Do You Need Planning Permission for Your Loft Conversion?
Loft conversions are an easy and convenient way to increase your home’s plinth area without putting up a new structure. While this option is quite economical, many people are reluctant to undertake loft conversion projects for fear of being denied planning permission. Contrary to popular belief, it is indeed possible to convert your loft without permission. All you have to do follow a few easy steps.
In order for you to determine whether you need to apply for planning permission, you will need to procure the services of an architect, builder or civil engineer. Once you tell them what you intend to do with your attic space, they will be able to advice you on whether you need to apply for planning permission or not.
Make sure that their advice is based on your final design as changes to your design may warrant application for planning permission. Alternatively, you can enlist the services of your local building control such as city council to guide you on which conversions are allowable without planning authorization.
Whether you need planning permission or not you will still have to ensure that you get building regulations approval. These regulations are in place to certify that any conversion jobs completed are structurally sound. They also vary from project to project depending on the features covered by each regulation.
The key elements include but is not limited to fire safety with regards to materials used, insulation and alarm systems, sound insulation, walls, joists and floors, staircase accessibility in case of a fire and load bearing support.
Apart from the requirements above, you may also be faced with additional authorization requirements depending on the following factors.
If you live in a protected historic building, you may face some roadblocks depending on the historic classification grade. Some historic buildings are not eligible for conversions that are bound to alter their original design significantly. So if you live in a historic building, ensure that the changes you wish to make are acceptable by the Heritage Protection Guide. You can find the guidelines on The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings or the Historic England website.
Endangered species habitat
If for some reason, your attic has been inhabited by any protected species such as bats, various bird species, dormice, wart-biter crickets and V-moths, then you will have to shelf your loft conversion plans. You can get the entire list of protected species on www.phlorum.com.
While there are ways to work around it, you will need to hire an ecologist to survey the site and advice on whether you can still convert the loft or not. Even so, your planning permission might still get rejected should they decide to carry out a survey of their own and come to a different conclusion. On the positive side you may still be able to carry on with your conversion if you are successful in getting a mitigation license stating that your project will not endanger the protected species residing in your loft.
Party Wall Agreement
If you live in a detached or semidetached house, you will need to inform you neighbour of your proposed loft conversion especially if the job will affect the shared wall. In this case you will need a Party wall agreement between you and your neighbour stating that the conversion will not affect their property.
You can find templates online that you can then customize to your specifications with regards to you and your neighbours’ situation. If they are reluctant to sign off, you can have an independent surveyor come in and approve your conversion.
In conclusion, you will not need planning permission for your proposed loft conversion if your project stays within the guidelines stated below.
Also do not forget to reinforce the floor below as your current existing floor may not have been built for heavy usage. Ensure you discuss this with your architect, builder or civil engineer.