Converting flats back to a house

3 Sep 2008
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United Kingdom
I'm converting a 1930's semi that was converted into two flats in the late 70's/early 80's back into a single house.

The conversion was quite poorly done and consisted of building a wall alongside the staircase and dividing the old large doorway into two.

The wall was built directly onto the floorboards up to ceiling height. The door height level was lowered (used to be a fan light) but it looks like the old lintel was used.

This is my first renovation so I didn't realise that I had to get Building Control sign off and I have already brought most of the wall down. I'm doing a lot of the work myself to minimise costs.

I've spoken briefly with BC who thought that this might be a material change of use and the whole weight of the Regs would apply. This seems a bit onerous for converting flats back to a house though.

Does anyone have any experience of either converting flats back or getting a dispensation from the Regs? I'm going to live in the house so I'm at the point of just sodding the council, doing the work and hoping nobody notices!

Any advice will be great.
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You also need planning permission.

It will need to conform to any relevent b/regs for the conversion. I can't see a reason for any relaxation

So yes, you either apply for the permissions or do it on the sly and hope for the best.

What about council tax, insurance and existing service supplies?

And there are the obvious issues at a future sale time
jrf - first thing to do is check that the original conversion had planning approval; you'll need to see who's got any docs from that time, Cheshire CC or has there been any local gov re-organisation in your area (see if anything from that time has been digitised - unlikely - and is now available on the LA website) otherwise it's a visit to the Planning Dept. If the original work was done 'off the books' just press ahead with your project because what you are doing in a modernisation of a single dwelling.

If the original job was OK'd by the LA then you will have to apply for permission to reinstate. All works, as woody says, will have to meet the relevant standards.

If done 'officially' back then there may well be 2 separate water supplies (with 2 Water Board shut-offs in the street ... Ah, Water Boards, remember them!).

In the '70's we specialised as property developers in doing loads of conversions in Islington (N.London), big 4 storey Georgian & Victorian jobbies (which could be bought for a song), all of which had to conform to Islington Council's requirements AND the GLC's (Greater London Council) Laws. It was really spooky being called in years and years later to reinstate a couple of our earlier conversions back to single dwellings (that was when Islington was being 'discovered' by the middle class). This work needed approvals. So ends the history lesson for all you youngsters out there.
Thanks Guys - I've done the planning thing and got a certfificate of lawful development. The building has two gas and electricity meters but I, m not sure about the water - it looks like two pipes coming into the cellar. For council tax, the valuation office just wants to see one front door and one kitchen and the council departments don't seem to talk to each other anyway. Our insurance company knows our plans is happy.

I thought we maight be able to get a relaxtion as the regs cover all sorts (insulation etc) which may be a bit onerous considering.

I'll check out the original planning situation and see where that leaves us. There was nothing in the purchase pack from the solicitors but I guess that doesn't mean it isn't there.

I'll post back with results.
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With regards to building regs anything you don't uncover won't need to meet regs, but anything you do will be fully accountable, eg re-locating bathrooms, electrical work etc.
As Woody says you need to sort out the services, bills etc and depending upon the current lease state of the properties there may be a legal issue that needs to resolvedif you come to sell.. Did you buy the property as one or as two freehold flats or was it a freehold with two leashold flats on it.
Chappers - The property was split into a 999 yr leasehold (created when I purchased the 1st floor flat) and a freehold title. The owners intention was to create a second leasehold and sell the ground floor but never got round to it. I purchased the freehold title and will have to cancel the leasehold.

Re BC - I called my local officer who was very helpful and was quite relaxed about my plans. I'm going to go down the building notice route as the work I have planned is relatively simple. Electrics will be carried out by a qualified spark who can self certify and 3 other bits of structural work I will do later under seperate notices.

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