The Building Regulations and Garage Conversions
Garage conversions are regarded as substantial material alterations and therefore demand minimum standards in terms of the way in which the conversions are carried out. These standards are determine d by the Building Regulations and normally monitored by the local authority in which one lives. In addition to the local council it is possible to submit one’s plans for a conversion to a private individual who is am Approved Inspector as far as the council is concerned. When you contact a good architect such as architects Londonthey will be able to advise you of how you go about complying with the Building Regulations and who you contact. There is a tendency for architects and house extension or conversion design specialists to use the local authority’s Building Inspector for their approval of plans whereas garage conversion specialists have a preference for using private approved Building Inspectors. Sometimes these companies have in place an agreement with the local authority to deal with all matters relating to the Building Regulations and compliance.
The insulation characteristics of the garage conversion are the most important element when it comes to compliance with the Building Regulations and normally these characteristics involve improving the original insulation material in the garage, which might have been almost non-existent. There is a degree of flexibility in the way in which these rules are applied. Sometimes the only way of improving the insulation of both the floor and the roof of a garage mean that the difference in height between the new floor and the new roof will become inadequate, necessitating lowering the original floor and / or raising the roof. Both alterations are potentially very costly and if it can be proved that the payback period for the improvement in insulation will be greater than fifteen years, then the regulations will probably permit a less effective insulation type.
Working out the thermal characteristics of a garage conversion requires a bit of calculation using “U” values and a knowledge of energy costs. Sometimes it might be insisted that one uses a particular piece of software to carry out the calculations. This can be an expensive item to acquire and is normally outside the ability of a garage conversion designer. In addition to insulation, the Building Regulations cover such things as lighting, heating, electrical fittings, drainage and waste disposal. If a new toilet, kitchen or bathroom is going to be installed, then obviously there will be more to consider. There is a tendency amongst some homeowners to minimize the importance of compliance with the Building Regulations, particularly if a diy approach is being considered or if budget constraints are apparent. This is not a realistic attitude to take as it is much more likely to lead to a house sale not going through at the last minute when it is realized that a garage conversion or any type of conversion or extension for that matter does not have the appropriate approval.
It is always a smart idea to use a fully qualified house extension designer or architect to prepare and submit plans when it comes to getting approval from a Building Inspector. Note also that planning permission and compliance with the Building Regulations are two separate processes and in many cases one will find that planning permission is not required even when compliance with the Building Regulation definitely is. It is wise to check with the Planning Department of your local authority anyway just to be on the safe side.
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