Loft Conversion question.

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keyplus90 | 22:18 Tue 06th Mar 2012 | Home & Garden
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I am planning to get my loft done to have a bedroom for the kids and a small toilet and shower. I have spoken to a builder but he asked me to get the plan sorted first. He asked me to contact architecture. My simple question is that what would architecture do? Do I need his services for legal reasons? Can a builder do the loft without architecture? Or does the architecture sorts building regulations with the council as I believe that no planning permission is needed for loft conversion. Any help or information would be appreciated.


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Yes an architect will draw up plans to ensure that the builders build it to current regulations. Loft spaces intended as living areas rather than storage need to have staircases built to certain standards and other doors in your house may need to be made fire resisting.
In some circumstances you do need planning permission. Check the rules here:

However you will definitely need approval under the Buildings Regulations:
It clearly makes sense to use the services of an architect who is familiar with the Regulations which will apply to the work you want done, rather than to get the work done and then be refused approval.

It can be a nuisance. I contacted a builder once about replacing the ramshackle single story kitchen extension I had with something much the same but a better build. He inisted I get an architect to draw up plans. Having this unexpected additional cost I decided rather than do a straight replacement I'd make a few minor improvements. Having paid for the plans the builder then looked at them and said he wasn't interested. And it was only because of him I bought them in the first place !
Speak to your local council before you do anything else. They'll tell you exactly what you need to do.
Speaking to your local council will merely confirm that in some circumstances you may need planning consent, and you will have to have drawings done for Building Regs approval in respect of a minimum of:
structural strength of the joists
thermal performance of the new loftspace wrt insulation
ventilation from the windows
performance of the structure for persons to get out in the event of fire. On a two storey property having a third storey this will normally mean creating a fire exit corridor down two flights of stairs. The usual way to do this is to convert all the internal doors that feed onto the landing and stairs to 30 minute fire-doors.
Question Author
Thanks to all of you for all of the good information given. My local council (on their website) says that planning permission is not needed if kept within 4 to 5 restrictions they have mentioned. None of them apply to me. I was not sure about building regulations and that is the reason I just wanted to confirm. So in other words architecture will take care of those matters. I will get someone to do that because last thing you want is to spend 25k to 30K on something which you later find is not within the legal limits.

Thanks to all of you and I would add architecture cost into my estimation.
There is one other possible route to go down. There are two ways of complying with Building Regulations, Full Plans, or a Building Notice.
Naturally, Full Plans needs someone to draw up every little detail. Building Notice needs no drawings. The on-site details are discussed by the builder and the Building Control guy. I use this method a lot, but many builders don't want the added responsibility, so they play safe and ask the client to provide full drawings.
Loft conversions are not terribly "high-tech". The other considerations of insulation, sound etc tend to be more "technical".
If you can't find a builder willing to go with a Building Notice, then think about employing one of the many Designers/Building Technicians who are about.
Full blown Architects do tend to concentrate rather too much on design and aesthetics. That's great for the right project, but sometimes you only need a competent technician.
I am an extra-specially competent Technician.......:o)

As a rough guide I would probably charge somewhere about £300-£350.......but that it, naturally, site unseen and with the minimal description you have given.
Haha .................. Jack, I was hoping you would turn up. :o)
Keyplus, unless your builder is very experienced and above all, approachable, I would take Jack up on her offer. It's a small investment to make to keep your builder and the Building Inspector very happy :o)))
Hang on........we haven't negotiated travel expenses, yet !!! Lol

keyplus - Have a look in your Yellow Pages (or equivalent) for Architectural Technologists/Technicians and ring around....OR......have a look on your Local Authority Planning website for recent similar applications and make a note of the 'Agent's Details'.

Good luck!
Question Author
i have approached someone used by this builder and recomended by one neighbour. Lets see how much he will charge.
ps there is a fee for submitting plans for building control - i think in the region of £250

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