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Advice on..... loft conversions

28/09/21Advice on..... loft conversions

If you are looking for more space but would rather not move house, a loft conversion is a great way to add an extra room to a home. If it is carried out properly, a loft conversion can also add to your home’s resale value.

A loft conversion in a house is a permitted development so it does not require a planning permission application, so long as certain limits and conditions are met. This does not apply to flats, maisonettes or other buildings. If you are interested in converting your loft space you should check with your Local Planning Authority whether permitted development rights apply – they may have been removed by what are known as Article 4 directions. Other consents may be required if your house is listed or in a designated area. This guidance relates to the planning regime for England. Policy in Wales may differ, so always check with your local planning department.

More to a loft conversion than meets the eye

In our surveying role, one of the most common misconceptions we come across with loft conversions is the widespread belief that you can put some boarding over the ceiling joists, add a staircase and that’s enough. This could not be further from the truth. To start with, building regulations approval is required. For example, the conversion must comply with the Fire: Part B of the approved documents (building regulations).

Generally speaking, ceiling joists are only designed to withstand the limited amount of load required to walk over for maintenance. Joists are not usually designed for the added weight of floor boards, furniture and constant traffic in a loft conversion.

The repercussions of a poorly executed loft conversion could end in disaster: not only for the purchaser but also the neighbours. There have been many cases where conversions have been carried out without input from a structural engineer, which has led to really catastrophic consequences.

When we carry out a home survey on a building with a loft conversion, we look for evidence of botched design or poor quality workmanship or any structural issues and check whether it meets current building regulations and if planning permission was required. There are limits to what we can see of course in a visual inspection. If I have any serious concerns that need more thorough investigation, I may advise calling in a structural engineer.

Contact the Forge team today to book a home survey with one of our qualified surveyors.

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