Loft conversion building regulations you may need to consider

Carrying out a loft conversion in your home can be a great way of adding an additional room to your property, and it can also give you a chance to increase the value of your residence. A 2011 survey conducted by Halifax and reported by The Guardian showed that ‘experts say [loft conversions] can increase the value of a property by an average of ?20,876, at a cost of about ?10,000’. This could give you an amazing price for your property should you ever choose to sell it, or you may just want to boost the equity of your home in case you ever need to access this money.

However, if you would like to carry out a loft conversion there will be a number of safety guidelines that you will need to be aware of, even if you will be bringing in the professionals to do the job for you. You will want to make sure that the contractors that you choose carry out the job properly, so you should take note of everything that they do and ensure the following guidelines are followed:

The loft flooring

Because your current loft space won’t have been built to be used how you would like to after a conversion, it won’t be able to support the weight of your new room should you leave the structure as it is now. You will need to have steel joists placed alongside the rest of your new loft flooring, as well as having steel joists inserted into the new ceiling to hold everything up. Loftconversion.com has an excellent video explaining the use of steel joists in loft conversions.

Fire Safety

New loft conversions will also need to come with a means of escape to comply with fire safety laws. Loft-conversion-uk.com explains where the building regulations stand on escape routes from loft conversions: “The building regulations stipulate that there must be a protected escape route all the way from the loft to the ground floor exit door. This ‘protected corridor’ must have passive fire protection of at least thirty minutes’.

It isn’t just an escape route that you will need in your loft conversion though; fire doors will also be required. However, as aboutloftconversions.co.uk explains, ‘fire doors may not be required for non inhabited rooms such as bathrooms and cupboards if they are deemed a low fire risk’, so you should always check which doors will need to be fireproof. Also, ‘when installing new fire rated doors don’t forget that the hinges should also be fire rated’. This is very important as without fireproof hinges these doors could quickly be rendered useless against a fire.

Loft staircases

If you will be building a new staircase to provide access to your new loft conversion you will need to comply with the building regulations yet again. As website pearstairs.co.uk explains, ‘for loft conversions the headroom will pass the building regulations if the centre of the stair width is 1.9m reducing to 1.8m at the side of the stair’ – this is done to ensure there is no health and safety risk. If the stairs didn’t have this required amount of headroom there could be an increased risk of hitting your head when going up the stairs.

It is also important to note that you cannot construct ladder access to a loft conversion that is being used as a bedroom. RHS Limited explains why this it: ‘Traditional loft areas are used for storage and are accessed infrequently by a hatch door and a ladder … Once you introduce loft stairs to access the same area it becomes more usable and more accessible for more regular use. The fact that it is likely to be used more often increases the risk of accidents while ascending or descending the loft stair; it becomes reasonable to expect tighter control on what you are allowed to do’.

If you will be converting your loft space you will need to make sure that it complies with building regulations.

Image via Creative commons at Flickr, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanais/

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