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Loft Conversion - Rules and regulations 

Building regulations
 
As with most things in life these days, you need the go ahead from some sort of governing body or authority before you can proceed.

With home improvements and building work, the two key laws here are planning permission [PP] and building regulations [BR]; PP gives you the clearance to start the project, BR ensures that you are completing it properly, soundly and within the law.

In this section, we will provide a very brief guide to what's involved in both - but PROPER ADVICE should be sought from those qualified to provide it (e.g.) specialist builders, local authorities and architects.
Failure to adhere is severly punishable - and not the sort of surprise you need when your dream conversion has just been completed!

Planning permission

The good news is that most loft conversions do not require planning permission.

There are a couple of general exceptions, however:
  • If it's a flat
  • If you live in a conservation area
  • If the roofline is to be extended
A quick call to the planning department at Swindon Borough Council will soon put you right on whether your property needs permission or not.
 
Top tip:

For piece of mind, whether you are getting a specialist to do the job or you are attempting it yourself, a certificate confirming the permission rights on your conversion is important - especially if you are thinking of selling the property and want to prove that everything is above board. Once gain, your builder or local authority can advise on this.

Living in a semi-detached or in a terrace?
 
If you are, then you need to be aware of the term 'Party Walls'.
 
A loft conversion could involve some kind of work to the wall or walls between yourselves and your neighbours. These walls are classed as Party Walls and therefore you have certain responsibilities to adhere under an Act of Parliament brought in in 1996.
 
The reality is that you should speak to your next door neighbours anyway about the work that may be done. At the least, it could be noisy, but in general it is structurally minor and straightforward. But before you can proceed, a written agreement has to be signed between you and those affected (usually a very simple, one-page document).
 
Again, proper advice should be sought.
 
Building Regulations
 
All loft conversions have to comply with Building Regulations - the rules relating to the structure of the building, the fire safety, sound and thermal insulation, provision for light and ventilation and, crucially, the access.

Any specialist conversion company will know all about these - and possible work-arounds - but as the owner of the property it will be ultimately your responsibility if the regulations are not met.

Certificates are issued by officers employed by the local authority, and they will visit the property as it is being converted and finally when it is completed.

web link   Swindon Borough Council - planning
MORE IN THIS SECTION
Loft Conversion - What's possible?
Loft Conversion - Who to speak to
Loft Conversion - Insulation
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