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Building regulations needed for a loft conversion

If you’re converting your loft into a new room, or a useable space for additional storage, you might not know that it will be subject to similar regulations as any extension or alteration to your property. Here is the essential information you need to know before ascending into the attic and commencing your conversion plans.

Do I need planning permission?

Primarily, you need to either attain appropriate planning permission or rule it out entirely. This isn’t normally required, unless your ‘lofty ambitions’ entail actually enlarging the volume of your loft, or altering the roof of your property. If all your changes are to be within the interior of the loft, including adding windows that don’t impact the shape of the roof, then you do not normally need planning permission.

So where do building regulations come in?

These apply to any new building work or significant home alterations, so a loft conversion falls into both these categories. Essentially, the regulations are in place to ensure the safety of you and everyone else in your property, and the practicality of access and usage once finished. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • The structure and integrity of any new flooring is sufficient for anticipated usage and volume of potential storage
  • The stability of the property, including the existing roof, is not compromised by the planned amendments
  • Anybody using the converted loft can safely exit in the instance of a fire
  • The staircase or access to the loft is designed for safe access and exit
  • Sufficient insulation will be in place between the loft conversion and any rooms directly beneath

Your options for a new space

In the majority of homes, the existing timber joists – essentially the floor of your loft, and part of the ceiling of your other rooms – will not have been designed to support any significant load. If you are looking to increase the storage capacity of your property, this will most likely involve laying floorboards over the existing timber joists and may require a Building Regulations Application.

If, on the other hand, you are creating a new liveable space in your loft, this will require more extensive planning. You will want to consider not only the additional ‘load’ on the existing joists, but also more insulation, points for electricity, sources of natural light, and appropriate access via a staircase, as opposed to an extendable ladder.

Fire safety will also come into all aspects of any loft conversion. Any habitable room in the upper storey of a property must have a window of a minimum 0.33m2, which can be escaped from in an emergency. As there is a high level of risk involved in descending to the ground from a window, new doors and stairs built for the loft must have 30-minute fire resistance.

If you are unsure about any elements of your loft conversion plans, please give our team a call today on 0208 0880 329. Building regulations are just one essential aspect of our expert service, which we deliver to properties throughout the South East of England.


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