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Loft Conversions

Buying a house with loft conversion, no building regulations

Hi, I am in the process of buying a house that was advertised as 4 bedrooms - 3 on the first floor and one in the loft. However, having had a homebuyers' survey and also having visited the property with a builder to look at some works required, it seems unlikely that the loft conversion (which is recent - i.e. less than 10 years old) was done to Building Regs. It is a 1910 semi and the loft conversion has retained the original, quite steep (but less than 70 degrees) wooden staircase. There is no fire door and the staircase is separated from the main landing by wooden panelling rather than a plasterboard dividing wall. There is no linked smoke alarm system and no fire doors on any of the first floor rooms.

My questions are:
1. Should the house have been advertised as 3 beds with loft room given the apparent lack of Building Regs compliance?
2. If we go ahead with the purchase, would we need full Building Regs approval for works to make the room fire safe, i.e. fire door, plasterboard wall etc.? If so would the Building Regs assessment take into account everything else about the conversion e.g. support for the roof and floor, so would we potentially end up pretty much having to start again from scratch?
3. If we could get the work done to make the room more fire safe without needing Building Regs, would we then be in a position of having to advertise the house as 3 beds should we come to sell at a later date?

Thanks in anticipation of your help. I have also asked my solicitor and surveyor for advice but I'm impatient hence asking here as well!

1 Answer from a MyBuilder Loft Conversion Specialist

Best Answer

If the conversion has not been carried out under building regulations, then it should not be classed as a 4 bedroom. If you were happy to buy the property as a 3 bedroom and then looked to make the a formal application to building control for a loft conversion, you will probably be starting again. Work that would need to be done is ensuring the floor in the loft is suitable and should also be receiving loading from the roof if steel beams have not been put in. The staircase must have a 2m head height clearance (with some tolerance) with a pitch not exceeding 42 degrees, max rise of 220, min tread of 220mm. Hard wired smoke alarms required on all floors (interlinked) and all doors throughout the escape route (hallway) to be 30min fire doors, excluding bathrooms.
On a lot of loft conversions, one of the rooms will have to be reduced in size to accommodate the staircase. If this room is reduced it may be too small to be considered as a bedroom thus after all the work, you may still be left with a 3 bedroom property.
Hope that helps


Answered 28th Aug 2014

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