Loft conversions can bring a number of benefits to your home. It can add value to your property, different types of loft conversion can also give you much needed extra space and improve your energy efficiency. Loft conversions can be an exciting project, and they are the perfect place to unleash your creativity and design an impressive space. However, before you start your exciting project of converting your loft, there are regulations that need to be considered, particularly ones that involve with loft conversion party walls.
Party walls are the walls that you share with your neighbours. You will have a party wall if you live in a semi-detached or terraced house, it is a common wall that is shared with two adjoining rooms or building. If you attempt to undertake structural work on a party wall, then you will need to have a Party Wall Agreement, so that all owners of the party wall agree to the work that is undertaken. Party Wall Agreements are different from planning permission or building regulations approval, but all three will apply for your loft conversion.
A Loft Conversion party wall Agreement is a document that is produced by adjoining wall owners also called Party Wall owners. A Party Wall Agreement is needed to carry out particular work such as to;
For a loft conversion in London, you are likely to need to cut into the party wall to take the bearing of a beam, which also needs to have a Party Wall Agreement.
Before the agreement takes place, you must give notice of your intentions to all owners of the adjoining walls.
It is not necessary to appoint an official advisor nor is there an official form for giving notice to the building owner of the adjoining wall, however, a professional advisor could discuss your planned loft conversion on your behalf. A professional advisor could help if you do not have a good relationship with your neighbours, or if you want to discuss the technical details in depth with your neighbour.
Before starting your loft conversion, you must give notice of your intentions to all adjoining owners, which is stated in the Party Wall Act 1996. The notice must include;
This notice must be served two months before you plan the start the work, so it is advisable to put a date on your notice. Although you must give two months notice, your neighbours may agree for you to initiate the work sooner, but they are not obliged to. This notice is only valid for one year, so make sure you act within the required timeframe. Otherwise, the notice will be invalid.
Once the notice has been served, and the adjoining owners have agreed to your loft conversion you will need to create the agreement. The Party Wall Agreement must be in writing and consist of the following;
If you and your neighbours can't reach a deal for your loft conversion, you will need to appoint an impartial surveyor called an "Agreed Surveyor" to produce a Party Wall Award. If you and your neighbours have appointed surveyors for the agreement, you will need a third surveyor to draw up the award. The surveyor is issued to resolve the dispute in a fair and practical way. At all times, the surveyors must remain impartial and should not be advocates for the respective owners. This way the surveyors will try to create a fair agreement so that the owners are in agreement and the work can proceed.
While it is worth having the full information regarding Party Walls Legislation, this should not be a reason to put you off starting a exciting project and creating your dream loft conversion, whether it is a loft conversion in clapham, central or north London. Take advice, do your homework and enjoy designing your ideal space.