If you are planning a loft conversion you may have heard that the work needs to comply with building regulations. What are building regulations? And what are the building regulations for a loft conversion?
What are building regulations?
Building regulations are created by the government that set minimum standards required when designing, building or altering a building.
Planning permission and building regulations are not the same thing. If you would like to know more about planning permission for your loft conversion read our article https://www.jefferyandwilkes.co.uk/planning-permission-for-loft-conversion/
It is possible that you need both planning permission and building regulations for your loft conversion.
Are building regulations approval required for my loft conversion?
Yes. You will require building regulations approval for your loft conversion if it is to become habitable space.
What do I need building regulation approval?
The government sets minimum national standards for building works via these regulations. Some of the aspect’s construction projects needs to comply with are as follows:
- Fire escape
Building regulations play an important role in ensuring buildings meet the certain standards.
Who assesses standards and provides building regulations approval?
There are two options. You can either choose a local authority inspector from your local council or an inspector from a government approved private building inspection firm.
You have a choice as to whether you submit full plans or a building notice. If you go for a full plan’s application, you will need to provide detailed drawings that will be checked and approved by the building inspector. The drawings are detailed and complex but beneficial for a builder as the specification for their work will be clear.
A building notice means you can start the project without prior approval, however throughout the project it will be the builders responsibility to ensure the whole project complies with building regulations.
What building regulations will be assessed in my loft conversion?
Items that an inspector will assess include : –
- Fire escape – many aspects will be monitored including fire resistant doors, smoke alarms and fire protection.
- Sound insulation – sound insulation between rooms will be assessed, as well as the party wall if you have a neighbour next door that also has a loft conversion
- Floors – It is unlikely that the original ceiling joists will be able to support the new loft space, so new floor joists will be installed. They will need to be checked to ensure they support the structure adequately. New steels and beams may also be introduced; the inspector will check these too.
- Safety of Stair Design – For fire safety there will need to be a check on the staircase. The structure will also need to be checked to ensure there is enough support for the ceilings and floors.
- Doors and Windows – They should be energy efficient, so the building control inspector will check the thermal heat loss.
Safety will also be assessed, for example if any glazed area in a window is below 800mm from floor level, 300mm from a door and up to 1500mm from floor level then safety glazing will need to be installed.
Each window and door will be assessed for ventilation ensuring they provide the right amount, dependant on the room. For example, a bathroom or utility room will need to have higher levels of ventilation as there will be more moisture in the air than in a bedroom. In a bedroom, windows can be sufficient but, in a bathroom, you likely need an extractor fan and window(s).
Fireproof doors may be required in unprotected areas, the inspector will evaluate the fire escape route and if there is a need for fireproof doors. They may also be required to be self-closing. Some windows may need to be fixed if there is a risk of a fire spreading to adjoining properties.
The new window being installed will need to be large enough for the means of escape. Normally you need to have a minimum of one window per room.
- Internal Walls – The internal walls will need to be checked if you are knocking through, building a new one, or opening a wall up. The impact this will have on the building will be factored in and if the wall is load bearing or not.
- Roof – the roof may be checked to see if movement has occurred with the alteration. Movement can create cracks in the walls or in the worst-case scenario the roof could collapse so it is important for it to be checked thoroughly by the inspector.
- External walls – The existing walls will need to be checked for the new weight to ensure they can take the load and structure stability. They will also be assessed for thermal efficiency and weather resistance. If the external wall is being re-rendered or cladded this will also need to be checked.
- Electrics – Your electrics must comply with building regulations so pick someone who is qualified and registered to be able to sign off the work. Notifiable jobs are installation of a new fuse box or consumer unit, installing a completely new circuit and alterations to an existing circuit.
- Kitchen and bathrooms – The kitchen and bathrooms themselves will not necessarily need to be checked by the building inspector but the ventilation, electrics, thermal performance, fire safety and drainage will be checked to ensure it is adequate.
- Drainage – If the roof size is being increased, then you may need to increase your rainwater pipes and gutters. This will be something the inspector will look out for. If you do not have sufficient drainage and gutters, then you could be at risk of flooding.
When should we inform the inspector about the start of a loft conversion?
As early as possible in the project. Jeffery & Wilkes can do this on your behalf.
When do the inspections take place for the loft conversion?
The building inspector will need to be given notice that the works are about to start at least 7 days before the work commences. They will then visit the site and check the building conditions on commencement. Some of the visits they are likely to come out and check on are as follows:
- Structure (steels, timbers & stairs)
- Fire regulations
- Windows & Doors
- Final Inspection (exterior complete)
What happens if the conversion does not meet the building regulations standard?
If there is something that does not meet the building regulations standard, the builder will need to resolve the issue then contact the building inspector, so he can come and assess after the issue has been resolved.
Once the project is complete, what happens then?
The building inspector will do a final inspection to sign off and then supply a completion certificate .
How much does building control cost?
The typical cost for building control services on a standard loft conversion is between £600 and £800.
Building regulations are a protection and can give you peace of mind that your project is meeting a certain standard. Hire a competent builder who understands the building regulations well to avoid issues and delays.
Jeffery & Wilkes are happy to assist you and will take care of the applications and contact with building control on your behalf so you can relax and receive the completion certificate to accompany your beautiful brand new loft conversion.