and
have the time. Getting a decent set of plans drawn up, assistance from a
chippie to put in the floor structure and add the roof windows would
then put you in a position to carry on by yourself for pretty much most
of the rest.
Sticks finger in the air...
6 - 7K would take care of all of the above (depending on floor area and
how esoteric the design of the floor joists needs to be)... another 4 to
5K would see it decorated if you DIY the rest.
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