Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I'll catch up on the following

Sun tunnel fitted, I did finish the one in the bath room but not taken pictures yet. All ish the floor joists in, rock wool down, Stud wall frame -crazy angles. Insulation ordered. Screwfix order arriving tommorow so crack on with first fix electrics.

Which reminds me, I rewired all the upstairs lights so the cables aren't going under the new floor.

The start of some serious household disruption

The Loft conversion makes it's grand entrance in to the rest of the house.
Breaking through, Now everyone can see what I'm upto

Top of the old airing cupboard

Trimmed ceiling joists and wall hanger

The timber work for the staircase opening is simple, two 200 x 50 screwed together one end resting on the inner wall the other on the a joist hanger on the steel beam. The other side of the opening rests on a masonry joist hanger in to the party wall. A 9" angle grinder with diamond blade cut just deep enough to get this in without having to take a brick out. This also trims the ceiling joist, screwed timber to timber reiforced with angle brackets.

Then came the fun part, knocking the rest of the ceiling down. It only took about 20mins but the clearing up after took 3 hours and I should have given Wendy some advanced warning. I've also noticed it's getting colder of an evening now and there's no insulation.

Welding Loft Joist Hangers to the beams

This is a loft conversion question that seems to asked alot. How to hang the joists off Steels, (rsj's). Well this way is probably unique.
The normal way is to fix timber to beams first. But I've got a welder!
Joist hangers Welded on beam

This was a job I wanted to make sure the building inspector wasn't going to grumble about. I had spec these to welded on the draws that were passed but I'd changed the design from the original being on a standard UB.

So make them twice as strong. I first welded two hangers together, plug welding through all the nail holes. Then drilled 3 12mm holes in each leg. Then the tricky task of getting the levels right, the lazer level came in handy with a slight adjustment for the slope of the not so acurate Victorian ceiling heights. I had to get the new floor joist as close to the old ceiling as I could allowing about 5mm minimum for deflection. With that sorted the it went well after intially trying stick welding for the extra power and giving up because the power blew away the hangers. The MIG did the job nicely, plug welding through the big holes with good penertration into the beam .

So Hangers On time for some more timber.

Sun tunnel hole -velux

Sun tunnel hole looking down
sun tunnel hole looking up

With the rest of the loft conversion moving along slowly but steadily, I want a job I could quickly see the results. I also wanted to finish the floor in the storage area so the first sun tunnel had to fitted. First I reinforced the ceiling, it being old plaster it would have crumbled away when I touched it with the jigsaw. Half an inch of plaster with the wire mesh in the middle did the trick. I couldn't avoid having to trim the ceiling joist as the tube would not fit inbetween and I wanted to position it exactly over the sink.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Tradesmen, to gripe or not?

I don't know if I've got a good deal from the roofers.
They finish the roof barring pointing up to the slates on one of the gables, they where going to quote for the pointing both gable ends. However they left site leaving some scafolding in the front garden.
The breather mebrane is holed in some places and badly fixed also full of slate chippings in parts.
The woodwork around veluxs is shody (certainly not up to my standard and not like the pictures in the fitting instructions)
The wooden gutting at the front of the house and now fallen off, and plastic guttering round the back has a chunck out.
On the plus side, I've not had any leaks and I've still got a £1000 retainer. I think I'll just wait to see if they want there scaffold tower and money before I make my mind up to gripe.

Back to it

After a short period with no progress I'm back on the job. But first to update on my reminders.

The bike sailed through its MOT after replacing the rear wheel bearings.

I manged to fix Emma's laptop it was blown power board, I couldn't belive how many screws held it together so I didn't but them all back in.

We sorted the new property out in time for the tenants moving in. It was hard work for a few weeks but well worth it as the tenants could be stopping there for a many years.

We completed on another whilst we were on holiday, this needs little more than a clean and tidy up. The first prospective tenant to see it has snapped it up so no worries on that score.

Tax return sorted and sent, outside toilet fixed, our shared trailer rebuilt (another action packed party excuse, need to set a date for the painting party) and the end of the school holidays.

Which now brings me back to the loft conversion.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Roof on in time for the floods

Luckily the roofers manged to finish and get everything water tight before the sky fell in.
The last part was to fit the ridges. To comply with the Regs we needed a continuous vented ridge. This is to allow vapour that can form between the slates and insulation to escape without rooting the slats and rafters. I had originally thought we end up with a modern ridge but after seeing how the system works I realised we could recycle the old ridge.
The system comprises of corogated strip that sits under the ridges and on the slates, lifting them up a little and allowing the ventilation. The ridges are screwed down on to the ridge board using clamps and a strip between them to stop water coming in. A simple system that works well with modern ridges. The ridges we have are 'roll top' which is like a tube along the top. The clamps had too be modified to fit in to the tube and longer stainless steel screws sourced. The ridge board had to packed up with slats giving enough wood for the screws. These were too high on the first ridge and so had to re-done.
The result is a ridge that look right, apart from the gap slight gap between them. Some morta or a thick bead of silicon could sort this.
A slight set back to this job was when the roofers foot came through on the neighbours side of the ridge. He survived the the accident but not the embarassment, the others made sure of that. It was quickly fixed, so no harm done.

Friday, June 22, 2007

More Reminders

Sold Chalet, New house workload, Laptop fix. Mot Bike

I was itching for something to get my teeth into a few weeks back and ended up building a tardis. Now there seems like a million and one jobs come at once. Oh Well busy, busy, it'll all be done in a month or three. I'll have to have some more hours in the day.
But it's my birthday on Sunday so some beer and friends and family followed by two days proper paid for work and back into it Wednesday. When I'll get chance to put some more on here I don't know.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Reminder to self

roof nearly finshed, ridges recycling, redo first ridge, ceiling colapse, elephant on roof and inevitable consequences, first stuctural timber and beams, wewiring, chimney bought, stone mulioned windows spotted. Another house to work on.

Loft conversion Fire Separation Wall - Stage One

This was a hot and sweaty job but satisfying because the progress is rapid and visable. Carrying the blocks up from the garden is a job I've been spreading out. Taking a couple up everytime I'm passing that way, not carrying anything else, and if I remember. Iv'e shifted about 100 so far so only anther 50 to go. It was a hot weekend when I built this first bit to the offshot and it gets hot up there however the sweat dripping into the mortar kept it workable. Carrying the full buckets of mortar up is bit arm streaching but using the large blocks 450 x 230 x 75mm means I didn't have too many to lug up.

Nothing special about the wall. However I did put cardboard down on the neigbours side, as promised, to break the fall of any blocks I might have dropped and to catch mortar droppings. I'll remove these from the neighbours side when required.

The blocks are lightweight (not so light when soaking wet) aerated concrete, they are easily cut with a saw. I used a bow saw, the blade is no good for wood now but is still cutting the blocks.

Between the blocks and slates I've packed rockwool flexi slab, this I believe is up to spec.

Velux Windows for loft conversion

The twin velux, yes I know the picture is on its side, so use your imagination or turn your head. The Purlin across the middle will be going after I've built the supporting wall off the steel. The best price I found for Velux products was from Travis Perkins (dont bother with the website though, I found it infuriating more than informative, the staff at the local branch where helpful and keen).

All 4 Velux are now in. There are three big ones, one of which is is the "means of escape" MOE. this one had to be no more than 1.7m from the eave to allow the escapee to reach the top of a ladder (building regs). The one above it is fitted as close as possible with a "duo flashing kit" the height of this top one is matched with the third large velux on the other side of the roof. Again I'm sure I would have done a better job of the joinery for these but they look solid enough. I will have to adjust some of the timber to make sure everything is looking as square as can be, before plaster boarding. The fitting of the membrane around these also leaves a lot to desired, the persistent rain has has highlighted the deficiencies.

The last velux goes over the landing to the stairs. Originally this was fitted a couple of inches out. It had to be moved or I wouldn't have been able to open the window after I've built the rest of the fire separation wall and fitted the insulation.

Having the windows in give a feel of what the room will eventually become. It also gives a fantastic view of the thunder storms coming in before I had to run round with the buckets again.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Loft conversion - Steels, UB not, PFC actually , RSJ's lifted and installed

Steel beams for the loft conversion

the big steel

shorter steel also showing the two wooden purlins

End view showing the section

Well what a relief when these where in, with no damage and no slip ups.

I would have photographed them going up but the technique was so far from a recognised safe method I don't think I would have been thanked for it.

They gave me a price and did the job and I'm not complaining. I did offer plan B but plan A worked. I'll not describe the method in detail for fear of it sounding like a recommendation but it involved a flatbed truck, a wobbly scaffold tower, the proper scaffolding, two ladders and some planks. Not forgetting some coordinated grunting and some extra strong tea before and after.
Once up there positioning, levels and bricking was easy.
The Steels are resting on class A engineering bricks with slate packers. A compromise was made to the squareness of the room to try and keep the Ashlar (I think that's the right word) or knee walls looking OK. It's no good try to get everything straight and square in these houses because it will always look wrong.

I had asked for extra care with the steel on to the party wall, and got it, so no problems there.
The steel beams where specified by a structural engineer- 230 x 90 x 32kg/m PFC one off clear span 4.9m and the other 3.8m The loading on it will be the floor and the roof via a structural stud wall, the top purlin will be coming out.

Sun Tunnels

A what? Is the normal response. Sun tunnels are like a small roof light from the outside but on the inside a reflective tunnel is fitted to take the light down through the ceiling below.

As I've had to fit closers to all the doors to the escape route (for building regulations) the landing is dark all day. the other one is going into the bathroom which has never had a window.
I'll show progress on these as it happens and take some pictures to show the difference it makes. I do hope it will be worth it.

Rain Stops Play and Starts Coming In

Its been chucking it down all day and last night. A few leaks which doesn't surprise me, the breather membrane is ripped in parts and not accurately fitted on some of the tricky parts. I've used a much higher quality variety in the past on my garage roof that was virtually unripable and would have happily paid a bit more for some similar. I would have fitted it myself with much more care and attention but hayho, I'm paying for tradesmen.
Various receptacles have dealt with most (roofer says he'll patch these later from the inside) . Although they weren't on the job today due to weather I had to call them out to sort out one bit. The membrane on part was straight in to the guttering at one point and was pooling, unfortunately at this point there was a hole. The water dripped on to inside of eaves, down the cavity and out around the window frame below. I think it should dry out OK with no damage done. The Roofer came out and sorted it so finger crossed.
I should also mention the point of ingress, the membrane does let water seep through where it is over the rafters. This isn't a problem where the slates are up to the apex even though the ridge isn't on yet but where there are no tiles it does build up and run down and drip randomly.

With more rain due tonight and tomorrow I'm really hoping nothing deteriorates.

A Week With Progress

So much for me keeping up to date with this. Now I've got to remember whats happened over the last 8 days.

In brief , What the roofers have done - the Sun tunnels went in OK , the steels went in OK whoopee, the 3 large velux OKish and lots more slating completed

What I've done - more wire meshing drudge, more cleaning up drudge, Fire wall to off-shot built almost fun with visable progress.

I'll detail later with pics.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pictures clean up and ceiling fire proofing

Cleaning up between the rafters with dust pan and brush to start with. Really good dust mask required.

25mm chicken wire fitted, a labourious job that tends to fray my fingers. I used an electric stapler to hold it in place. Cheapest supplier I found for the chicken wire was : www.meshdirect.co.uk I ordered 3 rolls 900mm wide by 25m for £70.50

I built a storage platform 100mm above the rafters, giving room for a bit more insulation. Somewhere to keep that stuff that we can'nt bear to chuck, someday it when we might have 'Cash in the Attic". You can also see the recycled insulation at the back giving us a total of about 450mm. I'm slowly bringing up the lightweight concrete blocks up to build the fire separation wall on the left.
Rockwool Flexislab after delivery filling the garage. Sourced from www.buildingmaterialsdirect.com again best price I found and helpful salesperson. 18 packs of 100 x 400 £322.75 inc vat.

Main roof space, again wire mesh and Rockwool Flexi Slab down to the eaves. Also showing the ceiling cross member refitted back from where the UB is going the vertical supports are bolted to to the roof rafters giving additional strengthening to the old storage floor.

The stage we're at June 2007

It's all systems go at the moment. The roofers are here, all the old slates stripped off, re felted with breathable membrane, slatted and sun tunnels going in. The Velux windows are piled up in the hall waiting to be fitted and the steel UB's (RSJs in old money) should be arriving today. The roofers have been as good as expected so far although they have miss calculated the openings for the velux and will have to correct this to get the means of escape low enough to comply with the regs.
I asked the roofing company to install the UB's as the longest is 5.2m and weighs 160kg, they recon they can do it and so they've got the job. I have worked out way I can do it from the inside as a plan B. I'm apprehensive about this part of the works, getting it up there, man handling into position, and fitting in to the party wall, there plenty of scope for things to go wrong. I'll be glad when they are in.
Prior to the roofer starting I've been cleaning up the 50mm of accumulated dust and debris from between the ceiling rafters. This job is a nightmare, the dust is 75% black soot I get hot and sweaty, down at the eaves I've got 18" of space to work in so its a long, uncomfortable, slog. I've also never had so many showers in a week. One thing that make this a little easier is the vacuum machine I invented a while back. I could explain this in another post, but for now I'll just mention that that Dysons do loose suction power especially when they blow up so Im now running on Kirby power which is working well.
After the cleaning up and shifting of 15 rubble sacks of dust, oh and all the old unrecyclable insulation, I've been fitting chicken wire over the the ceiling rafters and the latte and plaster ceiling. This is a requirement of building regs to hold up the Rockwool flexi slabs that have to be put down to get the half hour fire resistance. I've done this on the offshot part of the roof and up the eaves on the rest of the roof. I need to get the wire meshing as far as where the UB's are going to be tonight.
The pictures I'm going to post will show this in more detail.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Loft Conversion -Some History and why we are doing it

We bought the house, an 1880's semi twelve years ago and came up with a 15 year plan for everything we wanted to do. The loft conversion was has always featured but was always going to be way down the list. The house started as 3 bedroom but with our 3rd child on the way I split one room up and but the bathroom in half of it. When child number 4 came along the two eldest girls had to share. So now we have two teenage daughters sharing. Workable but not ideal. They are good most of the time but WW3 breaks out when something goes missing or gets borrowed, or the responsibility for the festering pile of clothes/shoes is in dispute.
The original plan was for me to use the attic room as an office/studio/guest room therefore freeing up the downstairs study to be used as second living room. I did fantasize about being able to set a stereo up in a proper listening room but I've given up hope of that when the plan didn't get royal assent. I've recently set up a decent system in the garage, but that's another story.
So the mine and the mouses plan is to let the eldest have the attic room until they leave the nest. Fingers crossed the eldest will fly to university in a couple years and the youngest in about 12.
Yes I know, we wont need the extra room in a couple of years so whats the point?
  • I said I would/could do it, so I will.
  • The appeal of an attic room is too much for me resist. Resistance is not an option against the combined forces of a wife and four children.
  • We need a new roof anyway so why not put the velux in at the same time and "it'll not take two minutes" to do the rest.
  • When we married nearly two years ago we asked for contributions to our spiral stair fund as wedding presents.
So this project had passed the point of no return a while back.

In the begining

I've finally taken the plunge and started a blog. The basic idea is to record the progress of our loft conversion and hopefully provide a resource for others who might consider doing the same. Its been many years in the planning and research stage and now work is underway.
I have limited funds so just getting someone in to do it all isn't an option, I'm also the kind of person who likes a challange and will try anything once. I'd descibe myself as an advanced DIYer, who likes to get things right and usually does.

I'll back track in a later posts to fill in what has already happened and how we've got to this point.

As this is me first ever blog I'll have to see how thing work and set myself some ground rules.
1. Rambling on is OK
2. Grammar and spelling is not a concern, my dyslexia isn't going to put me off
2.5 Structure is of little importance
3. Side tracks are desirable
4. Any rules are my rules and can be changed at will

So first post complete I'll see how long it takes to get some more done.