Building a terrace house loft conversion is no more difficult than a conversion in any other type of property.
Older terraced houses especially can be ideal for loft conversions as the angle of the roof is steep enough to allow for plenty of headroom and you don’t even have to build a dormer.
By the vary nature of a terraced house, there are, however, some serious considerations when planning to install a loft conversion.
One of the major ones is the existence of party walls between you and your neighbours. The 1996 Party Wall Act imposes certain obligations between you and any neighbours you share the party wall with.
Party Wall Act
Firstly your neighbours must be informed of your terrace house loft conversion plans and that it will affect the party wall. Merely telling them is not good enough.
They should be given a written notice of intent – called a Party Structure Notice. There are no official forms for this, but it is important your written notice includes the following details:
• Your name and your address
• The names of the owners of the neighbours’ property
• A brief description of the work you are planning to carry out
• The date you propose to start your terraced loft conversion
If your neighbour has no objections you can go ahead. But if he does have problems with your proposals than what is called a Party Wall Agreement will have to be brokered between your self and a surveyor chosen by your neighbour.
Getting in a Structural Engineer
Another factor to consider when planning a terraced house loft conversion is the structural well being of the main walls of the property. Because converting a loft often means that a beam will need to be supported by the front, rear or side walls the structure must be strong enough to cope with the additional weight bearing of the beam.
Older terraced houses, especially those built in Victorian times may cause problems. Instead of solid brickwork, the walls in these old properties were often built using parallel columns. If that is the situation in your property the chances are they will not be strong enough to deal with any additional load bearing.
You may also need the services of structural engineer to investigate any cracks or bowing in the walls as this could be the pointer to problems with the foundations.
This will also be a good opportunity to carry out tasks such as re-pointing and strengthen the walls’ mortar joints.
When performing a terrace house loft conversion you should make sure the external walls are properly insulated. Indeed, this is a requirement of building regulations.
External walls are essential in the property retaining heat so they must be insulated. Even a mid-terrace hose needs to have its party walls insulated.
We have just added an extensive article on the subject. See Loft Conversion Inspiration & Planning Guide for galleries, useful planning links and more.