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The good news is that when you are converting your loft it is not usually necessary to obtain planning permission.
But, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you can just whip out the toolbox, pass the sledgehammer to the missus and get stuck in.
Not just yet anyway.
Although planning permission is unlikely to be needed there is
still some red tape to wade through and regulations to adhere too as all
loft conversions, apart from some light storage solutions, must make sure they comply with the building regulations.
And, if all that wasn't enough, there is also the Party Wall Act to take into consideration.
Confused? Don’t be.
Lets loop back to the beginning. Planning permission is ordinarily only required if:
*You are lucky enough to live in a national park or area of outstanding natural beauty.
*Any addition to the roof slope faces a highway.
*If any part of your proposed conversion will be higher than the existing roof line.
*Your home is a listed building
*If the original house is to be increased by 50 cubic meters (40 cu m for terraced houses) or 10% in both cases.
For a detailed explanation of the above tenets click here.
Although planning permission is unlikely to be needed your project will need to conform to the building regulations enforced by the local council's building control department.
But, as we said at the top of the page, the planning laws are now very relaxed when it comes to adding any kind of extension to your property.
But is also important to realise that the planning regulations are completely different to the building regs.
So what exactly are the building regulations?
Good question. Quite simply they are the minimum allowed standards of construction and design as laid down by the government. Building regulation approval is given, or declined, by the local authority.
And, naturally, there is a fee to play and application forms to be filled out. Come on, you didn’t really expect anything else did you?
The bottom line is that your loft conversion cannot go ahead until you have submitted plans to the local authority and have had your application approved.
Please don’t be tempted to begin work without the necessary approval. You could end up being hit rather hard in the pocket.
The major tenets of the building regulations that you are required to comply with are:
The floor must be strong enough to cope with the extra stress and weight of the loft conversion. This is a no-brainer. Even basic storage solutions will probably require floor strengthening.
The stability of the structure, including the roof, is not endangered. Again – pretty obvious.
Fire resistance. Hugely important. The building regulations insist that loft floors and walls must be able to resist fire for thirty minutes.
The stairs to your proposed loft conversion, possibly the most important feature of your project, must be designed to comply with safety standards.
Finally. If you are planning a do-it-yourself loft conversion then your architect or draughtsman will draw up and help you to submit your application for building regs approval or, if you are employing a specialist building company, then they should be able to obtain the required approval for you.
Make sure this is included in the price they quote you for the build.
So, to sum up. Building regs approval is always needed but the big changes in the permitted development rules now means that, for the vast majority of us, we no longer really need to think about the myrid aspects of planning laws. Which is pretty good news all round.
Some Notes On Permitted Development
However should you decide to include a veranda, balcony or raised platform as part of your loft conversion you will have to apply for planning permission.
And, in order for your project to remain a permitted development and avoid the application for planning permission, side windows must be obscure glazed with the openings 1.7m higher than the floor.
Roof extensions, apart from hip gable ones, must also be set back 200mm from the eaves. In designated areas, which include national parks, World Heritage sites and areas deemed as being of outstanding beauty, roof extensions will not be permitted.
Obviously before drawing up plans for any home extension it is obviously in your own interest to check with your local authority what is and what is not permitted in order for it to remain a “permitted development.”
It should also be understood that the regulations for other buildings such as flats and maisonettes are different, and that this should betaken into consideration when thinking about the planning laws for your property.
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