Tenement loft conversions are becoming extremely popular in Edinburgh at the moment.
They are a great, affordable way of increasing your living space, and they can also add value to your property when you come to sell.
However there are a number of things that you should be aware of before starting this type of conversion.
Title Deeds and the Tenement (Scotland) Act 2004
Within blocks of tenement flats there are common areas, such as the roof, stairs, garden area and external wall, which all owners have joint responsibility for. The Title Deeds to your property set out your rights and duties when it comes to common repairs. When the title deeds have gaps or are silent on a particular issue, the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004 steps in to ensure that everyone owning a tenement flat pays their fair share and the communal areas are kept in good repair.
Likewise when there is disagreement or uncertainty over who owns the loft space above the flat that you want to convert and the title deeds to your property are unclear, the Tenement Act 2004 steps in. If you need specific advice about your particular title deeds or the law, with regards to who owns the roof space above your flat, you should consult with a solicitor before embarking on this type of loft conversion.
Although many loft conversions do not require planning permission, the work done must always comply with Building Regulations. Your local council must also be contacted so that a building control officer can inspect the work at several stages of the development.
Building Regulations specific to Tenement Loft Conversions
Increased height brings extra risk in both the time needed for escape and the difficulties posed to the fire and rescue service in trying to rescue individuals or fight fires. For this reason, fire protection measures increase with the storey height of the building. Therefore all tenement loft conversions must also have the following features
- Linked smoke alarms fitted to provide an early warning in the event of fire.
- The staircase going from the loft to a final exit must be fully enclosed and upgraded to ensure 30 minutes of fire resistance, providing a safe means of escape. This will usually mean doubling up plasterboard on ceilings and any timber stud walls, and upgrading to fire-resistant doors on all habitable rooms opening onto the stairway.
- A domestic sprinkler system, designed in accordance with recommendations published by the British Standards Institute, installed to help suppress any outbreaks of fire
Access and Cost Considerations
Being on the top floor of a three or four storey building will give you great panoramic views but it will also create access and technical issues for the builders working on your tenement loft conversion. Multi-level scaffolding towers will need to be erected to allow access to the outside roof area. These along with the extra building regulations requirements mean that you should expect the cost of your conversion to be higher than that of a lower storey conversion. It is also likely that it will take a slightly longer time to complete.
Even considering these extra issues a tenement loft conversion is without doubt a great investment, if done properly. It allows you to increase your living space for an affordable price giving you the home you desire without having to move. At the same time it can add value to your property and give your home extra appeal when you come to sell.
If you are considering a tenement loft conversion and you would like to discuss this further, please get in touch or give Kevin or Steven a call on 0131 478 7079.