The attic space was properly boarded and lined out with Celotex to try and keep an even temperature, along with installed lighting and sockets. A ventilator fan was fitted and although the low wattage heater wasn't needed as often as expected a small portable domestic aircon unit (venting out from the eaves) made a difference on very hot summer days (in both cases heat from the house rises).
Full-blown attic conversions that create a ‘habitable room’ will add value to your property but these come at a price and the stairwell plus fire door at the top will reduce the amount of layout space available in respect of the whole-area of the attic.
Living in the country where power sometimes failed, an emergency light had been installed beside the loft access so I could see my way out in case of a night-time power failure. However, the access via a stepped loft-ladder was always going to be inconvenient.
There are planning issues surrounding the use of attic spaces (particularly if you are creating a habitable room) which I shall not dwell upon here and of course the decision surrounding informing your insurers about the use of this space.
However, there are a few things you need to consider regarding a loft layout:
- Attic floor - are the joists sufficiently sturdy to support a floor (bearing in mind you are not placing furniture thereon). You can buy attic flooring in interlocking sheets - ensure the joints of these sheets are supported.
- Floor boarding – ideally the whole floor needs to be boarded. Interlocking sheets can be bought easily but need to be correctly fitted with due consideration towards being able to accessing anything you may need to access at a later date.
- Temperatures - you can properly line the attic - I will explain this below but without lining it may suffer from hot /cold temperatures.
Planning permission - tricky one but if the track room isn't a habitable part of the house then it may not apply.
- Fixed Stair /Ladder Access - you'll need a decent robust fixed (but folding) loft ladder which you can quickly exit via in an emergency.
- Hatch Access - assuming it is already of sufficient size you will need some protection lest you (or a visitor) falls and potentially drops into the opening.
- Hatch Cover - I would not recommend a hinged cover you can stand on (fall protection). If you collapsed upon it emergency rescue could be very difficult (unless you have a second emergency access hatch installed).
- Hatch Access Flap - hatch access flaps that hang down can be a hazard /obstacle to those walking underneath. I cut mine in two so they opened like a pair of aircraft 'bomb-bay' doors thus halving their depth leaving them dangling above head-height.
- Emergency lighting - when I had an attic layout I placed an emergency light at the access - it came on if the power went off and I could see to leave. My emergency light was ceiling-mounted by the access-hatch so it also illuminated the house's stairwell.
- Plumbing /lighting etc. - you'll need to ensure you can access all these. I once re-positioned a water tank to build an attic layout.
- Lighting /power - you'll need to have lighting /power installed in the attic.
- Isolating switch(es) - useful so as not to leave a soldering iron on when you leave!
- Will the layout fit? - when I built an attic layout I have to re-jig two collars (simple job) to make an open space; modern attics can have a plethora of timber - will this get in the way?
When I lined the attic ceiling in my old house I used 50mm aluminium -foil covered Celotex between the 100mm deep rafters. Tile battening was used to create a 50mm airgap between the tile's under-felt and the Celotex (this was vented at the eaves). The width between individual rafters were measured and the Celotex sheets cut into strips with a kitchen knife - all were snug push-in fits. Screw everything in place lest you like the sound of crashing roof-tiles!
The Celotex lining was then sealed and covered over with plywood. In overall terms it was a simple and straightforward relatively low-cost job (albeit best undertaken during summer months).
Vents were also fitted for attic ventilation (I added a 4" ventilation fan) with a second installed to enable a portable aircon unit - it still got warm mid-summer! Notwithstanding this as a lined attic-room it was generally quite acceptable and only required minimal heating in winter (heat from the house quickly rising through the access opening).
The attic was operated from a separate trip-switch off the domestic supply. Whilst there were isolating switches (for when I left) one socket remained live for the charging base of a cordless telephone handset. Besides obviating the need to traipse in /out when the telephone rang it could be useful in an emergency.
Located at the top of the house stairs a commercial emergency light also illuminated the attic hatch. In addition some relatively inexpensive 'push-on' LED 'cupboard' lights were strategically located around the attic (fixed in convenient to reach places).
I hope members find this of use.