Altering the layout of a property can be a good idea if you can be sure that the end result will be a more satisfactory home.
In most properties, while you may be able to make dramatic changes, this may not be best for your market. If there are large bedrooms but only one bathroom, consider creating an ensuite shower room in a corner of a bedroom. A cloakroom can often be tucked into spaces such as the cupboard under the stairs, depending on drainage. Roof space, with building regulations, can be used for anything from a study to a Childs bedroom.
It is usually possible to knock down a wall between two small bedrooms and create a larger one. You will need to comply with the building regulations and also take advice from a structural engineer, who will calculate the size of any supporting beams required.
Splitting Up Rooms
If the property has large rooms and you want to divide them, you will need some form of partition. If you are merely building a stud wall to create two bedrooms out of one, or to separate a kitchen from a dining area, or a study from a living area, this is fairly straightforward and you can probably do it yourself. If you are creating two separate rooms out of one, you may need building regulation approval.
Expanding Into The Loft
Lofts, even if the ceilings are low, can provide quite large rooms if well converted. It can be difficult to gain planning permission to raise the ridge height of the roof. Get into the roof space and work out whether you feel there is enough space and head height to justify the expense. Loft conversions are a way of adding extra square footage while only losing the area taken up by the new staircase.
Although they charge a premium, it can end up cheaper to get a specialist loft conversion company to carry out the work as they are geared up to tackle the specific work involved. Get two or three estimates, as these may vary considerably and check exactly what each covers, looking carefully at the clauses about insurance. Ask to see an example of the company’s work. Agree everything in writing, including the size and frequency of the stage payments you will have to make.
If you are going to organise or even do the conversion yourself, you must take advice from am architect, surveyor and/or structural engineer. The work will have to comply with building regulations and may need planning permission. A professional will be able to advise about this.
Regulations For Loft Conversions
Because you are effectively adding another storey to your living space there are fire regulations to which you must adhere. This generally involves creating a route of escape down through the house that is protected against fire. This route cannot pass through another habitable room. You will need to either fireproof existing doors or install fire doors with self-closures along this route to meet the necessary regulations. A fire protection officer or building regulations officer will need to be satisfied that your changes comply with regulations.
Extending At Ground Level
Extending the property at ground level can make all the difference to the feeling of space. You may want just a few metres extra to fit in a porch for coats and boots, or a downstairs cloakroom. On a larger scale, you may want to build a full-scale conservatory with doors opening out onto the garden.
Whatever type of extension you want, there are a number of factors to take into account, and it really is best to get some expert advice.
As a general rule, you will find it difficult to get approval to dramatically extend the roadside elevation or raise the ridgeline of your house. Any proposed roof terrace is unlikely to be approved if it overlooks neighbouring gardens.
Planning guidelines often change and you will need to check with your local authorities to keep up to date or employ an architect who will be familiar with the guidelines and help you come up with a proposal that is likely to be approved.