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Loft Conversions

Do i need building regulations to refurbish a loft conversion which was done ages ago?

We bought a 1905 terraced house, which was sold to us as a 3 bed + bonus room. The bonus room referred to the loft which had been converted years and years ago by one of the previous owners. It was sold as a bonus room because there was no record or document (building regs certificate, etc.) for this loft conversion.
The loft conversion currently consists of the following:
spiral staircase (very space saving, but the balustrade has become very wobbly),
some electric work for lighting and also electric heaters,
some insulation (most likely not up to scratch Vs current building regs),
floor: not sure how to check if this was properly done,
Dormer window looking to the back.

We would like to refurbish the loft (fix stairs to make them more sturdy, fit double glazing for dormer window, fit new velux opposite dormer window to bring in more light, fit built-in cupboard).

Ultimately we want to use the loft as a study/play room. Do study/play rooms count as habitable rooms in which case we would need to re-do the loft conversion entirely with up-to-date building regs? Or can we get away with doing the above refurbishment without building regs?

I'm planning to contact my council's building control department, but wanted to get advice from expert tradesmen too. Sorry for the long question...

=======Update 23/04/11===========
Thanks all for the replies so far. Had further thoughts: so ok we could do the refurbishment (fix spiral stairs, replace wooden dormer window by uPVC double glazing, etc.) without need for building regs, BUT when we come to sell our house, potential buyers could be deterred by the fact that building regs are still missing.
So I think we have 2 options:
option A) have a surveyor come to our house to do a full structural survey of the loft to ascertain the roof structure is sound and the floor is strong enough to be used as bonus room. Providing there is nothing drastically wrong, proceed with refurbishment. Pros: cheaper and quicker job. Cons: building regs still missing which could be a problem when we come to sell our house, but at least we would have a full structural survey to show...
option B) do a full refurbishment to bring loft conversion to current building regs. Pros: peace of mind that structurally all is sound, easy resale of property. Cons: will take more time and cost a lot more than we had planned/budgeted
If anyone has further inputs/comments, they would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

11 Answers from MyBuilder Loft Conversion Specialists

Best Answer

Hello im afraid you are limited to only 2 options
to list the room as an habitabal room when trying to sell you will need building regs
to list the room as storage only you wont need building regs
you will not need full planning as 99% of loft conversions come under permited development and only need planning if in a conservation area or you have already increased the size of your property by over 50%

regards kai


Answered 28th Apr 2011

If the work was done years ago you don't need building regs at all to sell.


Answered 15th Mar 2013

Without building regs the loft is never a room and thus you will not be paid for it when you sell.
Unless the loft is an absolute tip, you will not see any return on money spent on it. (Any informed buyer will knock you down)
Allot will depend on what building inspector you get in, some of them can go to town a bit.
Contrary to general understanding there are actually substantial variations in what building control will "Let go".

What you will need is:
-fire doors to other bedrooms and living rooms to provide "means of escape"
-decent insulation in roof space etc.
-electrics certificate.
-mains connected fire alarm.
-safe stair case and landings.
-assessment that steels and or flooring in general is structurally sound.

The best advise i can offer is for you to "pay" an experienced loft conversion specialist. Someone who is local to you and knows the chaps from building control.

I hope this is helpfull.
Louis Kingwill


Answered 17th Jul 2012

Just go ahaead with building regs, when you sell you will get more money for it. Planning is a different matter....Building regs is a simple form to fill in various inspections and you get a certificate after completion, which puts you in the clear. DONT mess with building regs or councils, do it right first time.........believe me !


Answered 26th Apr 2011

It really depends when the loft room was constructed.

But generally no, unless you are changing the use. It would be an idea if concerned to bring it up to building regs standard.

But you could be opening up a can of worms, i'e more work then you thought.

Would be an idea to have a loft conversion specialist in which to visit your property and look at the various points and give you sound advice.


Answered 22nd Apr 2011

if you were to go ahead and do the works, no one would be the wiser. If you contact the council the will probably demand that full B regs are applied, which may necessitate the taking apart of walls and flooring to see they are insulated correctly and support the weight across the length. these are the main two considerations with loft conversions, there are also electrics b regs to comply with.


Answered 22nd Apr 2011


The most important factor before refurbishing the loft space you currently have, is to ascertain whether the floor is a floating floor or whether the floor is constructed from ceiling joists in a cross pattern ( this was allowed many years ago). To know whether this has been done correctly look for at least 2 large steel sections that are 12"+ high and run from wall to wall.
If there are no steels, then it is likely that the floor is not suitable for a room and will not reach any building regulations and you would be advised not to use it as a room.
I would also assume that the dormer is constructed over the rear wall of the house, should it not be and there are no steels, I would reccomend that you have a professional have a good look at the construction.

Hope this helps
RCL Carpentry


Answered 22nd Apr 2011

Repair and replacement works to fittings such as the stairs (not windows or electrics though) come under the definition of maintenance and repair under the Building Regs so are therefore not controlled.

As the loft conversion has been completed so long ago the Local Authority Building Control cannot take any enforcement action. If you want to bring it up to standard and get that all important completion certificate (which will add value to your house) then invite the Local Authority Building Control round. One option is to consider making a "regularisation application". The Building Regs that were applicable at the time of the construction would be applied. This could be an advantage if for instance there is insufficient thermal insulation by todays standards.

However the structure needs to be sound as an absolute minimum and opening up works would be required to see if what is there is enough.

If the works were carried out before 11th November 1985 then you will be unable to make a regularisation application. Therefore you would need to effectively treat this as a new build which may mean starting over.

Get your local Building Control round and see what options are available.

All the best


Answered 6th Mar 2012

The reason the loft was advertised as a Bonus room is most likey because it was not done to local authority standards. It's also likey there was no engineer involved, a necessary requirement for a modern day conversion. This would tell you exactly what size beams etc to use and what grade of timber etc. Basically it boils down to wether you trust the conversion that's been done, and whether or not you want the loft to be a legitimate part of your home. There's nothing to stop you repairing the stair handrails etc it really just depends on how far you want to take this, and whether or not your happy with the room as it stands.
Hope this help any more question don't hesitate to ask.

Peter Allan


Answered 22nd Apr 2011

You will need to have a look into getting it all certified, but unless you are making any structual work you will not need to get planning to referb it, i hope this helps regards TR


Answered 22nd Apr 2011

A local loft specialist is a good idea. There are many regulations surrounding the use of a loft space and access to it. I’ve even witnessed a case where spiral stairs were not allowed.

The use is another factor. Check with the council if you can or get advice from a loft specialist who will explain the fire regs too etc.

Best of luck.


Answered 11th Jan 2021

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