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We all know about loft conversions in one way or another. Pretty much everybody has set foot in a converted loft, and a loft conversion is a fantastic way of increasing your property’s value.
Converting your loft space is a relatively straightforward, inexpensive and quick way to increase the usable space in your home. More importantly, a professionally designed, planned, and executed loft conversion can also significantly boost the value of your property, as a result of the extra square footage of space.
Typically, loft spaces are converted into new bedrooms, studies or bathrooms. The only real limits are your budget and – sometimes – the opinion of your local authority’s planning officers.
1. Permitted Development
Without getting bogged down in all the technical jargon, you can carry out a loft conversion to most residential houses without the need for planning permission, as long as those changes fall within ‘Permitted Development’ legislation.
However, there are limits about how much you may increase the roof space and how high the conversion can be. You must also use materials that give a similar appearance to the original house. There are some other more technical exceptions that you can discuss with your architect.
Yet, the good news for homeowners is, apart from these few exceptions, if you stay within the criteria you may carry out a loft conversion without even needing to apply for planning permission.
2. The importance of planning expertise
Many architects and builders are aware of what can and can’t be constructed under Permitted Development, but legislation is always changing and not every architect or builder has the time to pay close attention to changing minor legal developments that can have a large impact on the size and design of your loft conversion. This is in no way a criticism of builders or architects. They are, after all, specialists in their own fields, rather than planning specialists in planning policy.
To give one example, there was an amendment made to Permitted Development legislation in 2015 that means that a loft conversion, like the one shown in the picture below, now falls outside Permitted Development and needs planning permission, but would have been allowed before 2015.
To ensure that your carefully designed and planned loft conversion falls within permitted development, you should speak to a planning consultant.
ADARA has long appreciated the essential role a planning consultant can play in seeking planning permission. If you contact one of our planning permission experts, you will be consulting a professional who has worked within the planning department of a Local Authority – it is their specialism.
3. Lawful Development Certificates
It’s precisely because of our experience of having worked directly for the Local Authority that we can advise whether your proposals would be considered permitted developments or not. If they are, we can help you apply for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC), which confirms that your plans are legal for planning purposes before converting your loft.
When you do it every day, as we do at Adara, obtaining approval for an LDC can be a reasonably straightforward process that doesn’t take too long. In the wrong hands however, a lack of experience means an LDC application could be refused.
Obtaining an LDC gives you the essential peace of mind that you can build without fear of an unwelcome knock on the door from the planning department after you’ve gone to the trouble and expense of converting your loft.
Thankfully, it doesn’t happen too often, but throughout the years we’ve seen cases where homeowners have been assured by their architect or builder that their loft conversion didn’t need planning permission, only to have to undo all the work months later. This is a costly and expensive mistake.
4. What should I do next?
The question of whether you need to obtain a Lawful Development Certificate is one of the reasons why you should speak with a planning specialist. It is best to speak to a planning consultant as soon as you start thinking about converting your loft space – but you can also approach our experts when you have got some way down the line.
At Adara, we provide a free initial consultation. We can guide you along the correct path and talk you through the process of applying for an LDC or making a planning permission application, depending on the appropriate action. We’re always available to hear about your ideas and plans, so do please feel free to call us on 0208 446 6622 or email us at email@example.com.
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