Loft conversion.. . .take out staircase? (don't laugh!!)

16 Aug 2006
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United Kingdom
Guys, your advice would be very much appreciated. Sorry (in advance) for the essay!!.

We’ve only been in the house for around six months but we have unfortunately got the kind of neighbours I thought were made up for telly!!! Hence we are going to look for something else. We aren’t greedy in any way but whatever we get for the house for is going to be ported onto another property as we cannot raise any more cash so every pound, shilling and pence is crucial.

The previous owner of our house had a loft conversion without consent but we acquired the house as it was in our price range (just!!) with indemnity insurance. The loft has an enclosed fixed staircase, spotlights, sockets, 2 velux windows and generally is a very nice looking room. Having had an informal chat with our building control officer re. regularisation he put me on to a structural surveyor/ architect he works alongside on many projects for his advice.

I’ve paraphrased the surveyor’s observations below:

1. The velux windows have been installed between the purlins, hence they higher than the maximum distance allowed for means of escape and also too far away from the eaves of the roof.

2. The insulation is squashed tight between the rafters and the plasterboard, hence no 50mm gap. It is also doubtful whether the current insulation will provide sufficient thermal u-value.

3. The wall coverings appear to be one layer 9.55mm plasterboard and skim finish and also a section of 10mm MDF, neither of which give the 1 hour fire protection required.

4. There are no mains wired smoke detectors present (although there’s battery powered ones at the top of the loft staircase, on the landing and in the hallway on the ground floor).

5. Some structural steelwork has been installed in the roof and it appears that th floor joists have been increased in depth. Calculations will be required to prove their integrity.

6. Fire doors/ automatic closures needed on doors off stairs.

The above are the main points of non-compliance and further items of work carried out may prove to fail building regulations approval!!! He has spoken informally to the head of building control and sees no way of acquiring a certificate of regularisation and suggest placing a new full plans submission as though starting from scratch with the work estimated at around 8k. There’s no way we can afford anything like that at the moment and I had planned to get the regularisation done over time, so I’m lost as what to do.

This may well be a strange question but is there any way we could take out the fixed staircase, return the loft to ladder access via the hatch and claim it is for storage even though it has 2 velux windows installed etc. etc.??

If the staircase goes (it’s situated in the second bedroom at the mo so a stud partition was having to be put in anyway to give the bedroom it’s own private access) I could stud partition halfway across the room instead as it has 2 windows in there and create two 10 feet by 8 feet ‘ish’ rooms, thus giving us a three bedroomed house to market. I daren’t go to building control and ask about partitioning the room with the loft situation as it is.

Any advice would be great but most of all be gentle as I’m a first time caller!!

Kind Regards
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Just dont advertise the room as habitable when selling. I think estate agents call it an "occasional room", if you talk to your estate agent and explain the problem they can pass that on to potential buyers.

But might be worth thinking about spending the 8k because an extra room may add from 10k to 30k onto your property price depending on area etc.
Thank you ever so much for your reply static, much appreciated my friend. We haven't got too much money to play with at the mo so even though an 8k investment would seem sensible when it might add 10-15k to the value we simply can't afford it. With my wife being so unhappy here due to the neighbours we need to get sorted relatively quickly and our worry is whether a buyer would be put off by the lack of consent before the conversion.

That's why I toyed with the idea of taking the staircase away and turning the large bedroom into 2 rooms to generate the third genuine bedroom that buyers generally want, particularly as these houses are family sized houses rather than straight first time buyer houses, who wouldn't neccesarily need a third bedroom right now.

Sorry for going on bit but should I completely rule this line of thought out and just market it as we acquired it or is there any chance of us citing the loft for storage and adding the third room via stud partition thus adding a little bit of value which will help with the purchase of a different property?

Kind Regards once again
Splitting up rooms rarely ever adds value. Your best bet is to get a local estate agent round to value the property as it stands, then ask them what they think would help sell it. You may well be suprised that they say nothing as summer time the market is normally stronger.
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Thank you again for your reply static.

I'll get everything ready and get a valuation done. Maybe I've unintentionally mislead a bit re. splitting the room into two. The loft staircase runs down the outside wall of the 20' by 10' (12' into recess) bedroom and I need to put in a stud wall so the staircase isn't actually in the bedroom, thus making the room around 14' by 10' when the wall is in situ. If the staircase wasn't there I could install the partition a couple of feet further in and use the space where the staircase is for the third bedroom, thus making bedroom two approx 12' by 10' and hypothetical bedroom three approx 8' by 10', which isn't a bad size for a third room and the loft could still be accessed via a decent ladder through the hatch on the landing.

Kind Regards
I was originally with static Andy but if you are saying that removing the staircase increases the space sufficient for the third bedroom, and the layout is reasonable with decent room sizes, then I think that would be the best option.

There is nothing stopping you having a staircase to a loft store room as long as you don't describe it as a bedroom - or any other habitable room - when you sell it. But a third bedroom is more valuable.
If you can afford to do that, then by all means adding a small box room will add value to your property. but i would still consult a local estate agent to get their view, they may feel different and will value the property the same

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