One of the great things about converting a loft is that you can to add value and space to your home without the addition of stress because, most of the time, you don’t have to go through the process of planning permission. Having said that, there are still a few regulations for loft conversions that need to be considered. Don’t worry, they’re not as bad as getting planning permission, but they are part of Permitted Development regulations. Quite simply, they focus on making sure your project turns out safe, efficient and practical.
It’s government regulation to ensure that new builds and existing homes undergoing renovations meet thermal efficiency targets. The regulations for loft conversions in this case simply mean that effective insulation will be needed. This can be placed either between the roofing rafters, or as an extra layer over the top of the rafters.
The roof is often the most isolated part of the house when it comes to thinking about escape routes. In the case of a fire, rising smoke also poses a risk to the upper floors. To guarantee that escape is easy, a minimum headroom of 2 metres is required for all escape routes. Before you start converting, make sure you have at least 2.2 metres to work with.
Windows are also escape routes, meaning that an opening of at least 0.33m2 is specified in the government’s regulations for loft conversions. To reduce the risk of fire, the electrical workings in the loft conversion must be fully checked by a qualified electrician.
All flooring, doors and stairs must have 30 minutes of fire resistance. This can be achieved through the use of fire-resistant materials or even fireproof paint.
Location and type of house
There are various restrictions and regulations for loft conversions if you live in a listed building or a Conservation Area; these will require specific investigation and are dependent on situation. Similarly, anything other than a terrace, semi or detached house will be subject to different regulations for loft conversions. Flats and maisonettes, already converted houses and other building types all vary in regulation.
Lofts are often not made to withstand the weight of people, furniture and flooring. An assessment of the structural strength may be required if the loft space has not been subject to much previous strain. A Buildings Regulations Application to Building Control will be sufficient to assess this risk.
Within the roof, you are allowed 40 cubic metres of space for terraced houses, and 50 for detached and semi-detached buildings. Any change to the roof space or shape may require permissions, and certainly those that increase its height. However, some roof lights and dormers will be within the regulations of Permitted Development.
This is a particularly specific regulation that may require an external eye. In most cases, the materials used must closely match the existing exterior of the property. Any variation too obvious will require planning permission to reduce local resistance to the development.
So what are my next steps when it comes to these regulations for loft conversions?
There are two instrumental things you can do next:
The first is to read the Government’s ‘Permitted development for householders – Technical guidance’ document. Reading this for yourself may save time and money with consultancies, and also give you the chance to know more about what will happen during the conversion, and the potential implications of the requirements.
Secondly, you can get measuring! Making sure the existing space can accommodate all of the safety regulations is vital, as it will ensure that you meet the conditions the government has laid out and that your friends, family and yourself will be safe in your lovely new loft conversion.