Loft conversion

Ok big subject I know. I am looking at purchasing a property that has had a loft conversion, all done by a reputable, professional company. The roof has been insulated as it should have been and the floor has been strengthened. 3 Velux windows are installed and one is an escape.
It comprises of a single room accessed from the landing area of the original house via a metal spiral stair. Apparently panning permission and building regs have not been sought as to comply it required massive changes to the house. As the house is a period cottage these changes would not be desirable and would detract from the property.
I have looked over the regs and I can see that it looks like the following items are the problems.
1. There is no door separating the 2nd floor from the first. To do this the only way I can see would be to add a false landing area and create a new wall with door at the top of the spiral stair. This will take up a great deal of space in that area as the house is not exactly big in the first place, making a door at the bottom would not be possible due to space. Is there an alternative?
2. The door at the bottom of the stair from the ground floor to the first floor needs to be replaced with a fire door. This is a pity as it is an original door. Again is there an alternative.
3. All the doors on the first floor need to be fitted with some kind of self closing mechanism, I guess rising hinges is the least intrusive, but again this may detract from the property, although not as much as some of the other things.
4. And this is the big one. I struggle to see this in the regs but the builders told them that as the door from the first floor exits to the kitchen at the back of the house a false corridor would need to be constructed to give direct access to a final escape. To do this would mean losing a good chunk out of the kitchen and either escaping in the lounge at the front or ripping out a very nice fireplace where the range used to be. Is this true? again any alternatives?
Any help you can give me would be very greatly appreciated, I love this house and don't want a silly thing like this to bugger up the purchase, from what I can tell the vendors have been told they will have to get building regs before the sale can go through, to be honest if I can sort out the issues myself I would rather they left well alone and I did it. I need to know what needs doing before I tackle that one.
Many thanks
Steve
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sven wrote:

Why does there need to be a firedoor seperating floors? - these re not required in other houses.

Yes, leave it as it is.

I think you have read the PP rules wrong, why do upstairs doors need to be self closing? - I've never seen a house where these are in place, unless it is split into seperate living quarters, IE upstairs and downstairs flats.

Who has come up with all this tripe? - if it's builders, I would suggest getting someone else in, if it's solicitors (or someone instructed by solicitors) then it's a ploy to get the price reduced....if you really want the house, contact the seller and organise a survey, paid for by both of you 50/50....this sounds suspiciously like the work of a solicitor to me.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Almost none of it is "tripe" as it is all quite standard for loft conversions under all local authorities. The first floor represents a fire escape route from the second. All doors opening onto this route are required to be fitted with self-closers (aside from "wet" rooms, eg bathroom/toilet). Any new doors or old glazed doors must be fire doors. Usually solid originals (even if crap) can remain (which IS an anomaly). There will be a requirement for a 30 minute fire break between the loft conversion and the rest of the house, hence the door and walling to separate. As the rest hasn't been done, there is a possibility that there is insufficient fire protection through the first floor ceiling. You would probably also need linked fire alarms, but that's a small point. This is all to comply with the standard regulations. You do have the option of buying it anyway and not complying with the regulations, of course, which you may be comfortable with if no-one is ever going to sleep in the loft (who are most at risk from fire). The Velux as fire escape is also a requirement but it is to be accessible from the road by fire brigade ladder (usually within 1500mm or so of gutter) so you can be rescued in the 30 minutes the rest gives you.
--
Bob Mannix
(anti-spam is as easy as 1-2-3 - not)
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Bob Mannix wrote:

Thanks Bob, useful information, what about the issue with the first floor exiting to the kitchen at the back of the house (you can get out to the back garden from here) does this cause a problem. I can see how the other items can get sorted without a great deal of problems, from what I have been told the floor was sorted out as it should have been, I will need to check to be sure if that includes the fire protection, at this point I am assuming it does, however a corridor needs constructing to enable access directly to a final exit it will mess the house up completely. The stairs exit in the middle of the house.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Phil L wrote:

It was the builders from what I have been told and nothing to do with the solicitors. The work was carried out about 2 years ago. I do want this house so maybe a survey is the way forwards. Thanks for the advice.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Phil L wrote:

No offence intended Phil, but it strikes me you have not read up on the building regs issues for loft conversions. None of what the OP described falls into the "tripe" catagory.
--
Cheers,

John.

/=================================================================\
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
John Rumm wrote:

So what's the point of a fire escape Velux in the loft? 'Reputable, professional companies' as mentioned in the OP don't convert without plans / planning permission / BCO visits, even most smaller builders wouldn't touch it without these.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Phil L wrote:

To enable you to be rescued using a ladder outside the property.
The purpose of the regulations regarding control of the spread of fire between stories is to keep you alive long enough for someone to get the ladder!
The two things, while related, are very different.

maybe[1] / that depends[2] / yes I agree / probably true! ;-)
[1] Full plans are usually drawn, however a small single room conversion could probably be done on a building notice.
[2] Many conversions will not require planning permission.
--
Cheers,

John.

/=================================================================\
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Phil L wrote:

It is required for *three storey* properties. Most houses are two storey.

Nothing to do with planning permission; it's building regulations.
The risk of death from fire is significantly greater in properties >2 storeys, hence the regulations.
Owain
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 29 Mar 2006 16:56:37 +0100, Sven wrote:

Don't touch it with a bargepole.
--
Nigel M

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Nigel Molesworth wrote:

easy to say you have not seen that place. Easily the best property I have seen in ages and just what I am looking for.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sven wrote:

I may be completely naive about building regs etc, but why shouldn't the sale be allowed to proceed without Building regs compliance?
If the purchaser knows the facts and is not being mis-guided then what's the score.
Surely you can sell your property to whoever you choose in whatever state you choose if the purchaser is happy to purchase?
--
http://gymratz.co.uk - Best Gym Equipment & Bodybuilding Supplements UK.
http://trade-price-supplements.co.uk - TRADE PRICED SUPPLEMENTS for ALL!
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Pet @ www.gymratz.co.uk ;) wrote:

I expect that is true, although you would probably have to explicitly instruct your solicitors of that intention so they don't go off on a red tape hunting exercise. ;-)
--
Cheers,

John.

/=================================================================\
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

http://www.screwfix.com/app/sfd/cat/pro.jsp?idi955&tsR951
This might be a lot less hassle.
--
Skipweasel
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sven wrote:

Sounds like you're reading the planning stages of a dwelling that is converted to flats? as the new law states now that a dwelling which has three seperate floors coverted to flats which must have a means of ecape(FIRE ESCAPE)at each level ie back of dwelling, with the addition of adequate fire appliances fitted at each level.
--
Sir Benjamin Middlethwaite



Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The3rd Earl Of Derby wrote:

WD George, that's pretty much what I said earlier, these fire regs are for flats, not loft conversions, especially not loft conversions that already have a fire escape in the loft, as mentioned by the OP.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
SNIP.....

Look at the regs http://www.above-it-all.co.uk/media/odpm_breg_027756.pdf go to page 25 and follow on for the next few pages, it does all look like it is needed for a loft conversion now.
If you look at diagram 3b this is very much like the layout of the ground floor, however fire door escape from the stair to final exit 2 is not there, only the escape to final exit 1 (the kitchen area) is.
Thanks for all this help guys, you are helping.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sven wrote:

I'm not nitpicking here, but these regulations state that no 2 storey dwelling can be built unless it has a fire door seperating floors: a. The upper storeys (those above ground storey) should be served by a protected stairway which should either:
i. extend to a final exit, see Diagram 3(a), or
ii. give access to at least two escape routes at ground level, each delivering to final exits and separated from each other by fire-resisting construction and self-closing fire doors, see Diagram 3(b).
b. The top storey should be separated from the lower storeys by fire-resisting construction and be provided with an alternative escape route leading to its own final exit.
'protected stairway'?
They are building open plan houses 200 yards away from where I'm sitting right now...also this bit above 'b. The top storey' is referring to a two storey house, IE a normal house.
All this is academic anyway, no one can force you, or the seller to bring a dwelling up to *todays* standards - I know of lots of Victorian houses which are four and five storeys high and none of them have fire escapes, fire doors or anything else - these rules cover the erection of new buildings only
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Snipp

Where as I agree totally with what you say Phil, I think they consider any alterations a licence to kick you in the nadds. My argument is simple, especially with the escape from the first floor thing, if the conversion has not been done, how would that make the fire escape from the first floor any less of a problem. To make the changes I will need to either construct a corridor what will bugger up the entire kitchen and serve very little purpose, or hack a new door into the living room and modify the stairs.
I agree the regs make sense for a new home but not an existing structure. Does anyone know if there is any flexibility in the regulations when dealing with a house that has stood very happily for the last 100+ years?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sven wrote:

Because with a loft conversion the first floor has to act as the escape from the 2nd floor also.

Yes, leave the house as it has stood very happily for the last 100+ years.
But start creating rooms in a roof that was only ever intended to hold a lath and plaster ceiling up and you have to comply with today's regs.
Owain
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.