Converting your loft can create more liveable space and add significant value to your home. To accomplish this, you’ll need to find the right builder. It’s a big project, so you want to make sure to find someone who’s experienced, dependable, and understands your vision.
From price to qualifications to experience, there is a lot to consider. In this article, we’ll cover what you need to know to choose the right builder for your loft conversion.
1. Have Your Plans Ready
Most loft spaces are not immediately suitable for conversion as they are. This means you will need to take some initiative to plan the loft conversion style. Before hiring a builder, you will need to contact an architect and possibly a structural engineer to assist in the planned conversion drawings. Your ability to add a loft will largely depend on your style of home, what planning permissions are allowed, and your budget. London building experts KPD Construction recommend doing this well in advance of the intended start date of your project to ensure everything goes smoothly and you avoid any unnecessary delays.
The three most common loft conversions are:
- Dormer loft conversions- Add an extension to the roof and build out vertical walls. Add floor space and room for windows. This is the most common conversion type.
- Hip to gable conversions- Fill out a detached or semi-detached side by building a vertical end wall. This will expand interior space.
- Mansard roof conversions- Change the roof structure, add sloping walls and dormer windows. This conversion adds the most room and drastically changes the look of the property.
All this should be done before meeting with a builder, as then you own the plans and you can take them to different builders to get multiple quotes.
2. Check their Previous Jobs
Ideally, the builder you choose would have performed similar builds to what you have in mind. There’s no one-size-fits-all for loft conversions, so you should ask to see their portfolio.
If they are willing to give you references, that’s a good sign. That means they are confident in their work and have kept a good working relationship with their past clients. If you get to see the builder’s past work, you can then decide if you like the style and quality.
You should also ask if you can see a current build, as you can then see what the behind-the-scenes will look like. This should also reassure you they are an active company with work experience.
3. Make Sure You Feel Comfortable with Them
Letting builders come into your home is very personal, and loft conversions can take a long time. You must be comfortable with who you hire. When you’re talking to the tradesmen, do they seem polite? Are they happy to answer your questions? Are they on time for your appointments? Do they seem genuinely interested in your project?
A loft conversion is a long project that requires a lot of communication. If you feel like you’re not going to enjoy working with a builder, it may be best to find someone else.
4. Experience and Accreditations
Be upfront with potential builders and ask them about experience and accreditations. Qualified builders can tell you their qualifications, experience in the field, and how they’d approach your project. You can also ask to see pictures of jobs they’ve done. Feel free to check for builder reviews on sites such as MyBuilder. Some builders who work on lofts also belong to organisations, such as:
- British Woodworking Federation
- FairTrades Association
- National Federation of Builders
- Guild of Master Craftsmen
- Guild of Builders and Contractors
- Federation of Master Builders
5. Get Like-For-Like Quotes
Get quotes from at least three different builders. To accurately compare prices, you’ll need to see prices on all the same things, or like-for-like. These should include materials, labor, and possible subcontracting. Be aware that many tradesmen won’t necessarily add everything you want to the quote, so you need to make sure everything is included to get the true price. This could include plastering, skirting boards, etc. They can charge a lot for these things at the end, so make sure you budget everything in.
6. Find Out if They’re Familiar With Planning Permission and Building Control
Planning permissions and building controls are two sets of requirements you’ll have to fulfil to build your loft conversion. Planning permission deals primarily with larger-scale building development and the impact on the community. Building control works to ensure the health and safety of all who enter the building.
You may not necessarily need planning permission, but you’ll need building control to sign off on your building plans. This is where it helps to have a builder who’s familiar with local building requirements, as they’ll be able to ensure your conversion passes inspection.
There are many builders out there, and it may take some time to find the right one. Take your time while interviewing tradesmen. Remember, the right builder will be transparent and have sufficient experience for the loft conversion you’re looking for.