Flat Renovations: Where Do I Start?

Home extensions can be seen in all sorts of housing ranging from detached properties to flats. As an architectural firm, Home Tales are well-versed in the renovation process and will always advise clients on the best possible course of action. That is why in this post, we wanted to address how to go about undertaking a flat renovation. This may include reconfiguring the internal layout, extending a ground floor flat, or adding room to a first floor flat by building into the loft space. Whichever project you are looking to take on, rest assured that our team will be behind you every step of the way, smoothly leading you onto the build phase. Even then, we have a wonderful builder that we highly recommend to all our clients.

What works can be done?

You may be surprised to hear that there are many forms of home improvements that can be carried out on a flat. However, they do require much more care and consideration than a project in a standard house to ensure planning permission is granted and that there are no delays. There are also many factors that can influence what works can be done, but we will delve into that in the next section.

A lot of the time, flat owners come to us wanting to completely reconfigure the interior of their home. This is usually a straightforward project that requires no works to the exterior of the building. As you share the building with at least one neighbour, the works you do must have minimal impact on their quality of living i.e. loud works during certain times, working on shared walls, etc. That is why all parties of interest on the site must be informed and consulted prior to any works. If all is well, you can knock back some of your internal walls, move your bedrooms around, remove your chimney breast, and much more. Our Architectural Designer will inform you on which works are possible and impossible in your particular building.

Clients living in a ground floor flat come to us wanting to extend their home, oftentimes into a garden. This can add a second bedroom and can help to add precious floor area to a living, dining or kitchen area. In one of our more recent projects we suggested including a courtyard in our client’s ground floor extension. They were very excited by the prospect as we explained that a small courtyard in the middle of the ground floor flat allows for natural light and ventilation to flow through internal rooms that may otherwise be hidden in the dark.

For those living in first floor flats, you may think options are limited, but they have the fortune of extending their home into the loft space. Clients can add an entire new floor to their flat by adding in a staircase and installing rooflights or a rear dormer. Depending on the size of the existing structure, this may be ample space for a master bedroom with an en-suite and walk-in wardrobe.

As a starting point and to help along the process, we think it’s a good idea to search online (or in person) for inspiration to guide the design stage. Especially when it comes to internal reconfigurations, sites like Pinterest and Instagram are great tools for helping to visualise what your space could potentially look like.

Getting planning permission

Unlike houses where the clients are the freeholder, leaseholders living in a flat are not entitled to Permitted Development Rights, therefore most external and heavy works must be pre-approved by the building’s freeholder. This means these types of works will require Full Planning Permission, which is a comprehensive application that covers topics such as ecological interest in the site, water management, and much more. Ground floor extensions, loft conversions, and window replacements will all require planning permission. If notice is not given to the freeholder of the neighbours and they object to the proposal later down the line, it is likely your application will be rejected by the local planning authority and you will have lost a lot of time and money. That’s why we always recommend serving notice and speaking with neighbours in good time.

Fortunately, if you are looking to renovate the interior of your flat it’s highly likely that you will not require planning permission. When working with Home Tales, you will not need to worry so much about the planning stage as we will take care of the process for you. We will ensure all relevant drawings/documents are provided, ensure you have the forms to give notice to your neighbours, and will submit the application once you are happy with all the details.

Party Structure (neighbours)

As we touched on previously, renovating a flat does not only affect you, but the neighbours around you. In a semi-detached or terrace house, the partition between neighbours is called a Party Wall but one between flat neighbours are called Party Structures, as this can be a ceiling or roof. A Certificate B Notice must be given 2 months prior to any build works. Neighbours have a say in when works can be done, and the freeholder has a right to refuse the works.

If you’re looking to undertaking some home improvement projects this Summer, why not give us a call? Our friendly team of professionals would love to hear from you! You can contact us by ringing 02070432378 or you can shoot us a quick email at hello@hometales.co.uk. Alternatively, click here to book in a telephone consultation with a senior member of our team. We offer two types, our standard consultation and our consultation Plus, which offers comprehensive advice that involves several additional initial design services.


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