How to do a Loft Conversion
As the industrial age has passed into the days of the information age, entire buildings that were once created for manufacturing are now obsolete in terms of their original purposes. New needs in society have resulted in new requirements for buildings and physical spaces. Either old buildings can be demolished and new ones erected or outdated buildings can be remodelled and resurrected. The ecological way of current times dictates that a recycling approach is commonly preferred.
When we consider how to do a loft conversion, search for an industrial space to convert, start with a decent structure. The idea is to convert the space for a new function, not to perform miracles on rotten wood or rusted-out window frames. A factory that manufactured lead paint will likely have major issues in terms of turning it into a healthy environment. The challenge might be insurmountable. Before engaging, it is worthwhile to investigate the history of the building, learning of its past uses. The most important thing on how to do a loft conversion is to find real estate that is structurally sound, fundamentally solid. Certainly a brick or, better yet, stone-based building is better than one of wood, sheetrock or straw. (There are three little pigs that can testify to that.)
It is also highly advisable to own the building before investing large amounts of time, money and energy into the endeavour; however, there are also success stories with rentals, using a long-term lease. Whether owned or rented, once the desired space is located, empty it entirely if that has not been done, and clean everything. Replace or remove what cannot be cleaned. A floor should never be underestimated. It needs to be entirely cleanable and level. Many older floors are of beautiful hardwood strips. These will most likely need treatment: sanding, staining and varnish. If the floor is not done right, countless problems will manifest down the line. Tile or smooth a concrete floor with a professional finish, or be cursed by the consequences. Old brick walls usually need sandblasting or, minimally, heavy layers of good quality paint. Aged glass panes and possibly the window frames may need replacement.
Many older buildings were made for heavy duty industrial use, meaning high ceilings, thick walls, strong floors, big windows, maybe built-in pulleys. This might seem extravagant for the uses of technocrats of the information age; but, in fact, the heavy-duty architecture is a blessing in these times of minimized construction costs for cheap, flimsy material. Many of these buildings have stood the test of time, literally weathering many storms, and in some cases even blitzkriegs. As a result some of these have immeasurable value over modern, relatively disposable edifices. Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon had a famous debate over this very issue.
Understand the purpose of the space. Some simple advice on how to do a loft conversion is plan appropriately. Know this unalterable truth: it is very difficult to live and work in a space at the same time. To further illustrate, it is not efficient to work on the bathroom and still depend on it for its vital uses. Do yourself a huge favour and arrange an alternate living or working space while the loft is undergoing its transformation. Many a sound board or other piece of expensive machinery has been damaged by sheetrock dust or splattered paint due to over eagerness. Patience is key. Winston Churchill observed that “we shape buildings, and buildings shape us.” To get the most benefit and to understand how to do a loft conversion, do it right the first time.