The tenders for the loft rooms came back on the 1925 house back in June. Of the five contractors we had one no bid, one high and three close together. The client was looking for cost savings, so we met with the lowest bidder to see where we could make some economies. What the contractor came back with was to strike out the premium feature items and the overall savings were slight. In addition, the contractor had just won a long job on the other side of town – so there would be a delay to the start. When the first phase of the work was undertaken, the client’s dad worked with with a builder friend to do the site work, with the engineer and Kings Heath Architect assisting with the details – insulation, structure and so on. The plan now is to do the same with the loft. There will be much more control for the client and hopefully some cost savings too.
One of the features of the 1925 house is the beautiful and complex roofs which sit low over the house. In order to bring the eaves down onto the first floor, the wall plates (which support the rafters) are dropped down into the room and the ceiling is tied between the rafters about 18 inches above the top of the external walls. This means that we can’t put any additional weight onto the ceiling, because it is not supported by the external walls. Instead we will drop two long steels across the whole width of the house (don’t worry we can assemble them in sections) and fix new joists between them to form our new floor. That’s that figured out. How we will work around the existing supports for the roof we have yet to discover. The engineer thinks that the original builders just put extra posts and purlins in where it looked right – a system that has worked for the last 88 years even if it doesn’t meet existing building regulations. Now we will have to work carefully around the existing structure. Any parts that need to come out will need to be replaced with something else – perhaps the new internal walls will stiffen the existing roof.