I’ve put together a brief summary of all the building stages required to get the chapel to meet modern building regulations and become a house. I will be covering the extension, roofing and internal fit out and design separately. This would be similar for any property that was not originally designed to be a house and also some of it will be relevant when renovating older properties, especially where a lot of the interior has been removed.
Here are the floor plans that we designed. They are based on the original plans that had passed planning permission but made better use of the space. We made the downstairs less open plan at the front of the house, adding in rooms that could potentially be used as home office and a snug/playroom etc where previously this area was open plan and potentially unused space. Upstairs we added a fourth bedroom rather than having a really long and thin room at the expense of an extra bedroom. As there was no original window where we planned to have the fourth bedroom we decided to install a velux roof window to bring light and ventilation into the room (the planners wouldn’t allow a traditional window in the elevation). As this alters the external appearance of the building we did have to apply for an amendment to the planning permission, which thankfully passed. We have actually made a few tweaks to the floor plans since these were drawn, the most important of which; putting a turn in the stairs so they are no longer such a long straight flight which has allowed us to increase the size of the rooms at the back of the house. With the floor plans confirmed we were able to start building!
After digging a test hole and assessment by a structural engineer the building was found to have adequate foundations for the existing structure (phew). However in order to support the first floor we needed to create foundations for new internal load bearing walls. As per instructions of the engineer we dug out new strip foundations around the perimeter of the building and in the position of the ground floor internal walls that would carry the first floor. Concrete was poured into the trenches and reinforced with a steel mesh to create the foundations.
As with a lot of old buildings there was no damp proof system in place. Since we needed to build new internal walls from scratch we were able to put in an extensive damp course system which will be really effective. If you need to damp proof existing walls there are several systems that can be used; but the system we have used is suitable for new walls only.
Firstly a bitumen based primer was applied to the existing internal walls and floors to the manufacturer advised level. Directly on top of this we applied a damp proof membrane. Then a single course of blocks were laid around the perimeter.
A damp proof course (DPC) was placed over this first course of blocks, leaving an overlap. Then we carried on building the internal block wall. A further DPM will be placed on top of the existing floor prior to pouring the concrete subfloor. This system ensures no damp ingress as everything tucks and overlaps neatly to guide any damp away.
Internal walls and insulation
Again, as is the case with a lot of older properties there was no insulation in the chapel. In order to meet building regulations (and have a warm house) we needed to add insulation, different types will go in the roof, floors and walls in order to achieve the desired U-value that is required by building control. Sadly in order to do this, as I’ve previously mentioned, new internal block walls needed to be built, covering up the beautiful arches in the existing walls (sad times). We did manage to salvage the corbels and mouldings around theses arches so we can recreate some features to add character back in (I plan to write a separate piece about how we’ve added character, so will go into more detail then), anyway, the walls around the perimeter from floor to ceiling are cavity walls with space in which we added insulation. The walls which act as room dividers are solid block which will together with the perimeter walls support the first floor.
On the first floor we build timber stud walls to divide the rooms, which will be plaster boarded and plastered same as the downstairs walls.
As there had been no maintenance work to the property in decades it was to be expected that some repair to the structure of the building would be needed. It was actually in pretty good shape. There were some cracks within the mortar in places which we repaired by grinding out the damaged mortar and replaced using a metal bar and resin system.
There was also some damage to the brickwork where ivy had grown under the roof! after removing the ivy we were able to repair the damage
Once the ground floor walls were built up we were able to put in the first floor, so we could finish the internal walls. We used eazi-joists for the floor joists which cost around the same as getting all the materials separately but greatly reduce the labour and also make it really easy to run services through the floors (Your electricians and plumbers will thank you for this).
Once the floor was down were were able to mark out the positions of the rooms to check that the room sizes and layout felt right. As you can see from the photos we put in a temporary balustrade to keep things safe. We’ve kept the opening from downstairs quite wide and open to make this a double height space all the way up to the roof, showing off the beautiful exposed trusses. The plan is to keep exposed beams in some of the bedrooms and to enclose the beams in others to create a loft storage space.
After we got to this stage we started on the next – building the ground floor extension; which I will cover in my next post in this series.
Please do let me know in the comments if there is anything specific you would like me to cover about this renovation, its not always easy to judge the amount of detail to go into!