As seen on the Channel 4 shows


Loft Conversions and Regulations: Your Ultimate Guide

Bespoke Lofts - loft conversions specialists

Something that worries many people who are about to undertake a loft conversion is the amount of rules and regulations that surround the build. Of course, if you are using a specialist loft conversion company, then you will know that they will have everything taken care of for you. But if you still want to get ahead of the game and find out just what you need to know in terms of loft conversions and regulations, here’s our ultimate guide.

Do I need a Party Wall Agreement for a loft conversion?

If your property adjoins another property, you’re probably wondering whether you need a party wall agreement with your neighbours before your loft conversion takes place.
The simple answer is that, according to the Party Wall Act 1996, you will need a party wall agreement in place if you need to work on a shared wall or other shared structure. This is almost always the case with a loft conversion, as the party walls are usually the best option in terms of load bearing walls.

A party wall agreement will give you written consent from your neighbours that they are allowing the building works you intend to carry out to go ahead. For loft conversions, this notice must be served at least two months before the planned start of the works.
You will need a party wall agreement for works such as:

  • Inserting a damp proof course along the adjoining wall
  • Cutting the wall for use as a load bearing wall for a beam
  • Removing a chimney breast from the party wall
  • Underpinning the whole thickness of the party wall

These are just a few examples of the work that may need to be carried out on the party wall, and as such you can see there are often circumstances forming part of a roof space build which require a party wall agreement in place.
It is possible that you may not need a party wall agreement (for a detached house, for example, or if you are building a purpose built column to support the supporting beam, rather than using the party wall) but if you’re at all unsure, speak to your loft conversion specialists from the outset and they will advise whether such an agreement is needed.

How does Permitted Development work in terms of a loft conversion?

Permitted Development grants rights to homeowners to undertake certain types of building work without needing to apply for planning permission. This means that in some circumstances, a loft extension can be carried out without the need for planning permission, so long as it falls within the guidelines of Permitted Development.

To do so, amongst other things, your loft extension must:

  • Be no more than 50 cubic metres volume of additional roof space for detached and semi-detached houses
  • Not include a window in any wall or roof that forms a side elevation on the house
  • Not have an altered roof pitch
  • Have obscured or frosted side windows
  • Use similar materials to that of the original house
  • Have windows that are non-opening if they are less than 1.7m from floor level
  • Have a dormer wall that is set back at least 20cm from the existing wall face

If your proposed loft conversion fits within these parameters, it may be that you do not require planning permission. You’ll also need to ensure that no other previous extension to your home has taken up your Permitted Development rights previously.

Remember, if you plan on any works such as a dormer window, you will likely need planning permission, as you will be altering the structure and aesthetics of the roof. Speak to your loft conversion contractors about what can be achieved within Permitted Development and whether you’ll require planning permission.

Is planning permission always required?

It’s not always the case that you’ll require planning permission when carrying out a roof build, however, without planning permission you’ll be quite limited to what you can and can’t do. It may be that you can carry out your loft extension within your Permitted Development rights, but it must adhere to the guidelines set out above.

If you are planning on any work that alters the roofline of your house, for example, adding a dormer window, creating an L-shaped dormer or a hip-to-gable conversion, you will require planning permission, as you’ll be altering both the structure and the aesthetics of your existing roof.

What are the fire regulations for loft conversions?

Fire regulations are very important when it comes to a loft conversion. For example, there should be a smoke alarm on every floor of your home that is used as living accommodation, including your new attic room.

Similarly, your loft conversion specialist will need to ensure that your walls are fire resistant to keep fire away from neighbouring properties, and first floor ceilings will need to have at least 30 minutes fire resistance.

Escape routes are an important factor when planning your loft conversion too, either to an outside door or, if applicable, an escape window. This route should be protected, potentially needing specialist fire-resistant plaster-boarding and plastering, and staircases that form an escape route need to be fire resistant for 30 minutes, too.

Do you need fire doors in a loft conversion?

Fire doors are also an essential regulation within an attic conversion. Any existing doors will need to be changed to fire-rated fire doors and should have self-closure facilities.

This isn’t just for the entrance into the roof space itself, but also for any other doors which form part of the escape route out of the loft in case of fire.

Need more help with the regulations for loft conversions? Talk to Bespoke Lofts

If you’re still not sure what you need to do regarding the regulations for loft conversions, get in touch with Bespoke Lofts. As specialists in every type of attic conversion, you can rely on us not only to carry out your roof build to the highest standards, but also to ensure that every regulation is adhered to.

Back to News