No matter if you need planning permission, your loft conversion will have to meet building regulations approval. 

Building regulations approval is needed to convert any loft or attic in your home into a habitable space.

Planning permission can be subjective and determines whether you can build at all and, if so, what your new home will look like.

Building regulations are designed to protect you and to make sure that any work done you have done structurally sound and safe. It ensures the new room is fire safe and that sound is reasonably insulated between the loft and the spaces below.

Building Regulations (Building Warrant in Scotland) are primarily objective and restrict themselves to the structural aspects of your project’s build.

An application you make for Building Regulations will either conform to the regulations and will be approved, or it will fail to conform and be rejected. However, there is room for pragmatism, and inspectors do have the power to negotiate a relaxation in certain circumstances.

The individual regulations that will apply always depend on the type of conversion you are having built. 

As a guide to start, typical elements that are covered by building regulation include: 

  • Fire safety: Any new room will need to have fire-resistant doors that make the new room fire-safe. Mains-powered smoke alarms will also need to be fitted. 
  • Floor and beams: New floor joists will be needed to ensure the weight of the new room is supported.
  • Sound insulation: You will have to ensure that any noise between the new and existing rooms is sufficiently insulated. 
  • Stairs: New stairs will be required to provide an escape in the event of a fire. You cannot use retractable staircases or ladders. 
  • Walls: any new walls will need to support existing roofs where current supports have been removed. 

There are, of course, several other factors you will to consider when preparing for your conversion. Visit the government planning portal website for more information, or chat with your builder, architect, or local building control for more details.