A building regulation application is needed for roof space or attic conversions where it is intended to provide:
- an extra bedroom
- a bathroom
- a playroom
- a study or office
- a floored storage area
- any other habitable accommodation
Where the intention is to store lightweight items such as suitcases or general household goods then the use of loose boarding is usually satisfactory. An application would not be needed in this instance as long as the storage area is accessed by a ladder with a pitch greater than 55 degrees, and not a new staircase.
Ceiling joists are not normally meant to act as a floor and are not designed to support heavy loads. A building regulations application is needed where the proposed use is for anything other than light storage.
A building regulation application is also needed if any part of the roof structure is going to be altered.
Roof space conversions are sometimes thought to be simple. This is often not the case. They should be designed and constructed carefully by people who are aware of the many health and safety aspects that affect the occupants. Important points to consider include:
- floors, certain walls and doors must be able to resist the effects of a fire for a specified period of time, usually 30 minutes in a typical domestic situation, to ensure safe escape in the event of fire or other emergency
- a safe and easy exit route in the event of fire
- an automatic smoke or heat detection system to give early warning of a fire
- escape windows
- the new floor must be checked to make sure it can safely support the additional loads placed upon it without collapsing or deflecting too much
- ventilation to most room areas to avoid unpleasant conditions
- layout and construction type should allow ventilation, and possibly a vapour check barrier, to avoid condensation
- the walls and roof of the conversion should keep out the weather and dampness and to reduce heat loss
- drainage and ventilation where a bathroom or a shower are be included
Planning consent may be needed in addition to building regulations.
Application plans will not be checked for compliance before or during the works. Compliance with building regulations is only achieved after all necessary inspections have been carried out, and agreed, and a certificate of completion is issued.
The following problems often occur with this type of application:
- where the proposal is to provide a room in the roof space of a 2 or more storey dwelling, it is advisable to discuss the need for fire protection and means of escape with a building control surveyor before any works are commenced
- the existing stairway must end at ground level in a protected area with access to an external escape door, not into a open plan area such as a lounge or other habitable room
- in all cases you should contact a building control surveyor before work commences
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