12th July 2011 | IN DESIGN ADVICE | BY SBID

Alan Crawford, architect and director of Crawford Partnership, tells us about building regulations in the event of major internal changes to a house.

“Building regulation approval will normally be required for any major internal changes to a house, such as removing or partly removing a load-bearing wall, beam or chimney breast, or if creating an open plan layout which would affect fire precautions or escape routes.

A load-bearing wall supports other elements of the building, such as the roof, floor joists or a wall above. Seek professional advice from a structural engineer (www.istructe.org.uk), architect (www.ribafind.org) or building surveyor (www.rics.org.uk) before attempting any structural work. A structural engineer or surveyor can be employed to determine if a wall is load-bearing and then design a beam which will cater for the loads that the wall was originally taking.

If any new beams bear onto a wall shared with a neighbouring property, then, by law, you will also need to engage the services of a Party Wall Surveyor to agree the works with your neighbour.

You also need approval if, in altering a house, work is necessary to the drainage system.

If you intend removing a wall between the main house and a conservatory then calculations for heat loss may be required.

As the home owner it is up to you to contact your local building control officer before starting any work. They can explain current building regulations. If you go on to sell the house your buyer’s solicitor will require a report which will include a date when walls were removed. The good news is that planning permission probably won’t be required for purely internal works, unless the building is listed – in which case listed building consent will be needed.”