Period Ideas’ property expert Kate Faulkner talks you through your next big project
Changing the floor plans of an older property can be a great way of increasing space and making your home more convenient and attractive. But you need to check a few things – you don’t want to damage your property or, even worse, reduce its value!
Layout changes can have an effect on your property’s value and saleability. You need to know that increasing room sizes by reducing the number of bedrooms or reception rooms can actually lower the price of your property. Speak to a local property expert, preferably an estate agent who is also a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, because it’s always handy to be in a good position to sell, even if you do not intend to move any time soon.
Before you consider moving any walls, you need to know if they are load-bearing or not and, if they are, you should contact local Building Control to check regulations. A job like this requires expert help, as it is likely that there are electrics and plumbing running through the walls, all of which need relocating.
Beam me up
Taking out a load-bearing wall requires detailed measurements to work out the length and weight of the steel beam needed to prop up any ceilings or floor joists. Your builder can do this work, but it’s wise to consult a building surveyor, architect or engineer with professional indemnity insurance. New walls also need to be approved under Building Regulations, to ensure that they are insulated correctly and fire resistant.
Know the rules
If your property is listed, leasehold or has any covenants on it, then you will likely need permission before you go ahead with any changes. Approval can take months and even then, you may need to modify, or even scrap, your original plans. Moving walls might also mean adding new door or window openings, which are also covered by building regulations. Rules on fire risk, escape routes, ventilation, insulation and positioning may sometimes seem petty and restrictive, but they are designed to protect you and your family. Ignore the regulations and it is likely to prove expensive and time-consuming when you come to sell the property.
Kate Faulkner is one of the UK’s leading property experts. Read her regular column every month in Period Ideas! Get in touch with her via propertychecklists.co.uk or follow her @katefaulkner
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