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Hi having just been up in my ladies loft last week clearing junk etc I discovered theres a space of 25 x 11 ft(WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!)Having done a bit of homework on her involving a lot of household chore etc lol she said yes to making a layout up there.Obviously the brain is now in overload trying to work out how to fit the rail system of Exeter in it(I know I will cut back on the grand ideas).Theres no electric up there and it needs boarding out as well.I was just wondering what the dos and donts are regarding the loft layout(dust,heat,cold etc etc).I note some on RM have loft layouts but thought if all the dos and donts were in one place Id know where to look.Thanks a lot anyone who helps out with my query.

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Really depends on the type and age of the house. I tried years ago and came unstuck because of:

  • Headroom
  • Heat
  • Cold
  • Removal of self from family
  • Dirt
  • Cost of rectifying all these
  • Inability to get stuff in and out because of damage to said stuff, self and fabric of house.

But the ones I've had access to have always been 'modern' roof spaces - i.e plenty of timber all across everywhere and **** all room. I could have done much more in my grandparents' house (built 1900 or so) as it had much more room up top. You may be luckier.

 

[Edit] Before working out the layout space available it might be worthwhile lookin at the space available after you've made a liveable-in space - I know when I did my original calculations and then came up with revised calculations after the making it liveable bit they really reduced the available area considerably. I also found that I ignored the "making every part of the layout easily accessible" bit at my peril.

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I have to say that my biggest don't is....don't! The turn off for me has been the sheer magnitude of the work involved in filling up that sort of space. Unless you are very dedicated for a long, long period of time it's easy for the motivation to wane- which, unfortunately is exactly what has happened to me.

 

It's sometimes difficult to quantify any sort of progress on a space this big - have you thought how long it will take to ballast for instance?

 

Another thing I've found is that it's difficult to play with it on your own once you have got somewhere, it's just too big.

 

Anyway, enough of the negatives, good luck with it!

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Cheers for that Coombe and Phil(I think lol).If the roof timbers were clad with a thin ply/MDF with insulation behind it leaving space for airflow between the tiles and insulation would that help on temp control?I know what your saying Phil regarding size I've even considered a double deck layout ala North American modellers.Obviously if most of the layout was just double track no station just large yard,TMD and maybe couple industries with a fiddle yard it may not be so bad to operate with DCC solo.Ive got headspace up there and Im 6'4" so its not bad.

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I had a couple of velux windows installed. It made the loft much more pleasent particularly in the summer when the loft gets ridiculously hot. It can get dusty up there but i'm really glad I went for it as there was no other option. Detailing the layout has been very slow (Phils comment on ballasting is very true!) and most of the time I go up there to run trains only. My son loves it and he is now at an age where I can trust him to go up there on his own.

 

 

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A couple of practical points:

 

Make sure that the crossbeams can take the weight of people spending extended periods up there. Most modern houses have prefabricated trusses which aren't suitable for taking sustained weight. Reinforce if necessary or suffer ceiling cracks in the rooms downstairs and possibly roof beam failure as a worst case scenario.

 

Insulate well - lofts are noted for extremes of heat and cold. If you line the loft, bear in mind ventilation otherwise moisture could collect between the lining and the trusses causing mould, damp issues and even rot. The track on model railways will suffer in extremes of heat as much as the real railways do. In extreme cold, huge gaps will open up, and - if inadequate expansion gaps are left - track will buckle in the worst of the summer heat. Insulation will alleviate these extremes.

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My loft is boarded out, did it myself with Wickes water-resistant stuff, quite a job, but do-able. Screw the boards down, rather than nail them, and use stainless screws from Screwfix to avoid the screws rusting. I've also made my loft opening larger, fitted a decent loft ladder and moved the opening from the bathroom to the landing.

 

Electrics: In mine, there was supply for a light, it's the first thing you want, to be honest, since it helps in ANY work you are doing. Mine had one bulb and now has two fluorescent tubes. I've added a spur off the ring main, but you would now have to get someone in to do it. Ask whoever does it to put in a separate consumer unit so you can switch off all the loft power other than the lights, at one switch, saves worrying about what you did, and didn't, switch off. Interestingly, I've added a cordless phone, since I know of someone who broke his back getting out of his loft in a hurry. :blink: Oh, and my loft light switch has a neon tell on it, so you can see it in the dark, or you could have the switch located on the landing.

 

I've also put two Wickes roof windows in there, since you can always HEAT the space, but in summer, within five minutes without ventialtion, you'll be in your own sauna.:( Takes about 5 hours to fit one.

 

At the moment, mine is space for my Emco 5 lathe and separate milling machine, plus all the kits and stuff I've collected, and all my modelling tools. No layout as yet.............but LOADS of junk the wife has stored up there:(:(:(

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Our Layout is sited in the loft and having insulated, boarded and fitted velux type windows it is just like being in any other room in the house. We have been constructing the layout for just over a year now ( I really should start my own Thread or Blog and upload some photo's)the windows make a world of difference and not that expensive or difficult to install DIY (do check that your roof is suitable though).

Most of the boards and some of the track has been in for over a year now and I have suffered no warping a part from one short section where we laid the track and omitted the expansion gaps, BTW we are modeling in 'N'

I say if you have the space in the loft and as long as you make it inviting then its one of the best locations.

 

Andy & Cieran ( Dad & Son)

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Having used the attic as the main layout residence in a few houses the important thing is to get your room right. If you can afford to get it done to a high standard - do it. Some key things (in no order) are;

Electrics - make sure you have sufficient capacity for power around the layout.

Lighting - as above.

Structure - whilst modern pressed trusses are lighter than traditional joists they will comfortably take your weight. They are designed to take snow, wind and weight. Do watch out for the impact on your ceilings below though. You might get nails bouncing out.

Structure - any major works - get the pro's in as you may need a building warrant.

Ventilation - take the advice and fit a velux or two. Great benefit in summer.

Insulation - don't just go slapping insulation about - speak to an expert. Your house is designed to condense moisture in the outer layer. Changing the levels of insulation can change the dew point and bring moisture in. Easy enough to avoid with some advice.

 

Get the basics right and you will have a layout room to fill with goodies.

 

JD

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Structure - whilst modern pressed trusses are lighter than traditional joists they will comfortably take your weight. They are designed to take snow, wind and weight. Do watch out for the impact on your ceilings below though. You might get nails bouncing out.

 

Definiterly screw not hammer.

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Make sure any Velux windows get fitted facing away from the sun. The model room here was fitted by a previous owner with a south facing Velux. It's probably perfect for growing dubious plants but its not so good for models. Also if you are doing that kind of roofwork you might want to look at solar water heating - not only may it cut the bills if you get enough sun but it's effectively a heat exchanger to cool the loft/roof. The other things I've not seen mentioned are building regulations (if you decide to fit stairs for access for example you can no longer fit the really narrow steep stairs), and safety.

 

 

Lofts and sheds have another problem (or advantage depending how you see it). Once you've run power, broadband, TV and railway up there it can make modelling a very anti-social activity. To all intents and purposes you are "out modelling" rather than "in".

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I made the decision to use our loft a couple of years back as we plan to convert the garage so there was no other option. I guess it all depends on how much you are spending, I used the Airtec sheeting to insulate the loft and boarded it out using B&Q flooring boards screwed down as mentioned before. The layout is mounted in the Vees of the roof trusses and like you I had a total possible run of 25 foot x 11 foot ish and I too had grand plans to produce something based on Exeter St Davids! Due to the position of the water tank making access to the far end very difficult I chose to cut the size down to 15 x 11. Part of that decision was also the thought that I'd never finish the larger layout and probably lose interest in it. If you look at my layout thread you will see that in two years I haven't got it anywhere near finished!

 

Regarding the temperatures, in winter I can wear a jumper and if it is too hot in summer the chances are I will be outside with a beer anyway! However, the temperature extremes haven't affected the layout in anyway as far as I can see so far, and the insulation does help. Also dust isn't a great problem either, I've had bedroom layouts before and the house dust is a pain.

 

As I said I didn't have any other option but I am glad I made thye switch because the layout is self contained and out of the way, which was a problem in the garage with all the other junk a normal garage has. Not sure where you are based but you are welcome to come over and have a look if you like before you dive in.

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Some very good points raised.

 

I started my loft layout when we had twins back in 2001. Took my time and did as follows

 

1. Decent power supply, and flourescent lighting. Good loft ladder (wickes) and hatch as big as you can.

 

2. Flooring - I used 8' x 2' x 3/4 t&g chipboard, screwed using plated twinfast screws (quick and easily removed if needed) - In fact EVERYTHING was screwed using twinfast - not a single nail used.

 

3. 4' x 4' Velux proffesionally fitted - around £500 suplied & fitted in 2003. Really did make a HUGE difference - natural light & ventilation.

 

4. Insulation - I had advice (as mentioned above) from my Velux fitter - Basically the roof (especially modern houses) needs continuous ventilation so I did not use fibreglass - I used the silver foil bubblewrap (Wickes) stapled on, then covered with insulation board (again twinfasts). 8'x4' sheets cut in half (8' x 2') Whole lot painted light blue, which made the place very bright

 

Take care (weight) how much you put in there !!

 

Of course every house is different. I also had tanks and plumbing to move. Many forms of roof construction also.

 

Good luck

 

Brit15

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I don't wish to rain on your parade BUT modern roof trusses are not normally designed to take vertical static loading on the joists apart from the load transferred and spread - in a designed manner - from the roof structure. Lots of people do 'convert' their loft space but in reality you should first study the Building Regulations, especially the tables in respect of joist loading, and a conversion is subject to approval by the Building Inspector (although some local authorities might differ in that respect).

 

As far as Council Tax is concerned converting a loft - even for model railway use - technically makes it a 'habitable space' and it is therefore included in your total habitable space for tax purposes. This will not affect you (unless there is a revaluation?) but it might affect the Council Tax Band when you sell the house.

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Interesting stuff. I am in the process of buying a flat. it has a huge attic space above it and in 50 years, the old dear who is there at the mo hasn't done a thing with it. i will need to kit it out from scratch with power, lights, flooring, bigger hatch and ladder. Might go for the velux if funds allow. The building dates back to the 30s so seems pretty solid, none of this modern plasterboard walls rubbish! I feel like I am obsessed with the attic and want to get it sorted out pretty quickly so I have minimum disruption once I've moved in.

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My loft layout has been in operation now since the 1980's.

 

As the wiring for the lights in rooms upstairs are in the joists it was very easy to tap into that - but as mentioned earlier you will need a qualified sparks to do that now. The easy cop out that I use for the main power is to use a good quality extension lead plugged into a socket on the landing or nearby bedroom.

 

Heat can be a problem I have some track that I should replace now as it has expanded and contracted so it has broken away from the sleepers. It still works and is to gauge and as it's free to move is good for the heat now.

 

The biggest cause of dust in the loft is me if I'm working on anything. I find that the track needs very little cleaning even with DCC.

 

My loft is a modern one. The floor boards in the middle spread the human load. The W shaped beams have horizontals on with boards on top. Minimal extra weight but it creates additional strength to the structure.

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A couple of possibly useful items off the web - note Page 3 on the Southampton Council document. N.B. both are 'unofficial' but might provide some guidance?

 

http://www.southampton.gov.uk/Images/Loft%20Conversions%20and%20the%20Building%20Regulations%202000%20(inc%20L1a%20Rev)_tcm46-161536.pdf

 

http://www.diydoctor.org.uk/projects/load-bearing_walls.htm

Scroll down to the abridged Table A1

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I design roof trusses as my job, all trusses are designed to use the smallest timber to take the loads designed, so weight of tiles, snow load etc are all taken in to account also tank loads split normally over three trusses are also put on to the bottom chord as well as storage, man on roof etc.

 

Timber is also over designed so in most cases a floored loft filled with stuff/rubbish and someone walking around in unlikely to cause any problems, what you should not do is cut any webs.

 

If you require any more info or want to give me the span pitch and size of the timbers (most will be 35mmx72mm) I can crunch some numbers.

 

David

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