Why have loft and garage conversions?

If you have all the living space you need downstairs but are lacking bedrooms and bathrooms, then a loft conversion can be the perfect way to bring your home into proportion. Most are used for an extra bedroom or two with en-suite bathroom. Other popular uses include a teenage den, cinema room or home office. If your home has amazing views, you could consider moving some of the living spaces up into the new loft to take advantage of them.

You may of have the thought of making alterations to your home to enhance the storage facilities or to simply increase the available living space within your area. If you are planning to make any loft space or garage more accessible or more habitable, and extensive work to be required, then the Building Regulations are likely to apply.

Planning permission is not normally required. However, permission is required where you extend or alter the roof space and it exceeds specified limits and conditions.

A loft conversion for your house is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:

A volume allowance of 40 cubic metres additional roof space for terraced houses

A volume allowance of 50 cubic metres additional roof space for detached and semi-detached houses

No extension beyond the plane of the existing roof slope of the principal elevation that fronts the highway

No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof

Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house

No verandas, balconies or raised platforms

Side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor

Roof extensions not to be permitted development in designated areas

Roof extensions, apart from hip to gable ones, to be set back, as far as practicable, at least 20cm from the original eaves

The roof enlargement cannot overhang the outer face of the wall of the original house

Planning permission is not usually required, providing the work is internal and does not involve enlarging the building.

Sometimes permitted development rights have been removed from some properties with regard to garage conversions and therefore you should contact your local planning authority, Ashford Borough Council before proceeding, particularly if you live on a new housing development or in a conservation area.

Almost all lofts are suitable for conversion

Lofts with a minimum head height of 2.3m are usually seen as fit to convert, although obstacles like chimneys or water tanks, as well as the pitch of the roof, can also affect this decision.

If the roof space is less than 2.3m, don’t throw away your dreams of a conversion, as there are other options available. Removing sections of the roof, or all of it, makes it possible to gain the required headspace, however, this adds to the cost and requires planning permission, unlike a more simple conversion. Alternatively, it is possible to lower the ceiling of the rooms below – again, this is a more costly. You could also opt for a modular conversion – built off site and installed afterwards.

Creating a habitable space

The list below shows some typical examples of what is considered to be habitable spaces for a loft or garage conversion:

  • Bedroom
  • Play/Hobby room
  • Office/study
  • Bathroom

If you decide to create a habitable space in an existing loft space or garage of a home, it is likely to require a range of alterations. Many of these could have an adverse impact on the building and its occupants if they are not properly thought out, planned and undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the legislation.

Sound insulation

Sound insulation is required for habitable rooms. With a terraced or semi-detached house, the building control body may also ask for sound insulation between the converted loft and the neighbours’ loft to be improved, and a test of the insulation to be carried out, but this will depend on the neighbours allowing access for the testers.

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