Many people choose to convert their loft area as a means of obtaining more space without having to move home. This blog provides some advice on what you should be thinking about before making the decision to extend and how to ensure that the loft conversion is safe and legal.
- Check whether or not you own the roof and roof space
If you live in a house this shouldn’t be an issue but for top floor flats (and this includes upper cottage flats) you should check the title deeds (or ask a solicitor to do this for you) as it is possible the roof and/or roof space will be owned in common with all of the other owners in the building. If that is the case then you need the permission of all of the other owners (and a conveyance of their interest in the roof to you) before you would be able to proceed.
- Check whether or not your roof space is suitable for conversion
Any builder or contractor familiar with carrying out loft conversions should be able to advise you on whether or not your loft is suitable for conversion and, if so, for what purpose. In doing so he or she will take account of the internal height, roof pitch and floor space.
- Check planning permission, building warrant and/or listed building consent requirements
It’s best to check with your local authority planning and building control departments to understand what you are allowed to do before you go to the expense of instructing a contractor and/or architect to submit a formal application.
Building regulations will need to be complied with to ensure that the structural strength of the new floor is sufficient, the stability of the existing structure is not endangered, the stairs are not too steep, there is sufficient head clearance and reasonable sound insulation exists between the conversion and the rooms below. There are also fire safety regulations with which you will have to comply.
Different rules will apply to a loft which is being floored to provide additional storage as opposed to a loft being converted to a bedroom or living space.
If your property is a listed building or lies within a conversation area you may also need additional consents such as listed building consent and there may be additional conditions in relation to what you can and cannot do and the materials you may use.
- Get all necessary permissions and keep all the paperwork safe
Do not start the work until you have all of the necessary permissions and make sure you keep all the paperwork including the stamped and approved plans and/or drawings safe as it will be required should you later decide to sell your property.
Once the work has been completed the local authority will have to come out and inspect the property before issuing a completion certificate. Make sure you don’t forget about this final step in the process and keep the completion certificate safe with the other paperwork including any guarantees for the work and/or any new windows you have installed.
- Review your insurance
Once you are ready to commence works, be sure to inform your insurer that you are undertaking building works to ensure your cover is not affected. You may also want to review the reinstatement value in your buildings insurance policy to be sure it is still sufficient.
If you have any queries in relation to the legal aspects of a loft conversion please do not hesitate to contact us.
Katharine Smith, Director
The opinions expressed in this blog are of the author only and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Blackadders LLP.
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