Everyone told me that it would be stressful. I was hoping they would be wrong. But they weren’t.
Having a loft conversion is a gigantic pain. But it was definitely worth it!
I’ve decided to share some of the choices we made, to help to others who want to expand upwards and keep the process as green as possible.
Our loft room has an en-suite toilet and shower room.
I probably looked at a thousand toilets online trying to find a ‘normal’ toilet with a simple wooden toilet seat, before coming to the conclusion that it just isn’t possible. To save on carbon emissions from transport I chose ceramic ware produced in the UK by classic company Armitage Shanks. The toilet has a low water dual flush (4-2.6 Litres). I chose a simple design and ordered the cistern and pan with no seat, then bought a wooden seat separately. This is the model I chose and ordered at Aqva. John Lewis do FSC certified oak seats. Modern toilets often have unusual seat shapes, which are only available in plastic and hard to replace if they break.
The shower is from a UK based firm called Crosswater. We ordered it from Sanctuary Bathrooms*, who were very quick and efficient. I chose to avoid ‘digital’ showers with LED displays as it seems like there’s more to go wrong. In an attempt to avoid non-recyclable materials, I ordered an enamelled steel shower tray from Kaldewai. It took an age to arrive, andwas damaged in transit, so unfortunately I had to hastily choose a resin replacement instead. It seems very sturdy and will hopefully have many years of use. We chose a simple glass shower screen from Hudson Reed* to keep the space light and clear.
For the floor and shower enclosure we chose natural limestone tiles from Mandarin Stone. Their Flax Honed Limestone comes from the Antalya region in Turkey, and is shipped in containers to the UK. This is from their company environmental policy: We are increasingly aware of the demand for sustainable materials, the impact of the carbon footprint and green issues relating to our planet. The long term durability of stone, porcelain and ceramic means that replacement costs are reduced and the lifetime cost is actually less than that associated with more inexpensive floor and wall coverings … We have compiled documentation from all our overseas stone suppliers, to prove they are legally certificated and have ISO systems in place to be compliant with their country’s environmental and health and safety laws. We visit most of our suppliers’ factories or quarries and confirm they are compliant with regard to their employees’ safety together with their respect for their surrounding environment.
We have an array of 8 solar panels on our roof (3 on the top row, 3 on the bottom row with a hole in the middle for a Velux window). Green gas and renewable electricity are from Ecotricity. Our hot water comes from a pressurised cylinder which is heated (on sunny days) using an electric immersion heater, powered by solar PV. We have a magic box called the PowerFlow which diverts energy from our solar panels to the immersion heater before exporting any excess.
We’ve also added two swift boxes to the outside wall, hoping to entice some of these wonderful birds to share our home when they arrive back from their winter travels!
The first mistake I made was spending months looking for ‘eco-builders’. These specialist companies work with environmentally friendly materials but are very hard to track down. Unless you have a big budget and live in a city, you’re probably gonna have to find a conventional building firm that is happy to work with your specified materials.