Building regs and conservatory conversion

The building regulations are quite clear about how they apply to conservatories as new build, but not so clear as conversions.
A conservatory has been in place for a number of years, no problems structurally. But if minor changes are made (which in themselves would not require permission) how would the building regs come to apply?
ie is permission needed to carry out the minor changes, or is permission needed on the basis of 'converting' the conservatory?
The roof should be more than 75% transluscent for it to be classed as a conservatory, but how will the building regs apply if the roof is changed so that it is less than 75% translucent? What does the room become? Does it become an 'habitable room' even though it will not be used like other rooms? Does it become a bedroom or a lounge, could it be a store or a hallway - who decides?
I'm particularly intrested in the structural side of what will be required. If it is to be classed as an extension, then normally an extensions' foundations would be typically 1 metre deep, but a conservatory's only say 500mm. So as part of any conversion work, would the BCO insist on underpinning? Would calculations be required for the [existing] roof structure, as it is not covered in the building regs and thus 'non-standard'.
The gist is, how far can/would a BCO be expected to go in terms of what work would be required?
dg
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have you tried talking to them?
I've always found them very approachable and helpful (here in East Sussex anyway ...)
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But if you are really worried ring up another authority to the one you are in (e.g. East Sussex!).
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In an earlier contribution to this discussion,

I don't know the answer but my guess is that the BCO's biggest concern would be thermal efficiency. If you do something which causes it to become part of the house, and no longer qualify as a conservatory (e.g. by changing the roof or making it open to the house without an intermediate external-grade door) the glass area and U values of all the surfaces will suddenly become very significant.
I wouldn't expect the foundations to be a problem unless you were building a substantial brick structure - in which case you'd be knocking down the conservatory and replacing it with something completely different rather than 'converting' it.
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Roger
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dg wrote:

It all depends on what you are talking about...are you building an extension up to the conservatory? Are you just doing some conversion work without the knowledge of the BCO?
I can't really understand what you are getting at, basically, it's up to you what you do with your conservatory and it's *highly* unlikely that anyone will ever know about it, that is, until you come to sell the property and the buyers solicitor wants to see dates of plans passed, BCO certs, details of visits and of course final inspection certificates. I know people who have had conservatories built (without pp or BCO visits, naturally) and then stripped the poly roof off and put up joists, battens and tiles, and take off the seperating doors - hey presto, a 'free' extension, but if they come to sell it, they either make it back into a conservatory, knock it down or more often, knock a huge chunk off the price of the house and let the buyer do one of the above.
for it to be deemed as living quarters (and they don't care whether it's referred to by you as a bedroom, kitchen or corridor) it needs 150mm of insulation under the floor, which it almost certainly hasn't got, insulation in the walls and footings that go down at least a metre and concrete under the footings of at least 250mm, they can't really insist on bringing this up to spec now though, providing you keep it seperated from the living quarters, double or single doors will suffice, although most BCO's don't even bother insisting on these now as they know they will be on a skip the day after final completion.
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dg wrote:

AIUI *strictly speaking* full building regs approval is needed as it becomes a conversion to part of the dwelling and counts as new build, in the same way as conversion of attic space into a loft conversion.

Yes. I've heard of a case where people wanted to put one of those office-style suspended ceiling grids in to block the sun and could not. Moveable blinds or temporary whitewash is permitted but fixed screens not.

It doesn't matter whether it's a "habitable room" or not, it becomes part of the dwelling. Stores and hallways have to be built to the same general standard as bedrooms as far as structure and insulation etc go. It's only for things like minimum size of windows that a distinction is made with non-habitable rooms like bathrooms, dressing rooms etc. Unconverted lofts are "voids" and part of the structure, rather than rooms in their own right.

*strictly speaking* yes.

To *current* building regulations. In some cases this might mean altering other parts of the house, eg to bring the overall insulation level up or installing interlinked smoke detectors.
If however you are merely replacing the 76% translucent roof with a 74% translucent roof, taking the dwarf walls up to waist height, and making a "sun room" rather than a "proper room", and it's still obvoiusly not a proper room and remains separate from the house, most people will probably still thinks it's a conservatory and won't ask awkward questions.
One other point is that it may affect means of escape from the house in the event of a fire. If the adjoining house room is internal, ie does not have a door direct on to the primary escape route (hall to front door, usually) then it will require a window or door direct to the outside. A conservatory would probably count as outside, as the risk of fire starting or developing in a conservatory is fairly low, but if you convert the conservatory into a room with furnishings the fuel load increases, and the adjoining house room could become sandwiched in the middle of three rooms, which would definately not be allowed.
The adjoining house room may also be relying on the door to the conservatory for daylight and ventilation, which would be obstructed by converting it into a room.
Household possessions in a conservatory might also not be covered by home insurance.
As Phil L says, you can get away with a lot until you try to sell.
Owain
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On Tue, 27 Feb 2007 23:10:25 +0000, Owain

I don't follow. A suspended ceiling is utterly non-structural - it's interior decor. It doesn't affect the roof in any way. It's none of the planners business surely?
Mike -- http://www.corestore.org 'As I walk along these shores I am the history within'
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Mike Ross wrote:

It's Building Regulations rather than Planning, and is because the conservatory is exempt from most Building Regulations. The prohibition is to prevent a conservatory being turned into a proper "room".
It should equally, perhaps, be none of the council's business whether we fit a condensing boiler, or have a washbasin in the loo, but legislation has enacted that it is.
Owain
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On Wed, 28 Feb 2007 15:31:14 +0000, Owain

I still don't follow - it's *not remotely structural*. It's got no more to do with building regs than... wallpaper! You're not touching the conservatory roof.
Have you seen the new solar cells that are coming along? They're just a film, like cling film - next they'll be saying you need permission to put cling film on yer conservatory roof!
Mike -- http://www.corestore.org 'As I walk along these shores I am the history within'
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Mike Ross wrote:

Parts of Building Regs departed from "structural", let alone common sense, years ago.
(BTW, I think you will find that wallpaper is covered by Building Regs, in assessing the flammability of wall coverings on escape routes :-) )

Just wait till we get little implants in our noses to meter the air that we breath.
Owain
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Sorry to hijack this thread but does anybody know the answer to my question. A neighbour wants to 'knock through' from his kitchen/dining area ito his conservatory. In effect he will be taking out the existing back door and kitchen window and making it into a large opening, there will be no doors in the opening it will be just that, an opening. He knows he will need a lintel (or RSJ) but what about permission of some sort? He thinks he can do what he wants as it is his house, I would say he is more than capable of doing the job as he built his own garage a few years ago. I do not have a problem with him doing it at all but do not want him to have any problems if he comes to sell it in the future.
Cheers
John
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Start your own you lazy b*****d ;-)

It will have to be done in accordance with the building regs. Tell him to talk to the BCO at the local authority.
MBQ
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John wrote:

That's what some accountant said on TV the other night when building his own extension, as he was lead off to prison for 3 months and the council moved in to demolish his attempt.

Irrelevant whether he does the work himself or hires a builder, but it is notifiable work, a building regs application must be made to the local council, and the work must comply with building regulations.
Simply put, it *won't* comply with building regs unless he has exterior-grade doors between the house and the conservatory.
Owain
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you obviously have sound only on your tv, i actually saw the pictures and quite frankly the workmanship he demonstrated left a lot to be desired, it was abismal and bordered on being quite scary that someone could actually build something like that and not realise the errors he was making
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Alan wrote:

I do have pictures too, but on a lot of modern programming they don't add much and I work the computer at the same time :-)

The ignorance and arrogance of the man was astounding. And he's an *accountant* - he's supposed to know about following rules.
Owain
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In an earlier contribution to this discussion,

Unless there is currently a *single* lintel spanning both the door and window - allowing them to be removed without needing any alternative support - he will need building regs approval for that part of the structural work.
But that's the easy bit! By removing the barrier between the house and conservatory, the conservatory will no longer be exempt from building regs. See the following from my local council's web site: _________________ Conservatories A conservatory is exempt from building regulations (but not necessarily planning permission) as long as it is;
a.. Less than 30 square metres b.. At ground level in a domestic property c.. At least 50% of new walls are of a transparent or translucent material. d.. At least 75% of the roof is of a transparent or translucent material. e.. It must be separated from the habitable parts of the dwelling by external quality windows / doors. f.. Any glazing below 1500mm in height in doors or within 300mm of a door must be toughened / laminated glass or polycarbonate. g.. Any glazing below 800mm in height must be toughened / laminated glass or polycarbonate. h.. Any heating in the conservatory has it's own separate heating controls and can be completely switched off / isolated when not required. _____________________
The fifth bullet point is the significant one. The result is that the conservatory will have to be brought into compliance with current regs. There may also be a knock-on effect due to the additional heat losses suffered by the house after the removal of the door and window - requiring some thermal efficiency improvements to be made to the house in order to compensate.
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Roger
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