Loft conversions and party wall agreements

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When you’re preparing to undertake loft conversion work, there’s a great deal you need to consider. It is essential, in particular, to take the relevant rules and regulations into consideration. Most loft conversions don’t require planning permission, but they do have to be compliant with the Building Regulations. If your property is a terraced or self-detached house, another factor to bear in mind is the Party Wall Act.

What is the Party Wall Act?

Basically, the clue is in the name – the Party Wall Act ensures that any work on a party wall (or ceiling) shared by neighbouring properties has to be subject to a party wall agreement. Loft conversions in terraced or semi-detached properties are therefore subject to the regulations laid out in the legislation. The legislation also grants property owners the right to carry out certain work (governed by the act) including:

  • Underpinning the thickness of a party wall
  • Demolishing or rebuilding a party wall
  • Increasing the thickness of a party wall, or raising its height
  • Cutting into a party wall to insert a damp proof course

The main function of the Party Wall Act is to prevent disputes arising once work has begun.

What obligations does the Party Wall Act impose?

As we’ve already touched on, the Party Wall Act means that if you live in a terraced or semi-detached home and you want to have your loft converted, you’ll need to obtain the consent of the other party or parties concerned. This is what is known as a party wall agreement, and it needs to be put down in writing before work starts. Prior to reaching a party wall agreement, the homeowner who wishes to undertake the loft conversion will need to serve a party wall notice on those neighbours who will be affected by the work.

Homeowners are required to give two months’ written notice in advance of work affecting a party wall. Again, all neighbours who are set to be affected by the work must be notified in this way. A lot of people fail to do this, which can cause serious complications further along the line. Neighbours issued with a party wall notice then have 14 days in which to respond.

There are no formal enforcement procedures where homeowners fail to submit a party wall notice (or submit an inadequate one) before commencing work. However, neighbours may be entitled to stop this work by seeking a court order if they have not been properly notified. If you seek the assistance of a specialist loft conversion firm, you’ll be guided through this process step by step. The Econoloft team have years of experience in dealing with the regulatory requirements of loft conversions – get in touch today to find out more.

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