Loft conversions. The first 5 steps

Loft conversions are extremely popular right now as people invest in their homes to create more living space.

I will point out the first 5 steps you need to take, should you wish to convert your loft.

  1. Is your loft big enough?

    There are 3 critical measurements you need in order to decide whether your loft is worth converting.

    A). First  is Height you need at least 2.2m at the highest point of the roof.

    Measure from the floor to the ridge beam in the centre highest point in the roof space.

    B).Useable space.  Measure the floor. Bear in mind that a portion of this space will be limited to storage use.  So set the measure at 3ft (2ft 6″ could be used if desperate for space). Hold the measure vertical and mark the floor where the 3ft measure touches the floor and also touches the rafters/roof trusses. This is where the stud wall will be built for the sides. Do the same the other side.

    C). Measure the usable square footage. Measure between the 2 marks you have created on the floor. Then measure between the 2 walls at each end to get your square footage of usable space.

  2. Do you require planning permission?

    Most loft conversions are done under ‘permitted development’ rights, therefore planning permission is not required. However, you will need planning permission if;                                                                                                      a) Your property is within a conservation area.                                                                                                                       b) If the property falls within an area of outstanding natural beauty or national park.                                                  c) You wish to extend the Dormer loft section to the front of the roof facing the road.

  3. Do you need asset of Drawings/Plans?                                                                                                                        Yes. Please don’t try and be cheap in this area, ask a builder to scribble something on a piece of paper. Of course you will no doubt do that whilst brainstorming your design layout. However, you will need a set of drawings professionally done. They don’t cost a lot, but you will need a set for the building regulations inspector. You will also need a copy for any party wall agreements required, which I will cover shortly.  The surveyor/architect you use will best advise where to place the staircase to ensure best use of space. He will also make sure the project is complying with building regulations.
  4. Will I require a building permit?

    Yes. All major building works have to be inspected by a qualified building inspector. You can use the council building inspector, but I would say its best to contract a private one. The reason for this, is that they will have to visit the works periodically to sign off different stages of the build. His job is to ensure the works are done properly and the correct materials have been used to conform with loadings calculations etc.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Private building engineers are generally more prompt to call out once a certain stage of works are completed. This in turn means the builders can get back to work to complete the next stage. I know of projects being held up for 3 weeks while they wait for the council building inspector to turn up and inspect the works. Once your loft conversion is complete, the building inspector will be able to issue a certificate of completion. This document is crucial should you wish to sell your house in the future.

  5. Will I require a party wall agreement? If your House is terraced or Semi detached then you will need a party wall agreement. This agreement has to be sent to your adjoining neighbour at least 2 months before you want to start works.                                                                                                                                                                       So why do you need a party wall agreement? Well the law states that dividing walls are jointly owned. This means, You don’t own half of the thickness of the wall your side and the neighbour owning the half their side. Therefore any substantial works done on a party wall needs to have permission from both sides.  

Your neighbour has 14 days to reply, If they do not reply then you must assume they have NOT given consent. So what you do next is to contact a surveyor to contact the neighbour, to see if they will agree to this surveyor carrying out an impartial inspection in order to raise an ‘award agreement’ that satisfies both sides. If the neighbour doesn’t want to use your appointed surveyor but wishes to use their own surveyor, they are at liberty to do so and you will be responsible for paying the costs of both surveyors.

Note, for the record. The neighbour cannot deny you permission to do a lawful alteration to your property, however, they can affect how and when your building works are done. For example. They may be elderly and state that no drilling takes place before 8am. They may well ask for assurances that you make good any damage to their property as a result of your works. Another example may be that you have cracked plaster on their side of the wall in which they will require you to make good.

Note 2; Party wall surveyors cannot have a conflict of interest. This means that you cannot use the same surveyor who is going to oversee your works. It must be an independent surveyor.

For help and assistance in your loft conversions and the first 5 steps.  Call us for a no obligation quote and we can explain how we can deal with all these issues for you. email or call 07551756279

Leave a Comment