In the process of having my loft conversion there were a few items which took me by surprise.
The largest shock, quite literally was the size of the steel which had to go into the house. I hadn’t really considered how the upstairs floor would be supported but it made sense as the architect described it to me that the floor was suspended and supported from above by steel girders. What I didn’t know at this time was the British Standard or Guidelines required the support to be capable of holding 4 people per square metre plus the weight of the roof, plus the floor and furniture etc etc.
Well, it turns out that my house is 11.9m across which is the maximum distance without having an internal load bearing wall. Add to that a 4.4m width. Even if you round the numbers down, I can have a party of 176 people on my top floor!
To add insult to injury the structural engineer also insisted on a smaller beam under the ridge. There is a steel construction bridge near me which has less metal. Car parks have fewer iron atoms than my house. In the event of a hurricane, I fully expect the first 170 neighbours to be sheltering at my house.
The second surprise for me was the ability for the guys to rip and replace walls. Everyone knows that internal walls are just stud and plaster, but the tradesmen working on my property looked at the problem as though they weren’t there. I’m sure it comes with experience, but it took a morning to remove a ceiling, a wall, 2 doors and slide in a staircase. I could lie in my bed and look straight up to the roof. The roof lights were not in place or it could have been an opportunity for a bit of star gazing.
It maybe the lazy person in me, but I’m surprised at how far it is from the top floor to the bottom of the house. Working from home involves a regular scoot down 23 stairs to get to the front door. Not so bad when it’s a new piece of electronics but a long trek back when it’s a door-to-door salesperson. Her indoors has the right idea. She just sends me a text message when my input is required.
The final surprise for me was simply how nice it is in those 3rd floor rooms. There is a zen-like quality to the natural light coming from above. The view across the rooftops is a completely different angle on the neighbourhood. When the rain falls on the roof lights (anything up to and including hurricane force), the result is a very soothing white noise. And finally, with the doors closed, you can’t hear the kids yelling on the ground floor.