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Domestic Alterations

Contents

Introduction 

Home Alterations have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Whether making improvements to increase the value of your home, to increase your energy efficiency, or just to create an extra room, Ceredigion Building Control is here to provide help and advice throughout your building project.

Garage Conversions

Garage Conversion 2If you are planning to convert a garage, you will need to apply to Ceredigion County Council for Building Regulation approval. This is because converting a garage into a habitable space is classified as a "material change of use." Building Control will help you ensure that your garage:

  • Remains safe and structurally sound
  • Is water and weatherproof
  • Is well insulated for warmth and energy conservation
  • Is well ventilated

For more information on Garage Conversions, please see the following link from the Planning Portal:

Loft Conversions

Loft Conversion1Loft Conversions are most often used to create an extra room in a house, whether another bedroom, a study or a playroom. This sort of work requires approval under Building Regulations, as it often requires substantial work to be done. Lofts are often not designed to be usable as living space, and so there are a number of areas that need to be inspected. A Building Control Officer will need to ensure that:

  • The proposed floor is structurally sound
  • The stability of the existing building, including the roof, is not endangered
  • There is an adequate fire escape route
  • A safe method of accessing the new room is installed

For more information on this, please see the following link from the Planning Portal:

Minor work is also sometimes done to lofts to make them suitable as storage space. This generally involves laying loose boarding over ceiling joists to provide a stable surface to store boxes on. You may be required to inform Ceredigion County Council if you plan to use your loft for light storage. It is advised that you bear in mind that ceiling joists are not designed for heavy loads, and as such you should not cover more than 50% of the available area of your loft. If you require any advice, please contact Ceredigion County Council Building Control.

You should also be aware that work on a loft or roof may affect bats. This may then require a survey and license for work to begin. For more information, please see the following links from the Bat Conservation trust and Countryside Council for Wales:

Party Walls

The Party Wall Act 1996 may apply to your planned work if you are intending to:

  • work on an existing wall that you share with another property
  • building on the boundary with another property
  • excavating near a neighbouring property

You should find out if your work falls under the Party Wall Act. if it does, you are obliged to inform all adjoining neighbours. If you want more information on the Act and your obligations, please contact us.

An explanatory booklet written and provided by the Government can be found here:

Electrical Works

Since January 2005, the installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations in the following structures has fallen under Part p of the Building Regulations:

  • Dwellings (Houses and Flats)
  • Gardens
  • Sheds
  • Detached Garages
  • Greenhouses
  • Outhouses

These regulations were introduced to reduce the number of accidents, fires and fatalities caused by faulty electrical installations, and to cut down on the number of unsafe installations performed by cowboy builders. If you do not follow the Regulations, your work may be unsafe, you may have trouble selling your property in the future, and we may insist that you redo the work to make it comply with the Regulations. 

Electrical work in any of the following special locations will require an application under Part P of the Building Regulations:

  • Any location containing a bath or shower facility
  • Swimming pools, paddling pools, saunas
  • Electrical floor or ceiling heating systems
  • Garden lighting or power installations
  • Small scale generators
  • Extra low voltage lighting installations
  • Marked lighting sets

Please note that if your work is undertaken by someone registered with the appropriate Competent Person Scheme, you will not need to make a Building Regulations Application. Otherwise you must apply as normal.

Renovation of Thermal Elements

Major changes to the Building Regulations governing Energy Conservation were made in 2006. This was in order to help combat climate change and reduce energy waste.

Thermal Elements are defined as a roof, wall or floor which separates a heated or cooled space from any of the following:

  • Outside (including the ground)
  • An unheated area of the same structure
  • A structure which is exempt from the Building Regulations (i.e. a porch or conservatory)
  • An area of the same structure which is heated or cooled to a different temperature

Renovation of a Thermal Element is defined as either adding a new layer to an Element, or replacing an existing one. If this renovation is to more than 25% of the relevant Element, then Building Regulations approval will be required, and you may have to upgrade the Element to provide more insulation.

This means that much work which was previously considered a repair and exempt from Building Regulations is now covered, including:

  • Replacing slate or tiled roofs
  • Re-plastering walls
  • Replacing felt roofs
  • Renewing ceilings below cold loft spaces
  • Rendering or re-rendering an external wall
  • Renewal of cladding to a dormer
  • Renovation of a ground floor involving replacement of screed or timber floor

Failure to submit a Building Regulation Application for any of the above works can lead to prosecution, and will lead to complications if you sell the property in the future. 

If you require advice on the renovation of Thermal Elements, please contact Ceredigion County Council Building Control.

More information can be found at the Planning Portal:

Replacement Windows and Doors

In 2002 replacement windows and doors were added to the scope of Building Regulations. Since then, new doors and windows have had to meet stringent thermal performance standards. When you sell your property, you will be asked to provide evidence that replacement glazing installed since April 2002 complies with Building Regulations.

In order to ensure it does, one of the following methods should be followed when installing replacement glazing:

  • Use a contractor registered as part of a Competent Person Scheme. You will be issued a certificate when the work is complete. For more information, please click here
  • Apply for Building Regulation approval. You will be issued a certificate by Building Control when the work is complete. 

Exempt Buildings

A number of domestic alterations are exempt the need to acquire Building Regulation approval. For more information on them, please see our Exempt Buildings section.

Useful Links

Contact

  • Tel: 01970 633484 (North) 01545572484 (South)  0300 123 1199 (Emergency out of hours)
  • Email: hpw@ceredigion.gov.uk
  • Post: Building Control, Canolfan Rheidol, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3UE