A loft conversion can provide many benefits to a household, but it is not a simple DIY job you can carry out on your own. Other than the skills required to make the most of your attic space you also need to ensure you do not breach any building regulations.
Since the laws on home extensions were relaxed, home owners do not ordinarily need to seek planning permission to renovate the attic room. However, there are restrictions that limit the amount of additional space you add on to your property which may impact on your ideas and design.
A loft conversion is considered as “permitted development” providing the building work does not exceed limits specified by the building regulations for your type of house.
For example, owners of a terraced house can add up to 40 cubic metres of additional terrace space whereas a semi-detached household can add up to 50 cubic metres. Extensions cannot exceed the existing slope of the front roof or go beyond the highest part of the existing roof. This rules out verandas, balconies and raised platforms.
Creating a liveable space requires a range of alterations that could impact on the structure of your home if they are not properly thought out, planned and installed in accordance with building regulations. Many houses around the UK were not originally built to support a liveable space in the loft, therefore the timber joints supporting the roof are too weak to hold excessive loads. A solution must be incorporated into your plan.
Although you do not need planning permission, you still need approval from the local council that your loft can be converted into a liveable space. The purpose of this is more for your safety and ensures the structural specifications of the new floor will have sufficient support, the stability of the existing structure is not weakened, fire exits are included and the new stairway is safely designed.
It is worth mentioning here that when we refer to a loft conversion, we are talking about creating another room with a stairway entrance, not an attic room with a trapdoor in the ceiling you pull a sliding ladder through. That still constitutes an attic and will not add a great deal on to the value of your property.
The final legal stipulation you are obliged to follow is the Part Wall Act 1933 which protects neighbouring boundaries from losing benefits because of your extension. For example, an extension could cause damage to their house or view. However, the act is mostly a gesture of good will and bonding with your neighbours. They get to have a say which hours the building works can be carried out.
Because of the complexities involved, it is best practice to seek the assistance of a professional loft conversion specialist who will be able to explain the precise building regulations of your home and help you create a design that will make best use of your empty loft space.
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