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Find answers to common home extension issues, questions you may have, planning permission and building regulations questions.

At what point does improving the loft space become an illegal loft conversion?

At what point does improving the loft space become illegal loft conversion? I have a tight loft (1.9 meters) and don't want to go to the disruption of lowering ceilings or adding dormers, and I'm not interested in formally adding a room to the house specs (no intention of moving out any time soon), but would like to make the space more usable by adding a more semi-permanent ladder (eg. one that stays down most of the time but could still be raised), door access, window, insulated rafters, better boarding down and carpet, lighting. But does that cause any problems down the line? Do you still need permission or building regulations inspections to make those improvements?

Andy Boothroyd - 27/07/2022
loft storage or a loft conversionloft storage or a loft conversion
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REPLIES:
BY:
In my book that's a habitable room. And will need permanent stairs.
Ian Clarke
Building regs... a fire door and proper stairs at the top. Best to ask a builder. If the building inspector catches you out, they will make you do is reinstate it back to its original condition.
Nick Daniel
Nick Daniel so does that mean it would need to have a minimum height if you get building regulations compliant? Eg. 2m? So does that basically mean it isn't possible, it's either lower ceilings etc to get to 2m and do it all properly, or you can't really do anything beyond loft boards and a loft ladder? There isn't really an in-between?
Andy Boothroyd
in all honesty, you can do what you like, BUT should you ever try to sell it or need to claim on any insurance for anything even loosely related to it, it will come back to bite you, as soon as you start adding lights, sockets, insulating the rafters and carpet you've basically gone down the route of a non-regs conversion and you could land yourself in a bit of grief
Andy Flint
I’ve converted hundreds of lofts. Every loft conversion to building regulations.
So here’s my definitive answer.
If you cut through a rafter, if you fit a window, if you fit a stairs, if you insulate if it looks habitable. You will need building regs.
Here’s why.
Structural implications, fire escape logistics and then ventilation implications.
Technically that magic number of 2m is relaxed by most building regulations services down to 1.9 m
This is also on the top step so by adding a landing you can sometimes get around low-roof lofts .
For all building regs care you can crawl around your loft as long as you have that 1.9m on the stairs.
Then there’s the ventilation issue. You need 50mm air gap above your insulation and must make sure there’s no conflict as condensation is going to eventually rot your rafters.
As for structure I’ve seen some really bad errors over my 27 years converting lofts, some easily fixed some meaning a full roof restructure.
Anyone telling you that you can do what you like but
I’ve also met people that have been legally made to undo every bit of work. ( usually, as soon as the window went in and the jealous neighbour phoned the council )
The only way you’ll be safe is to ring the council and ask them what you can do.
Paul William Woodcock
It’s actually the head height clearance on the staircase that matters anyway 2.2 metres for a habitable space for fire regulations building control sign-off, there’s no head height for the actual loft storage or bedroom.
Sian Peddle
There is NO MINIMUM ceiling height for a loft conversion, even for Building Regs, strange but fact! There is however a minimum ‘pitch height’ for the stairs. It can be as low as 1.9m if the layout is restrictive and BC officer is satisfied with the circumstances
Geoff Mannian
I'd suggest engaging someone who understands how to design to the Building Regulations thoroughly, e.g. an architect or architectural technician to propose a design - builders aren't usually designers.
Then take advice from there.
James Kitchen
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