Changing use of buildings

Changing use of buildings

Contents

Change of use

The Building Regulations (BR) may also apply to certain changes of use of an existing building even though you may think that the work involved in the project will not amount to 'building work'.

This is because the change of use may result in the building as a whole no longer complying with the requirements which will apply to its new type of use, and so having to be upgraded to meet additional requirements specified in the Planning Regulations and the Housing Act 2004 and, in Northern Ireland, the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.

In some cases changing the use of a building that was previously exempt into a different use may constitute a material change of use that requires Building Control approval.

For more information, see our 'Building regulations' section.

Examples of where the rules apply

Converting your house into flats

The BR define this as a 'material change of use' and specify the requirements with which, as a result of that change of use, the whole or part of the building must comply (e.g. those concerned with escape and other fire precautions, hygiene, sound insulation, energy conservation, and contaminants including radon). The whole or part of the building may therefore need to be upgraded to make it comply with the specified requirements.

Converting your home into a shop

The BR define this as a 'material change of use' and specify the requirements with which, as a result of that change of use, the building, or the relevant part of the building, must comply. The specific requirements include those concerned with escape and other fire precautions, hygiene, energy conservation, and access to and use of buildings.

The building may therefore need to be upgraded to make it comply with the specified requirements. You should also check with the local fire authority, usually the County Council, to see what on-going fire precautions legislation will apply when the building is in use.

Converting part or all of your shop, office or any other type of non-domestic building into a flat or any other type of home

The BR define this as a 'material change of use' and specify the requirements with which, as a result of that change of use, the whole or part of the building must comply (e.g. those concerned with escape and other fire precautions, hygiene, sound insulation and energy conservation). The whole or at least part of the building may therefore need to be upgraded to make it comply with the specified requirements.

Examples where the rules do not apply

Converting your home into an office

The BR do not define this particular change of use as 'material'. However, if your proposed project involves work which will affect the structure of the building, the means of escape or other fire precautions, or affect the access to and use of buildings, the BR will regard your work as a 'material alteration' (and therefore 'building work') which must then comply with the BR. You should also check with the local fire authority, usually the local council, to see what on-going fire precautions legislation will apply when the building is in use.