Posted 7th Jan 2023
Hi there.

Hoping for some advice about a loft conversion I'm planning. It's a fairly standard L-shaped dormer extension to our Victorian mid-terrace house, within permitted development. We've had a few quotes and one company was a fair bit cheaper than the others. We're happy to go with them as we've had several positive personal recommendations, including from our neighbours two doors down who had theirs done 2 years ago by this company.

However, two issues have cropped up at the quoting stage:

Firstly, they are asking for £3,800 + VAT to replace all the old (and in several cases knackered) cement tiles on the front slope of our roof with new Spanish slate tiles, which they will be using elsewhere. This seems like an awful lot when 1) according to a search, Spanish slate costs about £30/sqm, 2) the scaffolding and access will already be there, and 3) can the labour really be much more costly than to simply put the old tiles back (which is included in the quote)? Does this seem like too much to you and something I should be pushing back on? Or am I off base here? N.B. that I don't actually know the area of our front roof slope, but it's not a huge house (surely not more than 30sqm).

Secondly, they are saying that in order to pass building regs we'll need to not only install wired smoke alarms in all habitable rooms and in all landings (essentially all our corridors), but that all our internal doors will need to be replaced with fire doors. This will be several thousand pounds and we have a few old internal doors that we would like to keep. I have been told by a couple of other contractors that you don't need to replace the doors as long as you have wired smoke alarms installed throughout, and have quoted on that basis. Which is true? Does it vary council by council, and therefore is it something I should ask the council building control department about?

Sorry for the long post, hope someone can advise/opine!
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  1. Avatar
    This is from mutley1's link...........

    Fire doors are a legal requirement in all non-domestic properties, such as businesses, commercial premises, and public buildings. They are also required in residential flats and houses of multiple occupancy.

    If it's not a business or multiple occupancy it shouldn't be necessary, that's how I read it anyway.
    I think all smoke alarms should be wired as a backup to battery failure (edited)
    It's not the backup that's required for smoke alarms... It's the interconnection.
    So when you're asleep in the loft and there's a fire in the living room you can hear it.
  2. Avatar…rms

    Most properties in the UK have battery-operated smoke alarms, but mains powered smoke alarms interlinked between floors are the most reliable method of giving early warning in case of fire and must now be installed in all new homes.

    Mains-wired smoke alarms are also required in certain types of alteration and extension work. Mount them in the circulation space at every floor level:

    • In loft conversions
    • When adding new habitable rooms (bedrooms, kitchens, living or dining rooms) above ground floor level
    • When adding a new habitable room at ground floor level that doesn’t have its own exit leading outdoors
    Installing new interlinked smoke alarms can be disruptive, so think about the need for detection before you start work. Radio-linked alarms are acceptable; as long as the manufacturer can guarantee the battery back-up will last for 72 hours.
  3. Avatar
    Try lots of info on that forum
  4. Avatar
    looks like the smoke alarm needs to be wired and the internal doors need to be fire-rated…ed/

    with regard to the cost for replacing the tiles, it is irrelevant if the total cost is a lot less than the other quotes as it is the total cost that is important, unless i have misunderstood you. (edited)
    There needs to be at least one interconnected smoke alarm on each floor. (You can get wireless ones that do the job without the wiring but they're expensive.)
    There needs to be a protected fire escape route from the loft.
    If your house design is such that does open into the fire escape then they need to be fire rated to fd30 at least.
    (30 minute resistance to fire)
    In my case, my stairs are in the middle of the house after the living room but before the kitchen so there are 2 escape routes (front and back)
    I had to fit fire doors to first floor and loft doors and the 2 doors on landing at the bottom of the stairs. The doors before the stairs (living room and front room) are fancyish and don't need to be protected.If there's a fire in the kitchen side then we can go out the front and if there's a fire in the front or living room then we go out the back.
    I saved money on the roof by using the same cement tiles. They pulled the roof off, changed all the timbers and put the same tiles back on. No issue with building control.
    They don't even care about door closers and intumescent seals(I think that's what they're called) any more because people end up wedging doors open instead.
    I even used 2 old purlins as the main support for loft roof without a metal plate sandwiched in the middle because they were so big. Again no problems with building control. (edited)
  5. Avatar
    regardig the slates - remember that with overlap you need over double the actual area. Plus I'd expect that they will be replacing the membrane and battens. Nobody would expect to just remove old tiles and fit new slates on the existing felt/battens.

    Also slate comes in many grades, also size of slate can make a big difference to price.
  6. Avatar
    Loft conversions for habitable use comes with new regs that wouldn't necessarily apply in most cases.

    Smoke alarms yes but not sure on fire doors as can't see property. For us our Edwardian terrace doesn't require it,vasbits split level in rear we have fire escape window on first floor that opens to level outside so exit on first floor.

    You could get better advice from a sit down with chartered surveyors / architect a decent one will also give you better advice regarding existing roof
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