A Guide To Loft Conversions
Most houses have a large space under their roofs normally known as the loft or attic. This space is often under-utilised and in some instances can offer an ideal opportunity for expanding your home. This guide has been written to provide you with useful information about how the Building Regulations will affect your loft conversion project.
Not all lofts are suitable for conversion and as a first step it is wise to go into your loft and carry out a brief survey before you get too far into the planning of your project. When carrying out your survey, check:
1. That there is enough height within your loft to stand comfortably, bearing in mind that your new floor is likely to be around 200mm higher than your existing ceiling joists.
2. That the loft space is large enough to provide a useable room.
3. That there aren’t any chimneys or services passing through the loft space that will need moving.
4. That your roof has felt under the tiles or is fully weathertight. If the answer to all of these questions is ‘Yes’ then your loft may well be suitable for conversion. How to Proceed Loft conversions are complex projects and unless you are experienced in construction you will need to get some professional advice. There are a number of ways of obtaining this including:
How to Proceed
1. Appointing an architect/ technician or building surveyor. They will prepare drawings and designs for your proposal, seek the advice of a structural engineer as appropriate and obtain the necessary Approvals. If required they will also help you find a suitable builder and manage the project for you.
2. Appointing a specialist loft conversion company. These companies offer a one-stop shop for loft conversions: their design department will prepare appropriate drawings and obtain the necessary Approvals and their construction departments will translate the designs into reality.
3. Using an experienced builder. Some builders have experience of loft conversions and may well be able to offer you a package similar to the loft conversion companies. Permissions Required All loft conversions must comply with the Building Regulations. There are two ways of making a Building Regulations application:
All loft conversions must comply with the Building Regulations. There are two ways of making a Building Regulations application:
Full Plans Application This is often thought of as the traditional way of applying for Building Regulations Approval. The building designer will draw up detailed plans and supporting information for the proposed scheme and will send them to us together with an application form and the necessary fee. We will then check the details and following any necessary consultations and liaisons with the building designer, a Building Regulations Approval will be issued. Work can start after the application has been received subject to a 48 hour commencement notice, although it is wise to wait until the scheme has had its initial check under the Building Regulations, which usually takes between two and three weeks.
Our team of surveyors will liaise with your builder and inspect the work as it progresses on site. When the project is satisfactorily completed a Building Regulations Completion Certificate will be issued showing that the project has been independently inspected and that it complied with the Building Regulations. Building Notice Application This system is best suited to minor domestic work carried out by a competent builder. Under this scheme no formal Approval of plans is issued and work is approved on site as it progresses. To use the Building Notice process you or your agent will need to submit a Building Notice application form together with a site location plan and the required fee. Work can commence 48 hours after the notice has been received.
When work commences one of our surveyors will meet with your builder to discuss your proposals, to agree how the work should be carried out, agree when the work will need to be inspected and to establish whether any further information will be required e.g. structural calculations or drawings. When the project is satisfactorily completed a Building Regulations Completion Certificate will be issued showing that the project has been independently inspected and that it complied with the Building Regulations. The Building Notice scheme is not recommended unless your builder and architect are very experienced in loft conversions and are fully aware of our requirements under the Building Regulations. The forms for making a Building Regulations application can be obtained by telephoning or calling into our offices or can be downloaded from our website.
Some loft conversions will also require planning permission, especially if a dormer window is involved. To confirm whether planning permission will be required please contact Development Control at your Local Authority. Party Wall Act If your loft conversion affects a party wall you may need to give your neighbours notice under the Party Wall Act. Further details can be obtained from the ‘Planning Portal’ www.planningportal.gov.uk or by contacting the Department of Communities and Local Government for a copy of the latest guide to the Party Wall Act.