'moving' a bedroom

15 Jun 2009
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United Kingdom
Hi all,

I've house with one large bedroom at the front and two small bedrooms and a bathroom at the back. However the front and back are about the same size in total, so the back bedrooms were rather cramped.

I have a plan to move the smallest bedroom into the front, to even things up a bit - it was almost unusably small. I have begun by removing it from the back (knocking the two small beds into one), and intend to add a partition in the front in order to reinstate it there. i'm not altering the bathroom

I'll presumably have to get building approval for making a new window opening, but happily i shouldn't need to alter any electrics. However i'm wondering if:
(1) I should have got approval for removing the stud partition (I thought not because it wasn't structural or making access, ventelation etc worse, but now i'm beginning to wonder).
(2) if I need it for partitioning the front bedroom into two,
(3) do minimum door sizes apply upstairs in dwellings, or is it just the principle and/or entrance storey?

I've tried to get into the building regs documents, but am a bit confused: on the one hand it seems partitioning a room may need approval, but on the other when i've finished i will not have either fewer or more rooms than when i started (and what is bedroom space now will be bedroom space then, just re-arranged) so it seems it may not to count as a material alteration or possibly not change of use.

Advice would be much appreciated!

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You do not need planning approval for internal alterations. (unless you are excavating below ground - i.e. a basement) But you would need building regs if you move/alter a structural wall or a controlled fitting. (that means certain electrics, windows, boiler, etc.)

Disabled regulations (door sizes) do not apply to existing properties at all, and even on new properties do not apply to first floors.
Thanks Jeds,

Great, thats what i thought, so its reassuring to hear! There are no electrics being altered (at least not since 2004), nothing load bearing and there are no controlled fittings such as boilers, WCs etc. It isn't between a bathroom and a bedroom so i guess no issues with part E, and Part M doesn't 'seem' to apply either. So the only exception is a new window opening, which I knew needed building approval, so no surprises there. Yay!

Its odd though, the reason for this post is that the government and some of the local authority web sites seem to suggest otherwise. For example: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/england/genpub/en/1115315234102.html - under 'new internal walls' it says: "Work to provide a new internal wall generally requires approval under the Building Regulations 2000". So that 'seems' to be a direct contradiction with what I/we thought. And I've also seen where local authority sites say removing a wall (as i've already done) is a 'material change' that can affect stuff like fire/escape routes and so needs approval.

Sigh, its so difficult to be completely certain what is what. The guides all seem very light on actual facts and the building regs are completely the opposite, very challenging to understand. I also find that its often not made clear in the documents what has to just comply with regs and what needs actual approval.

Any further confirmation and enlightenment would be appreciated!

As stated you don’t need Planning Permission for internal alterations but all the work you do must comply with Building Regulations &, in certain circumstances, the work is notifyable & you will need to make a submission & get the work inspected which involves a fee.

You will need to submit for the new window opening & get the lintel installation inspected BEFORE you fit the window (include the window installation if your DIY fitting) but unless moving the stud wall affects access/escape, increases fire risk or is adjacent to a room with a w/c then you should be OK. It’s a matter of familiarisation & understanding of the B regs. really & even some inspectors don't seem to be able to do that but understanding some of them can be a bit like sticking pins in your eyes. I posted this link on another topic this morning which gives some guidance on what you can & cannot do without B regs approval but you may have already seen it.
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Excellent!! Many thanks for the confirmation, and for the booklet link - very useful!

Yes, I certainly found it quite confusing. Initially it seemed clear cut so I happily removed the stud partition, but then the info on the gov websites concerned me. In retrospect they are perhaps a bit too general to answer the questions I was asking. Its not like dividing a bedroom with a stud partition is particularly strange or complicated; I should have just gone with the advice on this forum and worried less!

Think I may get the new window done and signed off before I add the partition though. If it doesn't need approval there's probably no need to invite problems by having it there when the window gets attention!


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