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Selling a House with a Converted Attic

Converting an attic is a cost effective means of adding additional space to your property without the need to encroach on your back garden. However, if not done properly, it can cause serious issues and make selling your property in the future very difficult. There are a number of things to be kept in mind before you proceed to convert your attic.

Planning Permission

If you are not making any structural changes to your property, for example installing dormer or velux windows to the front of the property, then typically no planning permission will be required. However, if you do wish to make structural changes or want to use the attic conversion as “habitable space” eg a bedroom, then planning permission will be necessary. The best approach is to engage an engineer, architect or surveyor at the start of the process to oversee the project from start to finish. They can provide expert, independent advice as to whether or not planning permission is in fact required, make the application if necessary, oversee the works on your behalf and issue a certificate of compliance with building regulations on completion.

Certificate of Compliance with Building Regulations

Regardless of whether planning is required or not, be sure to insist on receiving a certificate of compliance with the building regulations. Sales frequently fall through having gone sale agreed if no such certificate is forthcoming.

So How Many Bedrooms Does My Property Have?

Many people have converted their attics without planning permission as no structural changes were being made. The official status of the conversion in this instance is that it is to be used as non habitable storage space. In reality, very often these are used as bedrooms, offices, playrooms etc. It is not uncommon to see a 3 bedroom semi-detached property listed for sale with images of 4 bedrooms in the listing. The reason for this is that the 4th room in the attic should not technically be being used as a bedroom and as such, the property cannot be advertised as a 4 bedroom property. Some agents will list such properties as 3-bedroom but in the property description refer to the property as a “3-4 bedroom” property. For the 4th room to have the official status as a 4th bedroom, planning permission will have to have been sought and granted for use as a habitable space.

I Converted My Attic Without Planning Permission And Now I Want to Sell

Ideally an engineer, surveyor or architect can retrospectively certify the conversion as not requiring planning permission and issue a certificate of compliance with building regulations. If both of these can be secured, then the sale should proceed without issues. However, if the works are deemed to require planning permission, and none is in place, a retention planning application will need to be submitted to regularise the conversion. If this retention application is refused, then it will be required to restore the attic to its previous, unconverted condition - that obviously would come at a severe financial cost in addition to the inconvenience of losing the converted attic.
In the case mentioned here , the local council went as far as to seek to evict a tenant for carrying out an unauthorised attic conversion. While the eviction notice was subsequently quashed by a judge, it shows the potentially devastating consequences of building first and seeking planning permission later.

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