Loft Extension with external stairs

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    Loft Extension with external stairs

    Dear Colleagues,

    I am the freeholder of a building split in to two flats. I reside in the ground floor flat and the above flat is on a long lease.
    I want to obtain planning for a self contained loft extension flat with external stairs ( as I won’t be able to build access via the upstairs flat ). The upstairs flat already has a flight of stairs leading from the back exit to the separate enclosed garden downstairs.
    1) Any advice on what the first priority should be and any recommendations on an Architect / architectural technician / planning consultant that has experience of this type of project of external outside access ?.
    2) Is it worth requesting a ‘pre-application’ meeting with the planning department or not ?.
    3) Is it important to first establish where the staircase is going to stand, as that affects access and the internal layout of the flat ?.


    Sounds like a mad idea to me. I'd forget it IIWY.
    To save them chiming in, JPKeates, Theartfullodger, Boletus, Mindthegap, Macromia, Holy Cow & Ted.E.Bear think the opposite of me on almost every subject.


      Dear JKO, surely someone must have been successful at such a project ?.


        I actually did planning approval drawings for something similar a couple of years ago for a friend.
        (Note - I am not an architect, I'm an engineering designer. But it's simple enough if you follow the Approved Documents).

        They were used both at a pre-planning meeting, and later for the full application.

        That was the conversion of an outbuilding into upstairs and downstairs flats for rental to contract workers. (We have a lot of contract workers around here).
        There was no internal stairwell but there was an existing external staircase, more of a rusting metal fire escape and totally unsuitable.
        But that did set where the access door was to be.

        I'd guess your first stage is to decide where the access opening is going to be, and are the external stairs going to run diagonally up the wall or stick-out. Decide if they are going to be open or enclosed, etc.
        Remember that as you can't go through the other flat then you are also going to have to have external pipes for water/sewage and possibly other utilities.

        As long as you/your architect/your builder comply with the Approved Documents, (Document K for stairs), there should be no problems with the planning department on the technical aspects.
        Non-technical aspects, such as objections from neighbours, may be a different matter.
        Just because plans meet building regs doesn't mean that you can build them.

        You can find the Approved documents here:
        You will also want to refer to the manual to the building regulations:

        TBH in the situation as you describe it with the other flat I'd suspect you may have bigger problems with supplying utilities and wastewater/sewage.
        Plus of course they may object to an external staircase running up their wall.

        PS. The one I did the plans for got built with a slightly different external staircase from what I had specified.
        Mine stuck-out along a boundry wall, the one fitted ran diagonally up the side of the building itself (and right across a lower window).
        The builder 'had one left over from another job' (He'd been doing a large holiday park some miles away and I suspect it got 'acquired' from there).
        Because it was different Building Control wouldn't pass it off until it had been modified again (Extra guarding at the top).


          Sorry, that second link jumps to the 'Merged Approved Documents' (you might want that anyway rather than the individual ones) just scroll up a bit for the 'Manual to the Building Regulations.

          (I'm not going to edit the links because it would probably go to moderation if I did).


            Nukecad, you have been most helpful.

            Which person should I hire in regards to the external stairs and their placement ? and if I do attend pre-planning stage meeting with the Council, will they require plans of the dimensions of the whole project ? (Does a surveyor have to carry out these measurements ).


              It seems that you obviously need help with this potential project.

              Whilst my own experience (on more than just that one job) tells you that anyone competent in reading regulations (and drawing plans) can do this - If you don't have that competency yourself then you should be looking for someone local to you to do that.

              Most people's first thought would be an architect, but a local building firm may well have the required planning skills.
              There again some building firms may just get an architect to do it and add their cut to the architects fee - if you don't know who you are engaging then you pay your money and take you chance.

              If you know someone like me who can do it as a favour/low price then then all well and good, but you don't seem to know anyone like that.
              (Before you ask - NO I AM NOT INTERESTED - I've done a couple of project plannings for a few friends, and charged them for it, but I am not interested in doing it as a business for strangers).

              Yes, you need to have at least have some idea of rough measurements and a good idea what you propose for a pre-planning consultation.
              And any drawings of proposed floor plans, proposed services (utilities/wastewater/sewarage) layouts etc. will obviously help.
              If you don't even know if what you are thinking about will fit in the space available then how can you even start?
              Iit would be a pretty useless pre-planning meeting because you would have nothing substantial to talk about.

              If you can get rough measurements and put together a rough plan that's enough for a pre-planning discussion.
              But you will need better plans and better details for a formal planning application.

              Good luck if you decide to carry on with this, it is possible to do, but you are going to need help and that is going to cost (maybe more than you are prepared to pay).


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