loft conversion beaurocracy nightmare


A few questions, if anyone can help-
How far retrospectively does "old" conversion work have to be undone/re-done to meet Building Regulations if upgrading an existing loft conversion?
We have a conversion done by a previous owner of the house, at least 20 yrs ago. They didn't get consent or certification, but it was probably up to the standards of the time. The floor is sound, the walls are plasterered and papered, and there are 13 amp sockets. There are Velux windows, but over 2 metres from the roof edge. The floor does not contain fire-proofing and new joists were placed at 90 deg to the old, to support the floorboards.
However, if we "change the use" of this loft space, we have been told we will have to strip out the entire space including replacing the original floor joists (so also the ceilings attached to them), moving the Velux windows, boxing-in the top of the stairs etc to meet current building regs. The problem is that because the owners in 1985 didn't register the work ( ie to the Council, we have a "virgin" loft), *anything* we do is a change of use.
The fact that we've replaced the old staircase which was way too steep and had no headroom, with a safe staircase meeting modern standards of angle, bannister and headroom means we can now use the rooms up there much more easily, and would like to insulate the roof to keep them warmer. But it has been suggested that I'm already in deep trouble for even daring to use my loft rooms, and that any further work must include changes to the whole house (door closers on all internal doors and mains fire-detection systems have been mentioned) as well as the total gutting of the loft mentioned above. All I wish to do is make an EXISTING conversion a bit more comfortable, so is all or any of this correct?? and if I just use my loft as it always has been used, what if anything can the authorities do?
Duncan
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On Tue, 6 Sep 2005 23:14:23 +0000 (UTC), a particular chimpanzee named
produced:

<Snip>
The local authority cannot take any enforcement action under the Building Regulations for any work carried out more than 12 months previously. There is a theoretical chance that an injunction could be brought for a dangerous building, but the chances of that happening are slightly less than being struck by lightening whilst going to collect your lottery jackpot. A 'Regularisation Certificate' cannot be applied for work carried out prior to November 1985.
Why would you need to strip out the existing floor if it's structurally sound? Or do you mean that the joists are resting on the existing ceiling joists? If the latter, then you should be aware that they will not be adequate to support anything more than their own weight.
As for the requirements for fire safety, do a Google Groups search for loft conversions, and the desirability of having a habitable room on the second floor with no fire resisting enclosure. Building Regulations requirements are (mostly) there not for bureaucratic reasons, but for life safety.
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