News Article

Can you Convert the Loft Space in your Top Floor Flat?

02.02.15

London loft extensions are becoming increasingly popular within top floor flats and apartments, and are a great way of adding an extra room in what could otherwise be a small property.

However, before you get to the wonderful end product, you do need to be aware of some additional rules that apply to converting the loft space of top floor flats. Here’s a quick guide to the basics of apartment loft conversions:

Leasehold Considerations

First things first, leasehold considerations are one of the most important aspects that you need to get right when converting a top floor flat. Regardless of whether you occupy the top floor apartment and are able to use the loft space for storage, there are likely to be leasehold implications if you wish to convert the space to habitable use.   For example, you may own the freehold of the flat itself, but not the loft or roof. Or you may only own a share, and will then need to get permission of, and in some cases buy out, the other freeholders. You may even own the freehold to the roof and loft floorboards, but not the space in between.   Check your leasehold and / or freehold agreement to see exactly what you can and can’t do, and then approach the freeholder(s) as necessary. If you do need to buy out other freeholders, you will need to take legal advice and have a legally binding contract drawn up.   

Planning Permission

Once you've ironed out any creases in the freehold, you’ll need to speak to your local council about planning permission. Flats often do not have the right to permitted development as houses do, so you may need to submit full plans.   Furthermore, your local planning authority may also need you to make provisions for other residents in the flat, such as moving water tanks housed in the loft or relocating pipes to other properties as required.   Fire Safety   Once you have permission to carry out the work, as with any loft conversion you’ll need to comply with building regulations and fire safety rules. In a building consisting of more than two stories, you’ll need to check with your planning department what their expectations are for escape in the event of a fire.   You may need to install a ‘New York’ style exterior fire escape, in which case you’ll need to obtain the permission of the residents below you to use the space around their properties, as well as the council and freeholders.   

Party Walls

Because of the communal nature of flats and apartments, you may have to obtain more party wall agreements than you would in a standard loft conversion within a house.   Make sure you keep all parties informed of your intentions at all times to help smooth over any troubles, and take extra care with the likes of sound proofing so as to not disturb your neighbours too much.   It may seem like there are a lot of hurdles to jump when it comes to converting a top floor flat’s loft space, but you can be guaranteed that the end result will be well worth it. Not only could it potentially double the size of your home, but in space-strapped London, you’ll certainly have a great chance of adding value.

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