Fitting a loft hatch and ladders – single-handed
I managed to figure out why my arms were hurting so much today, it had been a bit of a mystery as it just didn’t seem to fit with what I’d been doing. Turns out that the torque of the electric drill driver was so high that the twist of the body of the driver was giving me Popeye forearms.
Anyway I released the jacks and everything stayed nicely in place then I gradually moved them across the ceiling, jacking it up where required and fixing the old joists to the new stretcher joist. Lots of nailing to make sure that they remained in place but a really nice job, I was really worried about doing this but it turned out fine and it was excellent preparation work for the loft ladder and door going in to place.
I unpacked the loft ladder and shifted it upstairs, it was quite a dead weight and I knew I was going to have to be pretty ingenious to fit it by myself without breaking it… or me.
I decided to make a frame using some substantial timber planks, into this I could then drop the readymade loft frame, once this custom frame was fitted into the loft floor. The frame was constructed around the loft frame in the large bedroom, I made it nice and snug and extended the legs so it would fill the void I’d need to fill once I’d removed the joists to fit the loft door. This frame would then abut up to the sawn joists, the frame would then be screwed onto the ends of the loft joists to give them plenty of support, despite being sawn through. This frame could then easily be put into place and everything would be exact and ready just to drop the loft ladder frame into.
I then went back into the attic and constructed a new stretcher beam to mirror the one I’d already made. This beam was fitted on the opposite side of the loft entrance and the gap between represented the width of the new frame. I hung this frame on hangers and again joined the original ceiling joists to the underside of the new stretcher beam.
With this all in place and the joists all now supported I could cut out another joist to widen the loft entrance even further. Some of the laths in the ceiling suffered but it had to be done, despite this though everything was going very well and I was building a very substantial structure where it had been contorted and fragile before.
I fitted the frame between the stretcher joists, I screwed the frame to the ends of the joists to give further support and belt and braced everything that could be belted and braced.
Knowing I couldn’t carry the new loft ladders manfully into the attic, not even on my head, I unbolted the ladders from the loft door mechanism and carried them both up separately.
I know figured that if I dropped the loft frame, door and all into the new framed entrance that there would be two problems. One would be that the frame would drop straight through, the other would be that with the ladders poking through the gap would restrict my ability to place the frame in the aperture.
Hmmm, the only solution was to lose the ladder and screw two supports underneath the loft entrance to support the frame once I dropped it in. The only problem would be that once the frame was in place then there would be no way to get out of the attic.
I thought a bit and then it dawned on me that the old loft entrance was still in place. Still in place but directly over the top of the thermal store…
Anyway push coming to shove, a few beads of sweat and I’d managed to move my aluminium ladders from the mouth of the loft entrance to the bathroom and with a squeeze I could get up through the original entrance and into the attic.
Bish bash bosh, loft ladder frame dropped into place, loft ladder frame screwed to new frame, loft ladders bolted back into frame (this took some time) a tight squeeze back down the back entrance, removed the temporary supports and hey presto a wonderful working loft ladder all executed by myself without any help whatsoever.