This one’s going to be a rant with crappy pictures and videos. Sorry.
Posting this does have a practical purpose – it encourages me to document the progress of the conversion so far. Not that I think this blog is being mistaken for anything other than an indulgence.
As the title suggests, said improvement is occurring much later than expected. I’ve learned that in the lexicon of building work which requires planning permission, that ‘expected’ is a contentious word.
Obtaining planning permission from Building Control within Glasgow City Council, or, having heard first-hand anecdotes from others and done some research, any council throughout the UK, is a fiasco. When you see a headline such as ‘Government accused of making fracking as easy as building a conservatory’ you’re inclined to think such hyperbole is absolute bollocks. Now, having gone through the process of getting planning permission to convert the attic space in my ex-local authority council house into a living space, I know it is.
To be clear, this isn’t an issue of getting plans passed (provided you submit them through a registered architect who knows all the regulations) it’s the length of time it takes to get things ratified through an underfunded, understaffed, over-regulated process. The application (the drawings done via an architect with a structural engineer’s consultation) for planning permission to convert the unused attic space in my house into two bedrooms and a bathroom was submitted in February 2017. Without going into too much detail (because it’s tedious), the original intention was to knock through a wall in the living room to create the staircase entrance, with two cupboards adjacent to each other (one in the bedroom, one off the hall) becoming the cavity for the stairs (and the stairs could only ascend in one direction due to the roof’s slope). This original mode of access would’ve preserved all the downstairs floor-space.
While everything else about the plans was completely fine, to get full planning they insisted the stairs needed direct access into the downstairs hallway for ‘fire regulations’ (my architect joked that they’d probably ask we re-submit again to comply with wheelchair access rules for commercial properties). This required a stud wall be erected in one of the bedrooms (at a loss of three square metres) to house the now required turn in the staircase. Fair enough, and while I bristled at the extortion of an additional payment of two hundred quid to ratify the resubmitted drawings, it was paid – by this point I just wanted to get on with it. It was now August 2017.
So, you’re thinking this resubmission took a week, or maybe two weeks due to bank holidays or because someone was ill or on holiday, or maybe a month due to excessive Bovine flatulence and roadworks on the M9 causing the earth’s axis to shift? Nope. It took them nine months to ratify the new drawings. Nine. It’s a scandal that you’re left hanging, waiting, without them giving you any indication of when you can expect to hear back.
These delays haven’t cost me any money, just time (it could’ve been done by now) but just imagine said building work was being done as a commercial job for a client. Materials could’ve been purchased in anticipation of work starting and left to rot or spoil. Money could’ve changed hands. Would the builders you originally hired still be available now? It left me curious as to how much planning delays cost the taxpayer, personal and private enterprise every year, answer – this projection seems modest to me. I mean, okay, it probably wouldn’t be, but that billion quid could be used constructively to build stuff that benefits everyone, like schools, roads, and hospitals, man.
Even worse, the above concern – ‘how it affects business’ – is the kind of prioritisation I’d associate with Tories, but if disliking inefficacious bureaucracy makes me a Tory in this instance, so be it. Normally I’m too patient to capitulate into the insufferable narcissistic whining of the bourgeoisie bastards you see on Grand Designs. They’re the sort which laments the hardship of having to spend (euphemism for borrow) an extra hundred grand or two to ‘realise their vision’. Still, even if I dislike that this experience of having to wait a year to get started has allowed me to empathise with these wankers on some level, at least I can console myself that it’s preferable to empathising with Gary Glitter, or something.
You might also be wondering why I bothered? Well, as the world gets more populated and the rooms in new build homes get smaller, who doesn’t want more space? Second, if I ever want to sell the place in the future, to get a full return on my investment (and hopefully then some) it’s essential that I have the planning in writing, as any conversion work can be advertised as living space. Take two houses in the same area built to the same spec, which sounds more enticing to a cunty nuclear family? Four bedrooms? Or two?
Anyway. Enough jabbering on. Time for some pictures and video. CRAP PICTURES AND VIDEOS! BUT PROGRESS! FUCK YEAH!
For comparison, here’s some from before major work started (Autumn of 2017):
A few more after the flooring had been started and most of the roof beams heightened (early 2018):
After the windaes were installed (early May 2018):
Starting the stairway to dungeon heaven (late May 2018):
Partition wall now completely cleared, ready for staircase to be installed (door on left still to be removed):
I’ll supply another update later this summer when it’s (hopefully) finished or very close to it. As you can see before the windaes went in, it looked like an attic torture dungeon sans chains on the walls, and auld-fashioned torture apparatus – say pears of anguish and knee splitters. Now the junkies in the highflats (provided they have binoculars) will have a lovely view of me torturing Romanian gypsy children that I intend to have trafficked in by Serbian Gangsters. But before all the fun begins this is what remains on the to do list; building and putting in the stair case, building a stud wall, finishing the flooring, plastering, buying plasterboard, insulation (it costs a fortune), tidying up the electrics, putting in plumbing, buying and installing a bathroom suite, and in-between deciding if I want it open plan or not. And breathe. One day at a time.