With property prices becoming increasingly unstable in many parts of the UK, loft conversions have become very popular, with more and more people staying put in their current homes and converting their lofts into an extra room to create more space. This is also a useful method to increase property value and prices, especially for those who are looking to sell their houses, since a loft conversion can boost a property’s value by about 10 percent.
In response to this, new regulations were set on the 1st of October in 2011 to make the process of loft conversions easier for people. As of now, a majority of loft conversions and extensions can be carried out without the need to obtain permission from your local council. This could save each household up to £1,000.
When Should I Obtain Planning Permission?
Typically, planning permission is not required. It is only required in the case where you intend to extend or alter your roof space and the results will exceed specified limits and conditions.
When to Obtain Planning Permission for Houses
The following is a list of limits and conditions that you must keep to in order to avoid needing to obtain planning permission. Please note that this specific list only applies to houses and not maisonettes, flats, or other types of buildings:
• Only up to 40 cubic metres additional roof space for terraced houses (including any previous roof space additions that you, or the previous owner of the house, have carried out in the past)
• Only up to 50 cubic metres additional roof space for detached and semi-detached houses (including any previous roof space additions that you, or the previous owner of the house, have carried out in the past)
• No extension beyond the plane of the existing roof slope of the principal elevation that fronts the highway is allowed
• No extension that is higher than the highest portion of the existing roof is allowed
• Materials used for the extension must be similar in appearance to the existing house
• No balconies, raised platforms, or verandas are allowed
• Any side-facing windows are to be obscure-glazed
• Any opening in the extension must be 1.7 metres above the floor
• No roof extensions are allowed in designated areas such as national parks and the Broads, conservation areas, World Heritage Sites, and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
• For any roof extensions that do not belong to the hip to gable category, they are to be set back, as far as possible, at least 20 centimetres from the original eaves
If your planned loft conversion and extension does not comply with all of the abovementioned limits and conditions, you need to obtain a planning permit.
When to Obtain Planning Permission for Flats and Maisonettes
In the case of flats and maisonettes, there are slightly different regulations as compared to that of houses. Even within the category of flats, there are slight differences in regulations for ground floor flats and top floor flats.
The following is a brief guide on when you will need to obtain planning permission for loft conversions and extensions for flats and maisonettes in general:
• If your house is a listed building, you will most likely require listed building consent. It is also advisable to contact your local planning authority for advice, as works to a listed building that affects or compromises its unique historic character and value without consent is a criminal offense, and should not be taken lightly
• If your flat is situated in a conservation area and your proposed loft conversion involves demolition, however little, you may need to apply for conservation area consent. Contact your local planning authority for more advice
The following is a brief guide on when you will need to obtain planning permission for loft conversions and extensions specifically in ground floor flats. Note that the abovementioned general guide also applies to ground floor flats.
• To add a loft extension to your flat, you must apply for and obtain planning permission
The following is a brief guide on when you will need to obtain planning permission for loft conversions and extensions specifically in top floor flats. Note that the abovementioned general guide also applies to top floor flats.
• If you are only intending to carry out internal works, you may not need to obtain planning permission. However, the interpretation of internal works may vary from location to location, and it is recommended that you contact your local planning authority for advice to be safe
• If your proposed loft extension or conversion involves the extension or alteration of roof space, you need to obtain planning permission. You should also check if you own the roof space, as it may belong not to you, but to your landlord, management company, or freeholder.
When Do I Need to Obtain Building Regulations Approval?
The guidelines provided in this section apply specifically to loft conversions for houses that are no more than two storeys high. If you are looking to carry out loft conversions for houses over two storeys, apartments, or other property types such as maisonettes, similar guidelines apply, but they may be more extensive and there could be additional limits and conditions applying to other parts of the building. Contact your local planning authority to be on the safe side.
If you intend to convert your loft or attic into a liveable space, you need to obtain building regulations approval. In a nutshell, the building regulations are in place to ensure that your stairs to the new loft are safely designed, that there is reasonable sound insulation between the new loft and the rooms below, that there are safe escape paths in place in case of fire, that the stability of the building’s structure (including the roof) is not endangered, and also that the structural strength of the new floor is adequate.
In addition, if you wish to carry out extensive loft conversions and extensions, Building Regulations are likely to apply, and you would need to obtain building regulations approval.
If your proposed plan fulfils all of the above requirements, you should be safe. But to be a hundred percent sure that you are fully compliant with local laws and requirements, do contact the relevant local authorities for advice.