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How to cost control your attic conversion. How to find the savings?

Converting your attic space can set you back between €15,000 to €40,000-plus. It’s not cheap project or is it extremely cheap even more cost effective than a garden room the only cheaper project is a garage conversion., That amount of money another room is but the costs don’t have to be sky high. No matter your budget, there are ways to minimise expenses and control your budget. Whether you need a spacious home office, playroom or luxury master bedroom suite, careful planning and design can save you a small fortune. But do remember there is only so much you can do before impacting on Building Regulations.

Decision Factors that will impact your budget are as follows:

1) How much space do you need?

Perhaps the design decision that comes with the most cost implications is whether you opt for a basic roof light conversion, add a dormer or raise the roof line. Ask yourself how you want to use your loft conversion. Could simply making your existing loft habitable by adding roof windows (or skylights) to let in natural light provide the space you require? Of course, you will also need to add a staircase, strengthen the floor joints, plasterboard the walls and ceiling, add insulation, electrics, heating and fire safety measures. If you’re on a tight budget, this could be the best option.

So Roof-light or Dormer?

If you need a little more head height you could add a dormer window. This is a box-like structure which sits vertically on a sloping roof. The dormer has its own roof which may pointed, hipped, curved or flat. Dormers add architectural interest and detail, but require additional building materials and labour, increasing construction costs. Plus, a front dormer will need planning permission whereas a roof-light attic conversion can be built under permitted development rights.

A single dormer window will cost less than a full dormer, such as a flat oof dormer, that runs the length of a house. Hip to gable conversions - replacing sloping sections with vertical walls – are perfect for creating lots of extra floor space but more expensive again. By not having a dormer window or changing the roof-line, you’ll keep costs down.

2) Consider the type and extend of Plumbing.

Will you need an en suite bathroom in your loft space – and where will it be located? Remember plumbing and sanitary ware will bump up the cost big time. This is one of the most important decisions in cost controlling your attic conversion conversion.That said, many designers would recommend including a small bathroom in your loft conversion (budget permitting), especially if you plan to use it as a bedroom. There are still ways to keep costs down. If you can locate your en suite right above the pipework for a bathroom on the floor below it will save a lot of work. If you cannot afford your dream on suite now maybe you can do all of the first fix plumbing and carry out this section of the project at a later date when finances allow.

3) Standard rather than Bespoke Finishes

Keeping to standard, off-the-shelf rather than bespoke products can also make a big different to the overall price tag. Think twice before choosing anything for your loft conversion that is high end whether it’s building materials or fixtures and fittings. Track down bargain buys alternatives online and watch out for seasonal sales. Choose sturdy, mid-range products that are functional and lasting. In general, uPVC windows are more affordable than timber or aluminum and can look smart too. However, uPVC is unlikely to be allowed in a conservation area or listed building.

4) Alternative Storage Solutions

Storage can be tricky in a loft conversion with sloping rooflines, low eaves and awkward angles. There are plenty of companies offering bespoke, fitted wardrobes but the expense can be enormous, running into thousands of pounds. Ask your builder or a local carpenter if they could fit do a similar job but at a fraction of the price. Alternatively, Ikea has a good range of affordable, freestanding furniture. Or buy second-hand and upcycle items with a fresh coat of paint. Always check you can get any bulky items up the loft stairs.

Architectural Technician or Architect?

While it is possible to design your own loft conversion, it’s not generally recommended because of the detailed knowledge required to comply with Building Regulations. Some homeowners may not realise a loft conversion requires a landing, fire doors, escape route and integrated smoke alarm, for example.

Botched loft conversions can put the whole structure of your entire house under stress and cost tens of thousands to fix. No-go areas for enthusiastic amateurs include anything structural or involving gas, electricity or plumbing.

For a straightforward loft conversion, you can save money by hiring an architectural technician or building surveyor rather than a fully qualified architect to produce construction drawings and specifications to help secure the necessary approvals.

4) Specialist Attic Conversion company or Local Builder?

This is a balancing act which you must weigh up subjectively for each attic conversion. Attic conversions are so popular there are companies that specialize in this sector of the construction industry in Ireland. Many provide a comprehensive design and build service while others offer a range of options, so you can choose how much professional help you need.

Another route is to use a reputable local building contractor with experience of attic and loft conversions. Local builders will have access to trade discounts, wholesale suppliers and tradespeople they know and work with regularly, all of which can help cut the cost of your attic conversion which may or may not be passed on to you in terms of cost saving . Choose the route that best suits you and your budget.

5) Tender Control & Evaluation

Get at least three written, itemized quotes to compare from your shortlist of local builders or loft specialists. Ask them to explain in layman’s language what things mean and why they would use certain products. Remember the lowest quote is not always the best one. Quality of workmanship and materials are important too. Double check exactly what is included. Does the overall price include installation of power points and lighting or scaffolding if required? Hidden extras can come as a nasty shock. You may be able to do some things more cheaply, for example hiring skips to take away rubbish. Give us a call if you need help in tender evaluations.

6) Be your own Project Manager.

Instead of paying someone else, consider project managing the attic conversion yourself. You will need to know what needs to be done and when as well as find skilled tradespeople, for example a carpenter, electrician, plumber and plasterer. If you mismanage schedules for delivery of building materials or coordinating trades, it could end up costing you more money. But if you are confident at dealing with contractors, budgets and time management, being your own project manager could save a substantial sum.Personally I think you are better off paying a local professional builder to do his job as the saving will be low and the risk will be high.

7) DIY Decorating

You could save yourself between €1,000 and €2,500 by decorating your own attic conversion. Not everything has to be done by experts. Doing the decorating yourself can make your budget stretch a bit further. If you’re a dab hand with a paintbrush or able to put up wallpaper or tile a bathroom, then being able to carry out the interior finish yourself is another way to cut the cost of your conversion.On the other hand, if you’re not a confident DIYer, forking out for a decorator could be worth paying extra for a professional finish. Plus, it will save you time and stress. I have seen so awful DIY project so you need to honest with yourself whether you can do this to a standard and quality that you will be ultimately happy with.

8) Stick to your costing plan.

Be aware that even small changes to your final plans can significantly increase the cost. So, it’s worth spending time thinking through as much of the build as possible. Imagine yourself in the space and consider its layout, orientation and if you want a roof window or dormer or both. Decide where you will position pieces of furniture, the bathroom and any built-in storage. Once you’ve chosen your final design, try to stick to the plan.

Building a loft extension can add significant value to your house – but a botched job could devalue it. Most people will need to hire qualified builders, structural engineers, architectural technicians and tradespeople to ensure the work is structurally sound and complies with Building Regulations. That said, it’s perfectly possible to keep costs down with carefully considered design choices, savvy buys and early planning.

Final After thought:Structural consideration Timber versus Steel?

A) Steel Beams or Timber beams?

Structural integrity is key in any loft conversion, of course. You do not want to put your home in jeopardy through a badly planned or poorly supported loft conversion. Your loft conversion company will of course be heavily involved in the choice of beam at this stage and how to make your home structurally sound.Steel beams are the most commonly used within loft conversions, particularly as they offer more flexibility in terms of structure. Timber joists can be fitted to steel beams, and they are also able to span longer distances than timber beams. That’s not to say that timber beams do not have a place, however. For smaller scale projects or projects in a more bijou space, timber beams can be cut and fit into place without their strength being compromised.

Cost Considerations You may be surprised to hear that when it comes to cost, steel beams are the cheaper. They also provide great longevity, meaning that they are the more cost effective option over timber beams. Timber beams depending upon construction method which are exposed can look super and really add to the appearance of the finished project.

B) Steel Beams or Re reinforcing timber jousting?

Another option in certain circumstances is to doubling up existing joists and rafters with 8x2's laid alongside, bearing on the wall plate but you need the advise of a structural engineer before progressing . This may seem like more cost effective manner of construction but beware it is very labour intensive the other benefit of this option is that it may allow you greater head height over the steel beam option.

If you are looking for help with a building project, please feel free to give us a call al Builders

Attic Conversion Costs in Dublin

In closing the average of costing of an attic in Dublin is currently between €15,000 and €25,0000 depending upon specifications .


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