General Public Information

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Loft Conversion Options

Velux Conversion:

Velux are the leading manufacturer of roof windows and with over 60 years experience producing windows the name Velux has become synonymous with this type of conversion. This type of conversion is generally very cost effective and does not normally need planning permission.

Velux windows are installed to fit flush with the line of the roof and leave the existing roof structure untouched. As they do not require extensive alterations to the roof this option helps keep the cost of the conversion down. As the loft is not extended beyond the original roof line, planning permission is not normally required (you should still check with your local planning department before proceeding with any works)

A Velux type loft conversion works very well for lofts where there is a good amount of headroom or if there are constraints on planning, for example if you live in a conservation area. If headroom is going to be limited then either a dormer or mansard conversion may be a better option. Velux roof-lights can be fitted quickly and easily meaning there is minimal disruption or delays due to bad weather.

As Velux windows are installed at the angle of the roof rather than vertically like a normal window they can let in a surprising amount of light. While this is great during the day and will give you a light and airy room it can become a problem at night or in the summer. Window blinds are available from various sources tailor made for Velux windows that perfectly fit into the window frame. You can even get blinds that have a thermal silver backing, great for retaining heat in the winter and keeping it out in the summer.

Dormer conversion:

A dormer is an extension to the existing roof, allowing for additional floor space and headroom within the loft conversion. Dormers protrude from the roof slope, normally at the rear of the property and can be built in a variety of styles. Internally, a dormer will have a horizontal ceiling and vertical walls compared to the normal diagonal sides of a conversion. In lofts that have limited space or headroom a dormer will provide additional space that can make a conversion feasible.

Flat roof dorners tend to give the maximum amount of additional internal space although they do not look as attractive from outside the property. Gable fronted and hipped roof dormers look much more atractive but they often do not give as much internal space and will cost more to build due the extra complexity.

There are different types of dormer:

  • Gable fronted dormer – image!!
  • Hipped roof dormer – image!
  • Flat roof dormer – image!

Hip to Gable Conversion:

A hip to gable conversion involves making fairly major changes to the roof. The gable wall is built up to the ridge line and a new section of roof is built to fill in the gap. As a general rule, houses with hip roofs tend to not have enough internal volume for a conversion to be practical so a hip to gable conversion is the best solution.

A new gable wall will be built either in masonary or studwork. There are several options for the finishing of the masonary gable wall, which include brickwork, blockwork with render or tiled. If the gable wall is built from studwork they are normally finished in render or tiled. In most cases under permitted development allowance, the finish of the new gable wall will match the exisiting walls as close as possible. As a hip to gable conversion changes the outline of the roof planning permission may be required. You will need to determine if the conversion falls within your permitted development allowence. Once the roof has been extended the conversion is normally completed with either velux rooflights or a dormer.

Mansard Conversion:

A mansard roof has two slopes, the lower slope is close to vertical at 72 degrees and the top section of the roof is almost horizontal. This style of roof is named after a 17th-century French architect Francois Mansart (1598-1666) who used this design of roof on many of his buildings. A mansard roof has the advantage of maximising the available space within your loft.

Mansards are commonly built by raising the party/gable walls either side of your house to make the profile for the mansard and then creating the timber frame. Although common on older properties in large cities, Mansards are not often seen in the suburbs. Flat roof dormer conversions tend to be a more popular choice for the ‘average’ 3 bed semi or terrace house due to the reduced cost and simpler construction. A mansard loft conversion will almost certainly require planning permission.

If you would like more information on any of the above conversions, please contact JMA Lofts Ltd.

Planning Permission

What Is Planning Permission?

Planning permission is asking if you can do a certain piece of building work, be this an extension to your house or a new superstore for a major developer. It will be granted, subject to certain conditions or refused.

When Is Planning Permission Required?

You’ll probably need planning permission if you want to:

  • build something new
  • make a major change to your building, eg building an extension
  • change the use of your building

Your local planning authority (LPA) will decide whether to grant planning permission for your project based on its development plan. It will not take into account whether local people want it.

To decide whether a planning application fits with its development plan, an LPA will look at:

  • the number, size, layout, siting and external appearance of buildings
  • the infrastructure available, eg roads and water supply
  • any landscaping needs
  • what you want to use the development for
  • how your development would affect the surrounding area, eg if it would create lots more traffic

In most cases, planning applications are decided within 8 weeks. In England, for unusually large or complex applications the time limit is 13 weeks.

What Do Planning Officers Look For When Deciding On Granting Permission?

Planning applications are decided in line with the development plan unless there are very good reasons not to do so. There are many issues that the Planning Officers will need to consider when reviewing your application. With particular reference to householder applications this may include some of the following:

  • size, layout, siting and external appearance of buildings and extensions
  • the effect of your proposals on any neighbouring properties
  • proposed means of access, landscaping and impact on the neighbourhood
  • proposed use of the development.

All the above information is readily available online, for more information, please get in touch with your local planning office.

Building Regulations

What Is Building Regulations?

The Building Regulations are minimum standards for design, construction and alterations to virtually every building. They are developed by the Government and approved by Parliament. The Building Regulations also contain a list of requirements (referred to as Schedule 1) that are designed to ensure minimum standards for health, safety, welfare, convenience, energy efficiency, sustainability and to prevent misuse, abuse or contamination of water supplies.

These regulations set national standards for building work, whether it be on a major new development or an extension or alterations to your home. They cover all aspects of construction, including foundations, damp-proofing, the overall stability of the building, insulation, ventilation, heating, fire protection and means of escape in case of fire. They also ensure that adequate facilities for people with disabilities are provided in certain types of building.

Building Regulations are regularly being updated, and consist of parts A-P.

  1. Structure
  2. Fire safety
  3. Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture
  4. Toxic substances
  5. Resistance to passage of sound
  6. Ventilation
  7. Hygiene
  8. Drainage and waste disposal
  9. N/A
  10. Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems
  11. Protection from falling, collision, and impact
  12. Conservation of fuel and power
  13. Access to and use of buildings
  14. Glazing safety in relation to impact, opening, and cleaning
  15. N/A
  16. Electrical safety
Party wall Agreement

What is a Party Wall Agreement?

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

A building owner proposing to start work covered by the Act must give adjoining owners notice of their intentions in the way set down in the Act. Adjoining owners can agree or disagree with what is proposed. Where they disagree, the Act provides a mechanism for resolving disputes.

The Act is separate from obtaining planning permission or building regulations approval.

What is a Party Wall?

The main types of party walls are:

  • a wall that stands on the lands of 2 (or more) owners and forms part of a building - this wall can be part of one building only or separate buildings belonging to different owners
  • a wall that stands on the lands of 2 owners but does not form part of a building, such as a garden wall but not including timber fences
  • a wall that is on one owner’s land but is used by 2 (or more) owners to separate their buildings
Permitted Development

What Is Permitted Development?

You can perform certain types of work without needing to apply for planning permission. These are called “permitted development rights”. They derive from a general planning permission granted not by the local authority but by Parliament. A loft conversion for your house is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:

  • A volume allowance of 40 cubic metres additional roof space for terraced houses*
  • A volume allowance of 50 cubic metres additional roof space for detached and semi-detached houses*
  • No extension beyond the plane of the existing roof slope of the principal elevation that fronts the highway
  • No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof
  • Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms
  • Side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor
  • Roof extensions not to be permitted development in designated areas
  • Roof extensions, apart from hip to gable ones, to be set back, as far as practicable, at least 20cm from the original eaves
  • The roof enlargement cannot overhang the outer face of the wall of the original house.

*Bear in mind that any previous roof space additions must be included within the volume allowances listed above. Although you may not have created additional space a previous owner may have done so.

In some areas of the country, known generally as ‘designated areas’, permitted development rights are more restricted. For example, if you live in:

  • a Conservation Area
  • a National Park
  • an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • a World Heritage Site or
  • the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads,

you will need to apply for planning permission for certain types of work which do not need an application in other areas. There are also different requirements if the property is a listed building.

It is advised that you should contact your local planning authority and discuss your proposal before any work begins. They will be able to inform you of any reason why the development may not be permitted.

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