Loft conversions structural engineers London
You might think that your loft conversion doesn’t need a structural engineer, particularly in London, where the job might not be that big. After all, it’s simply a building project, not an engineering one. However, a loft conversion changes the overall structure of your property, which means it’s essential to hire a structural engineer. Read on to find out what they do, why the calculations they produce are vital to your loft conversion and how London Lofts can help if you’re looking for a structural engineer in London.
What's a structural engineer?
In a nutshell, they’re experts in the structure of buildings. They use a series of calculations to figure out a building’s strength and ensure it’s designed in a safe and durable way.
Why would my London loft conversion conversion need a structural engineer?
They will work out how to convert your property safely and in a way that won’t damage the integrity of your home. They will also produce a set of plans and calculations for the benefit of the building regulation officer at your local authority.
Almost all loft conversions require a structural engineer, but this is especially the case if you expand into the roof rather than the existing space. The roof is a crucial part of your property, and it will have to cope with a fundamentally different load following the conversion work. Carrying out a loft conversion without structural engineering advice could cause substantial damage.
Roofs generally fall into two categories – trussed rafter roofs and traditional roofs. Trussed rafter roofs have been commonly used since the 1970s and are notoriously difficult to convert. This style of roof should not be changed without proper engineering calculations.
Traditional roofs are less complicated, but beams will likely need to be inserted to support the new floor. Considering this, structural calculations would be required for all but the simplest loft conversions involving traditional roofs. Both roof types are common on residential buildings in London.
You also risk damaging the floors below if loads have been incorrectly distributed, and you’ll need to include a set of stairs that meets fire safety requirements.
The bottom line is this: if you convert your loft without expert help, you can potentially cause thousands of pounds worth of damage, as well as devaluing your property. And in a city that’s as densely packed as London, with its many terraced and semi-detached properties, there’s also the risk of damaging neighbouring buildings. This is why the structural engineer’s calculations are so crucial for your conversion. With this in mind, it’s important that you appoint one with residential experience – and if they have experience working on loft conversions, that’s even better.
What’s more, these plans and calculations will also inform your construction team and the building regulation officer. The information provided by their calculations will help with planning permission, building regulations or a Certificate of Lawfulness by ensuring compliance with local authority requirements.
What will the structural engineer do?
A structural engineer will provide calculations and drawings for the design when it comes to your loft conversion. They will visit your home to conduct an initial inspection, take measurements and analyse the existing building. They will examine different aspects of the property, such as the roof and its construction, the impact of the alterations and what new elements will be required to ensure the physical integrity of your home. They will then draw up a detailed set of calculations and plans.
These plans will be shared with your building team, who will use them to provide a quote in the first instance and then work with them when carrying out the loft conversion.
What if I need planning permission?
As loft conversions can be carried out under permitted development rights, it’s unlikely that you’ll require planning permission. In these instances, the structural engineer would be able to produce their calculations at the very start of the project once they’ve carried out their inspection.
However, if planning permission is a requirement, you should wait until this has been granted before getting your structural calculations and drawings. This is because your plans might have to change, depending on what the local authority decides, which means the engineer may need to re-do their calculations, costing you more money in the long run.
What's the difference between an architect and a structural engineer?
The two have different areas of responsibility. If you’re carrying out any kind of work to the structure of your property, you need a structural engineer. An architect’s job depends on the type of project, but it usually relates to the design. However, the two work will work closely together on your loft conversion; the structural calculations drawn up by the engineer will help inform the architect’s design.
How can London Lofts help?
All of our conversion projects meet strict safety standards, which is why we strongly recommend carrying out your loft conversion with a structural engineer on board. But you don’t have to hunt around London looking for one with the experience you need. London Lofts has access to a team of highly qualified engineers who have worked on numerous building projects. They’ve drawn up structural calculations for loft conversions across London and are familiar with the type of buildings usually found in the capital.
So contact us today for a quote and find out how London Lofts can take care of all your loft conversion needs in one go.