In the current property market many people are looking to extend and improve the home they have rather than purchase another. A loft conversion can add space and value to a home but many people find the thought of one daunting as they worry about needing planning permission and all the paperwork and red tape that will be entailed. However, while all loft conversions must comply with Building Regulations, most are not covered by planning permission. The government are planning to relax planning laws further with regards to both home extensions and loft conversions but at present a homeowner need only submit an application for planning permission when planning a loft conversion in the following circumstances:
* If the property is classified as being a listed building
* If the property is located within a designated national park.
* If the loft conversion results in any heightening of the current roof of the property
* If the extra roof incline is facing the public highway
* If the total floor space of the original property will be increased by 10% or 50 cubic metres (40 for terraces).
This does mean that you may need to apply for planning permission if the property has already been extended from its original area (for example if a kitchen has been extended).
For those living in a designated conservation zone it would be worth checking with your local authority what area specific conditions may apply.
As long as your property does not fit any of the above then you do not need Planning Permission but the work does need to comply with current UK Building Regulations, which are enforced by your local council. It is imperative that you gain Building Regulation Approval before any work is started. A loft conversion completed without building regulation approval may not be used (or sold) as a bedroom and, in a worst case scenario may prove dangerous.
Building regulations are legal minimum standards of design and construction put in place to safeguard the homeowner. They ensure that builders do not cut corners and that fire safety is not jeopardised by the additional floor. In order to get building regulation approval, your builder or architect must submit the plans to the local authority planning officer. Specialist loft conversion companies, architects and most builders have a wealth of experience in complying with building regulations. They will work with the homeowner to ensure that they not only meet your requirements but that they submit high quality plans correctly to be certain of a smooth and swift approval process. Your local planning officer may ask for changes to be made before the works start and may well inspect the site in advance, while the works are in progress and on completion to ensure that standards are being met.
While building regulations may seem like a chore they are there to try to protect individuals from dangerous workmanship and to weed the cowboys out of the industry. Any professional builder worth their salt will stricty comply with these regulaltions and will have the documentation to prove it.
Once building regulation approval has been gained, work can start and the homeowner can feel confident that the work being done to their property will be safe and to a high standard.