Managing A Loft Conversion

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Although you almost certainly won't be building your new loft extension yourself there is still lots of hard work in front of you. 

No matter which builder you choose, or how hands on your role, there is still going to be plenty of project management to keep you busy before, during and after the build.

When it comes to converting the loft there are only a few options to choose from with varying degrees of involvement required from the homeowner:

  • Increasingly popular and probably requiring the least input from the property owner in terms of project management are the all inclusive package deals offered by many specialist building firms
  • A great option for the competent DIY'er is to have a shell only conversion.  This is pretty much what it says on the tin with the builder doing all the structural work and completing the internal walls.  This 'shell' is then left for the property owner to finish off.
  • Use an architect as the project manager and entrust everything to him or her.  This is pretty much a hands-off role for the homeowner whose input is pretty much limited to coming up with the initial design concept that the architect turns into the final plans. 
  • The final choice, and still a very common one, is for the property owner to directly employ designers and specialist tradesmen.  This is very much a full on role and means the homeowner is project managing the whole design and build process.

So, when it comes to managing a loft conversion, the first two options above are pretty much restricted to keeping a wary eye on builders and planners and making sure the work that is completed is done on time and to budget. 

Though, having said that, the biggest single decision here is in choosing your builder. Get that decision right and you are most of the way there in passing your project management exam.

As already mentioned using an architect is probably the easiest route in terms of managing a loft conversion and, if you can afford it, certainly something you should consider.

However, in terms of the fourth choice above, choosing your own tradesmen and micro managing your project there are lots of decisions to make and you, as the property owner, will be performing a hands on role throughout the whole process. 

You could of course contract out the project management role but, if taking this on yourself, you will need to put aside at least eight weeks and as much as twelve weeks to see the job through to its completion.

So What Does Managing A Loft Conversion Involve?

Your main role here will be co-ordinating the different tradesmen, ensuring that the right materials are delivered at the right time and that each contractor completes their work without delays.  This is a lot harder than it sounds and needs a lot of organising.

A big part of ensuring the project is a success is in choosing the right tradesmen.  Perhaps the best advice here is to make sure you only use specialists. 

For example, plumbing work should be entrusted to a specialist plumbing company and not parcelled out to an electrician who says he is 'handy with a monkey wrench'.

So putting the right team in place is very important but here are a few other things to consider:

  • Make sure that each tradesmen knows exactly what is required of them.  It is down to you, the project manager, to be very specific in what each tradesmen is expected to do and that they complete their work.
  • Ensure that the materials each tradesmen needs is delivered at least the day before they are due to start work.  Failure to do this will result in tradesmen standing around waiting for materials which will be hugely expensive.
  • As always, check out the references of all tradesmen and ensure they can actually do the job you have contracted them for. Don't be tempted to employ a friend of a friend just because he is cheap.
  • Something that is often forgotten is to make each tradesmen responsible for clearing and tidying after themselves and for disposing of all their rubbish.  Failure to this can very quickly result in an untidy and dangerous site.
  • Don't pay in full in advance. When managing a loft conversion agree a schedule of payments with your builders and contractors and stick to them.  Don't pay extra and don't make the final payment until you are absolutely certain that the work has been completed to the agreed specification.  But this is a two way street.  Make sure you make your payments on time or the whole project could grind to a halt.

For more info see the related pages below

An Easy To Follow Guide To The Process Of Converting Your Loft

A Discussion About Headroom

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