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Building a loft
Qs re: regulations and DIY


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#1 Academic

Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:25 PM

Our second bedroom has an extremely high ceiling - it basically extends up the two stories of our apartment. We've always wanted to build a loft/mezzanine in there so that the room can do double duty as a music studio and guest room (desk with all DH's music equipment on the loft, bed on the ground underneath). Our plan is to build the loft over the whole width of the room, and about a third of the depth (if that makes any sense!) so that we don't completely lose the lovely light or the expanse of the high ceiling.

Anyways - DH wants to DIY it, which makes me a little nervous. He is an electrician and very handy, has a good understanding of construction generally and has built things before - but not something structural like this (though he did assist his builder friend when they built a music studio in the garage of our last apartment). When I suggested we ask the same builder friend or someone else to help, or at least to look at what we plan to do, he got really offended. He insists that it's easy, he knows exactly how to go about it and it will be as solid as a rock. He's explained the plan to me and it does seem like a logical, solid design (from my layman's understanding of construction, that is) but I'm still worried it won't work or, much worse, be dangerous.

Which brings me to my main question - are there council regulations around doing work like this in your own home, and is it illegal to DIY something like this without a licensed builder at least approving it? Even if it's perfect and completely structurally sound, I don't want to run into problems further down the track when we go to sell the apartment.

Edited by Academic, 28 November 2012 - 02:26 PM.


#2 MrsLexiK

Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:33 PM

Your not just  sticking up a wall, I would be getting a builder at the very least to sign off on it.  You will have to make sure the floor can actually support the weight you are wanting it to hold, plus the bearing walls that you would no doubt be building onto/against need to be able to support the extra materials.

#3 Feral Nicety

Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:06 PM

Talk to the council, they will be able to tell you what he can and cannot do legally.

#4 ~Nic~

Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:20 PM

It probably varies from council to council, but we looked into it when we did some reno's at our old house and we were told that as a general rule, as long as it didn't alter the outside appearance of the house (ie, moving windows around, adding external walls for extensions etc) we could pretty much do whatever we want to the inside.

In your case, I would definitley get a builder, at least to do the structural stuff... let your DH do things like gyprocking and laying the floor, but get a professional in to make sure it can hold the weight and that stairs are safe.

#5 Rukia

Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:37 PM

Hi op, im a structural engineer, and whilst im sure someone with building experience will understand what they are supporting the floor load on, i have yet to come accross a council who will be happy not to have someone inhouse, or a certifier ok the plans.  Planning will most likely not care, as you are not changing the appearance of the build, and sure council may never know what you are doing internally, but in the unlikely event something goes wrong, whos liable, you may not be in that dwelling, and the next owners will assume a structural floor will be officially ok'd.  Goodluck with it, its not a slight on your dh at all, just covering yourselves.

#6 Bluenomi

Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:47 PM

You can do whatever you want but when you come to sell the place it will be an issue if there isn't any paperwork to show it has been checked and signed off by someone qualified. We looked at a house with an unapproved basement and the bank wouldn't give us a loan because of lack of approvals.

#7 josh2003

Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:59 PM

I was going to say a similar thing to Bluenomi.

Aside from the fact that you'd want to get an engineer to make sure what you're building is going to be strong enough to bear the load without compromising the existing structure, you should also check whether you will need a permit. Just because it's inside and it can't be seen, it still may require a permit, just as converting your attic space into useable space does.

Otherwise, when you sell the house, you will either have to remove the structure, or have it retrospectively approved, which can be difficult to do.

My SIL tried to purchase a house a few months ago, and once they got the papers to the solicitors, they found out that the pergola had been added as a DIY, and didn't have council approval, so the vendors had to take the property off the market until it was re-built to standard and approved.

It just seems silly to go to all that effort not to do it properly.




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