Loft Conversions and the Party Wall Act
It is a common sight across London to see a scaffold outside the front of a property whilst an owner undertakes a loft conversion. As house prices increase and stamp duty makes the cost of moving more difficult, a loft is certainly a good way of increasing your habitable space and increasing the value of your property in most cases.
So what do you need to do as a Building Owner who wishes to extend their loft?
Firstly you will need to engage either an architect or a design and build loft company who will prepare plans for your proposed works. You may need to apply for planning permission depending on your scenario, for example if you are in a conservation area permitted development rights do not apply and permission is required. Secondly you will normally need an engineer to prepare drawings and calculations for building regulation purposes and this will include the design of any steelwork that is required.
Once drawings are prepared or earlier if you wish, you can engage with a Party Wall Surveyor who will confirm if you are required to serve a Party Structure Notice upon your neighbours. A Party Structure Notice is required if you share a wall with your neighbour, for example if you own a mid-terrace property or if you are semi-detached. The notice will state that you are intending to cut into a Party Wall to install steels which normally sit on concrete or steel plates to spread the load of the new steel.
You may also wish to raise what is known as a parapet wall, the small section of wall which rises up above the roof line. This is permitted under the Party Wall Act and serving a notice under the Act also has the added benefit of granting you access rights for your workmen to build the wall and point or render it. If you do not serve a Notice under the Act for your works, you are acting unlawfully and your works could be stopped, it is therefore important to engage with a Party Wall Surveyor early on so as to avoid delays.
So what do you need to do as an Adjoining Owner (neighbour) who resides next door to a loft which is to be converted?
Firstly, we always recommend that neighbours speak with each other. Check with your neighbour that they are aware of the Party Wall Act and if not, we are always happy to have a friendly chat to make the process clearer. We would be more than happy to advise you of your rights and obligations as a neighbour.
The process is an important one and provides you with the right to undertake your work as well as deal with access onto your neighbours land which is otherwise not permitted. We have successfully dealt with hundreds of loft extensions across East London as well as the remainder of London and outlying areas. We have a team of expert Party Wall Surveyors on hand to provide advice and guide you through the process, feel free to call us at any time.