Electrics and Heating Installation


staircase leading to loft

Now that the main structure is complete its time to get the electrics and heating in place. For the electrics the requirements are quite simple, consisting of bedroom lighting, mains wired smoke detectors and wall mounted power sockets. For the heating we decided a small radiator would be sufficient as the house and loft room are very well insulated. We were also building a small extension to the rear which meant the existing gas boiler had to be moved, so we decided to replace with an efficient condensing gas combi boiler.

Electrical Work

airing cupboard

All our electrical work was completed by an experienced and qualified electrician, as new circuits were being added the works had to comply with Part P of the building regulations. We decided on four double wall sockets placed around the room, this means that some sockets will always be accessible no matter how the room is furnished. It's important that the power sockets are wired into the correct circuit, it has been known for cowboy builders to connect power sockets to the lighting circuit which is a fire risk as the lighting circuit is only designed to handle the relatively small currents required.

Headroom and ceiling space is limited in a loft conversion so most people go for recessed lighting, we installed six down lighters that take 50W halogen GU10 bulbs, this provides a nice spread of bright and even light in the room.

Smoke Detectors and Means of Escape

hole in ceiling

Smoke detectors wired into the mains are a requirement under the building regulations, although you would have to be crazy not to have them fitted regardless of the regulations. We have smoke detectors on the ground, first and second floor ceilings. All the smoke detectors are linked so that if any one of them detects smoke they all sound the alarm. Having them wired into the mains is a safer option as there is no danger of the batteries going flat, they also have a backup battery to power them in the event of a power cut, this backup battery automatically kept charged by the smoke detector. Mains wired smoke detectors also save the inconvenience of replacing batteries although you should still remember to test them annually.

Another important building regulations requirement is to have a means of escape. It's quite common for this to be a larger Velux window set at a lower level so that you could escape onto the roof in the event of fire. Our means of escape is down both flights of stairs and out the front door. The escape route has to provide 30 minutes of fire protection so we had to replace the internal doors of the habitable areas (bedrooms and living areas) with fire rated doors and hinges. The bathroom door did not need to be replaced as this is not classed as a habitable area.

Heating - New Gas Combi Boiler

velux window in stairwell

Our house had a very common heating system that consisted of a gas boiler that provided heat for the central heating radiators and a hot water cylinder in an airing cupboard on the landing. The airing cupboard and hot water cylinder had to be removed to make way for the new staircase, if space is available the hot water cylinder can be relocated but as we wanted to maximise the space in the house we opted to install a new gas combination boiler (combi boiler). As a combi boiler fires up and heats the water on demand there is no need for a hot water tank, so the existing tank and airing cuboard could be removed.

There are good and bad points about combi boilers, but in our case the good points outweigh the bad:


  • Unlimited hot water
  • Highly energy efficient, save money on heating bills
  • Mains pressure (good for showers)
  • No need for hot water cylinder, cold water tank or central heating header tank
  • In the event of a leak as there is no header tank the amount of water is limited
  • Pressurised system so radiators can be sited anywhere in the house without having to raise header tanks


  • Lag before hot water reaches taps due to greater distance from boiler to tap than from hot water tank
  • If the mains water pressure is low then the hot water flow can be reducd when other taps are turned on
  • Concerns over reliability and cost of repairs

Our combi is now 4 years old and other than the exterior condensate pipe freezing one very cold winter we have had no problms at all. However, we would recommend buying from a manufacture with a good reputation for reliability such as Worcester Bosh(http://www.worcester-bosch.co.uk/homeowner/boilers) or Veissman(http://www.viessmann.co.uk/).

condensing in hot water mode as well. we have 37CDI link to gilbert heating services, highly recommended. important that it is intalled correctly, lots of problems are often due to poor installs.

Video - Preparing for the Staircase

In the short video below you can see the area where the new staircase will be installed. Where you see the gap in the handrail is where the first treads of the new staircase will be.

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