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Loft conversions are a popular way to boost the value of a house, whilst also adding a beautiful new space to use as you please. Popular uses for loft conversions could be as a bedroom, home office, creative space or playroom.
Of course, even with an exceptional build, stunning design and decor, there are some incredibly important aspects of a loft conversion that cannot be ignored, and those are the laws, rules and regulations you have to follow when you opt for this kind of renovation. Unfortunately, if you don’t follow these rules there could be a lot of undesirable and even catastrophic circumstances including:
- Safety issues with your extension
- Safety issues with your home as a result of the loft extension work that has been done
- Undesirable aesthetics through negligent work
- Court proceedings from various organisations
- Court proceedings from your neighbour
- Being legally required to reverse the extension
- Not being able to list your loft conversion as an extra bedroom
- Not being able to use the conversion
- Losing value on your house
The good news is that these kinds of consequences can be avoided. The most important way to do this is by using a highly rated loft conversion company who will ensure you apply for all the relevant paperwork and meet the regulations needed so your loft conversion is safe, beautiful and legal. Another great thing to do is familiarise yourself with the various laws, regulations and rules related to loft conversions so you’re already one step ahead before you’re even starting the renovation process.
To help you, here’s a brief overview of all the paperwork relating to getting a loft conversion:
Planning permission is not always needed if the conversion falls under something called permitted development. To avoid planning permission the conversion has to fall under a long list of strict criteria to be allowed.
Often Skylight Conversions do not need planning permission, but an extension like an L-Shaped Mansard would.
It is complex and your South London loft conversion company will be able to help you understand more. However, as a general rule you won’t need planning permission if:
- The house is not considered designated land
- The house was not created as ‘New Dwelling-house’ (under permitted development)
- Hasn’t been adjusted from a non-residential property to a house (under permitted development)
- Has not already had a loft conversion completed (under permitted development)
- Is not a flat contained within a building of flats, or is not an entire building filled with flats/ apartments
Within permitted development there are also further restrictions including:
- The materials used have to be like those already used on your property
- The extension you have done must not go out further than the original roof space more than 50 cubic metres for all properties apart from terraced houses which need to be within 40 cubic metres
- Should not go any higher than the highest part of roof sits at the moment
- The part of the house and extension facing a road should not go beyond the current slope of the roof
- Should not have any change or addition to the chimney, flue, soil and vent pipe
- Should not have any raised platforms, balconies or similar features
- Any windows facing out to the side should use obscure-glazing and if they open, they should be over 1.7 metres from the floor of the conversion
- Original roof eaves have to be kept, or reinstated
- Enlargement should be 20cm or more from the original house eaves
- Roof enlargement should not extend beyond the house outer facing wall
There are exceptions to the above, and there are some rigid technical details that only expert loft installation experts will likely be aware of. With your awareness and their expertise, you have the best possible chance of avoiding breaking any rules.
If you do need to apply for planning permission, they will be able to take you through the process and help you to get the paperwork right. In some areas as much as 97% of planning permission applications are approved, but it still makes sense not to rest on your laurels and have an expert help you with the process.
Building regulations are required for a loft conversion, but differ slightly if the house is more than three storeys high or the property is a flat, apartment or maisonette. In this scenario the regulations are likely to be more elaborate and they may apply to additional parts of the building.
Standard building regulations for a two storey property include:
- New loft conversion floor is structurally sound
- The entire buildings structural stability remains sound with the new conversion
- There is a safe way to escape from fire
- Stairs to the new floor are safe
- Sound insulation is added to the floor
Many people often get building regulations and planning permission mixed up when it comes to a loft conversion but it is building regulations you always need to follow, and planning permission you sometimes need to apply for. A loft extension expert will be able to discuss this further with you so you have a better understanding of how it relates to your individual renovations.
Party Wall Agreement
If you are having any work done on or near any shared property boundary, including shared walls or land, you need to get a party wall agreement if you are in England or Wales. A party wall agreement does not come under the umbrella of building regulations or planning permission and is its own separate paperwork. It may well be that if you are having a loft extension and your property is semi-detached or end of terrace, you do need a party wall agreement which you can find out more about here.
Listed Building Restrictions
If your house is a listed building then you will most likely require written and formal consent to have a loft conversion. You may well need to speak with the County Archeologist, Conservation Officer or Historic England. Not all of those organisations/ people will speak with you directly and you may need to seek advice/ approval from them through your local authority. There are additional organisations who may be able to offer very specific advice if your case is not straightforward, and you can find more details of those organisations here.
It may be that your property is on a designated area of protection, or you may well have a species living on the property (even in your roof) that is protected. You should find out if your property falls within an area that is protected before any work goes ahead.
If there are any animals or insects found when building work begins, it may need to pause whilst the species is checked to see if it is protected or not. If it is not protected, there are lots of ways to ethically remove or relocate a species to allow for loft conversions to go ahead.
You can find out more about protected species here and how their protection relates to planning permission.
The Experts Can Help Ensure Your Conversion Meets Regulation
It is a good idea to do your own research about the laws, regulations and rules around loft conversions before you start making any plans. It helps to know there could be delays, or even challenges ahead for you when it comes to getting this kind of renovation done.
Whether the route to a beautiful new loft conversion is straight forward or more challenging, though, the most important thing is to work with an experienced loft conversion company who will offer you lots of guidance and information to help things run as smoothly as possible. With the right guidance, you can get an exceptional, safe, legally built loft conversion to boost the practical and financial value of your home moving forward.