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Does loft flooring affect my new home warranty? Part 3 – Building Regulations

This is the 3rd article in a series about the factors related to your warranty when flooring your loft. Read the other articles here:

Building Regulations and Loft Flooring

In Scotland, Building Regulations are different from England and Wales, and are administered by the Scottish Building Standards Agency. They publish building regulations in the form of two ‘Technical Handbooks’ – one for domestic and one for commercial applications.

Wait, why do I need to know about building regulations?

Surely it is the builder’s responsibility to comply with the regulations and the habitation certificate already proves that the house does? This is true – but there is a good reason you should be aware of the regulations: 

If you do any work to your house that is against regulation or missing a required warrant then it will be more difficult for you to prove which failures were caused by the builder and which have been caused by you.

Since NHBC requirements reference building regulations in several places, for a builder to comply with NHBC requirements they must also comply with building regulations. If you happen to experience damp issues in your loft and think you have a claim against the builder, an investigation will most likely be required. The builder will want to prove that they complied with the regulations are not liable for the damp and so not due to give you any money. If you have boarded your loft for storage it will be very easy for them to point to that as the culprit without any further justification or evidence. It will be up to you to know your regulations and demonstrate why your certified LoftZone flooring is not to blame.

Building warrants

Many types of work to your house require a building warrant to be obtained from your local council following inspection of the completed works. This is primarily for work which may affect the safety of yourself or others so is very important. In general, any alteration which increases the floor space of a home does require a warrant, but lofts are specifically excluded from this requirement:

“Where a roof space has limited boarding inserted to allow access to services or to allow attic storage these should not be considered as increasing the floor area.”

So boarding your loft for storage does not require a warrant… providing it cannot be considered a ‘habitable space’.

Habitable space

Conversion of the roof space into anything which could be considered a ‘habitable space’ does require a warrant. According to this NHBC FAQ – When does a storage space in a loft become a habitable room and require appropriate means of escape provisions:

The provision of a storage space within the loft area is acceptable, however the provision of an additional floor level, to be potentially used as habitable accommodation should not be considered without providing adequate means of escape. The following factors should be considered when assessing a storage space:

  1. Have the ceiling joists or attic trusses been provided
  2. Have windows or veluxes been provided for light and ventilation
  3. The size of the loft access hatch
  4. The ventilation provision to the roof space
  5. Whether power outlets have been provided in the roof space
  6. Whether plasterboarding has been provided to form an enclosure

Definitive guidelines cannot be provided, but the important factor is to ensure that if the loft space can be readily and easily adapted to provide habitable accommodation, then further details and assessment will be required.

Planning Permission

More good news is that using your loft for storage, and even full blown loft conversions, do not require planning permission as they fall under the category of permitted development. But that’s a whole different topic.

Real Homes guide to planning permission and permitted development
Real Homes guide to planning permission and permitted development

Next in our series is Does loft flooring affect my new home warranty? Part 4 – The BBA and LoftZone

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