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Flat Conversion Plans (1)

Converting a property is an expensive process and one that could leave you out of pocket unless you have an architect that works alongside you keeping down the costs.

The architect is the one that can add several thousands to the development costs just by specifying more expensive methods of construction so make sure that when you instruct, give him a brief to deliver the project in the most cost effective manner.

Converting the smaller period mid-terrace properties used to be quite a simple affair. You ended up with a 1 bedroom unit downstairs and a 2 bedroom unit upstairs. By removing the stair bannisters and installing a stud partition you could separate the units within a couple of days. In effect it was an easy process and an average 3/4 bed house could be converted to 2 flats within 6 weeks or so for a handsome profit.

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Nowadays it’s a far more complicated matter as we have a lot more building regulations to contend with on order to complete a separation of the units.

Flat Conversion PlansUtilities for example have to be split in the street which means we have to make space for external gas meters, electric meters and of course we now have metered water so you also have to split the rising main within the street area. By the time you’ve split the utilities and got them into the property you are looking at cost of 10k/15k depending on the number of units you’ve created.

The next big costly affair is the fireproofing works which means that walls within each unit have to have at least 30 minutes fire resistance whilst walls that divide the units need 60 minutes of fire resistance. It doesn’’t stop there because you also need 60 minutes resistance to communal areas, undersides of staircases and kitchens which effectively means a whole lot of plaster boarding.

After that we need to consider soundproofing which means we have to reduce the sound transmitted between the units do an acceptable level that is tested when the work is carried out. This test is usually carried out when you lay your new floor coverings, otherwise the tests may fail which means having to do a load more work.

There is no one prescribed method for dealing with the soundproofing and there is a fair bit of trial and effort. In most cases it means building a new false ceiling to each unit except the top one. This work is carried out to a detailed specification because if you get it wrong then the sound will be transmitted and you are back to square one. Of course this means that any nice cornice or ornamental features that you might have on the ground floor ceilings are all laid to waste.

Converting properties is a costly affair and made even more so by the many layers of bureaucracy and by that I mean the building control department who are more than happy to add another 10k or 20k to your costs by telling you you have to have this or that.

My advice is to make sure that you have a skilled architect that actually knows what he or she is doing and try to make all the mistakes on paper rather than on the actual build as unnecessary costs will eat into your margin.


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