Change of Use

Converting parts or your entire property from one purpose to another often requires upgrading some parts of the building fabric, such as insulation, ventilation, plumbing and wiring. Because of the diversity of conversion types, they can range from small DIY projects to major building contracts, with widely varying budgets to match.

 

 

How can BetterSpace help?

Design wise – changing the way a space is used often comes with a set of limitations. That said – these limitations are also opportunities to create unique and iconic designs. At BetterSpace, we can share our vast experience and creativity to help you with your change-of-use project. We can create a conceptual design, produce construction drawings and help you secure planning permits to make your dream house a reality.

What types of change-of-use renovations does BetterSpace have experience with?

We have experience in the following types of change-of-use project:

Loft conversion – from an unused space or storage area to extra rooms.

Garage conversion – from a car space to an additional living area.

Subdividing a house into flats – or converting flats into a single house.

Commercial space to residential property – especially space above a ground floor shop.

Barn conversion – in rural areas, empty farm buildings are a popular choice for conversion into spacious homes. Other building types that are commonly converted include old school buildings, churches or chapels, warehouses and even disused railway stations.

Why consider a conversion? The Pros:

Converting a room or two, or even an entire building, can be a great option, but it’s not the right choice for everyone. Consider the pros and cons carefully. Here are some common pros:

More living space – an unused loft can usually be converted to provide an additional bedroom (or two) plus an ensuite, giving you more living space for a growing family, a guest room or an office space.

Make the most of wasted space – if you don’t use your garage, converting it into an extra room can greatly increase your floor area, giving you more habitable space for relaxing, working or playing.

Not having to move – a well-designed conversion can give you the home you want and the space you need, without the expense and upheaval of moving to a new location.

Increased house value – a professionally designed conversion can add many tens of thousands of pounds to the value of your house.

Getting a unique home – converting a church, school, barn or warehouse will result in a one-of-a-kind property with unique architecture and period features.

Why consider a conversion? The Cons:

Here are some possible cons to look out for when converting a property:

Unexpected issues in old buildings – barns, churches and other old buildings may require a bat survey and, depending on the outcome, you may need to take steps to prevent the destruction of potential bat habitats.

Ex-industrial buildings may contain asbestos or other harmful substances that require costly remediation work.

You may need to treat or replace old timber if it has wet or dry rot or woodworm.

You may need planning permission – as well as the usual planning requirements, you may also need approval for Change of Use if you want to convert a non-residential building into a home.

How much does it cost? (UK)

The price of a change-of-use conversion project will vary considerably depending on the scale and type of work, design, specifications and where in the country you live. In the priciest areas (London and the South East) a loft conversion might cost around £1,500 to £2,000 per square metre (m2) but in other parts of the country, it may be considerably lower.
Converting the average single garage costs between £5,000 and £8,000, but converting a derelict barn or warehouse may cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. The level of finish you require will affect the price significantly; high-end, luxury materials can cost a great deal more than ‘value’ or own-brand ranges.
Of course, these are only a rough guide and the cost of converting can only be properly estimated once you’ve discussed your needs with an architect or designer who can draw up accurate plans.
To minimise the cost of your conversion project whilst maximising the benefits, try to keep things simple by leaving walls and major features where they are: structural work can be costly! Using an architectural designer might seem like a luxury, but clever design can help achieve the solution you want without major construction work.

Do I need planning permission? (UK)

If your change-of-use conversion involves only internal alterations, you may not need planning permission; here are some of the projects you can do without planning approval:
Loft conversion – qualifies as permitted development within additional volume limits (40m3 for terraced houses; 50m3 for semi-detached and detached houses), not extending beyond the original roof slope at the front of the house (facing the road) and not extending higher than the existing roof.
Garage conversion – qualifies as permitted development providing the work is internal and the building is not enlarged, although a detached garage may need Change of Use approval.
Convert a space above a shop – if you meet certain requirements, you may be able to convert a space above a shop into a flat without planning permission.
Convert light industrial premises – for applications that are granted prior approval before 1 October 2020 and development is completed within three years of the prior approval date, light industrial buildings can be converted to dwellings, subject to certain conditions.
Barn conversion – agricultural buildings less than 450m2 can be converted to residential use subject to meeting certain criteria.
Some changes of use are subject to a prior approval procedure, which might include matters relating to transport and highways impacts, noise impact, contamination risks, flooding risks, whether the building is suitable for a residential use, and the design or external appearance of the building.
Subdividing a house into a number of flats or bedsits requires planning permission, as do most other changes of use not listed above. Most external work carried out as part of a conversion also requires permission.

What is the planning application process? (UK)

If your proposed change-of-use conversion does require planning consent, it is your responsibility to gain approval before any building work begins. This simply means asking your local planning authority if you can carry out the building work; they will either grant permission – sometimes with conditions attached – or refuse.
In order to apply for planning permission, you’ll need accurate drawings of your home’s existing layout (floor plans) and external appearance (elevations), the proposed new layout and external changes, plus the completed planning application forms.
It’s a good idea to arrange a pre-application meeting with a planning officer; this is an informal discussion where you can get advice about local planning requirements and restrictions and how they might affect your proposal, to help reduce the risk of your application being rejected.

Where do I start?

Before getting in touch, there are a few things you need:
Plans and photos of your current space. Architectural drawings or estate agents’ plans are ideal, but otherwise you can scan or photograph your own drawing with measurements. Photos of the space are also useful. If you do not have any documentation showing the current layout – we can arrange a site inspection. You can request a site visit when completing our online quote form.
A description of your space: how it works, what’s good and what doesn’t work so well, what you’d like to change.
Your wish list: what do you want?! Include design features you’d like, materials and finishes, how the space will be used. What are your project goals?

Are you ready?

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