Summary: Advice for creating a loft, discussing the regulations and legal obligations when building a loft conversion.
The most frequently asked question in relation to loft conversions concerns whether planning permission is needed. In England and Wales planning permission is not required for a loft conversion unless dormer windows are being fitted in a pitched roof facing the road. In Scotland planning permission has to be obtained if the conversion involves installing dormer windows in any part of the roof. Planning permission will definitely be needed if the loft conversion extends above the existing roof line.
If you have already extended your property, even with a conservatory, planning permission may be required if the loft conversion exceeds the volume limits set for your property. Further information about volume limits can be obtained by visiting www.planningportal.gov.uk or by contacting your local authority.
Listed buildings and properties situated in conservation areas will definitely need planning permission regardless of where you live in the UK.
These are general guidelines and you are strongly advised to check with your local authority before commencing work.
Although planning permission may not be needed, all the work carried must meet the Building Regulations. The local authority Building Control Office must be notified of your intention of carrying out a loft conversion. This is to ensure that the work carried out meets the required standard and will involve a building control officer visiting your property to inspect the conversion. Along with the quality of the construction work the inspection will cover:
Under the Party Wall Act 1996, if you live in a terraced or semi-detached house you will need to get a party wall agreement from your neighbours. A letter of formal notification detailing the work you intend to carry out, the date when the work is due to commence and how the work will effect them, should be sent to your neighbours at least two months prior to the beginning.
Neighbours must reply in writing stating that they are happy for the work to begin. If consent is not forthcoming, the dispute must be resolved by an “Agreed Surveyor”, and involves engaging the services of a professional surveyor who meets with the approval of both parties. The Agreed Surveyor will set out what work can be carried out, when and how it is to be carried out, and supply a report on the condition of the adjoining property to be used in the event of a later dispute following the completion of the work.
Do not be discouraged by the legal obligations that converting your loft entail, as they have been put in place to protect both your property and peace of mind.
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