There are numerous reasons to consider splitting up your home. It could be you’re looking to downsize after the kids have moved out. Or that you’re looking to utilise excess space and turn it into a new revenue source.
Whatever your reasons, converting one space into two can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’ve never taken on a large scale home project before. You’ll not only have to think about the design of your two new homes, but also about a lot of paperwork - and nothing can feel scarier, or more frustrating, than housing admin.
Here’s what you can expect to face...
First things first, if you’re looking to divide your property, you will have to obtain planning permission from your local authority. You can either do this yourself, or use an architect to act as your planning agent. Because this is a complex project, we recommend the latter.
As your planning agent, an architect will be able to work with your planning officer to adjust designs, if required. This greatly increases your chances of getting approval first time round, as well as eliminates the possibility of your project getting rejected due to small submission errors.
Some things to note on planning…
If your home is a listed building, we advise getting in touch with your local authority before working on your designs. There are more considerations to make for this type of property, and you’ll likely have to produce plans that work to in keep with the property's historical features.
You’ll also be subject to tighter rules if you’re living in a conservation area. And if your project requires demolition, you may also need to apply for further planning permission for this, and should speak to your local authority for advice before you start.
Even if your home is a new build, located outside a conservation area, other factors could play into it’s approval. For example, in London, different councils will have different housing priorities. In Richmond, splitting your home might come into question, if other properties in the area are mostly whole. Likewise, another council might reject your plans to convert two flats into one, if there is a limited housing stock in the area.
Lease and freeholds
When it comes to property ownership you can either be the freeholder or the leaseholder of your home. A freeholder owns the entirety of their building and accompanying land, while a leaseholder only owns a certain part. Being a leaseholder is common if you live in a flat or maisonette. You’ll likely own your contained living space, but areas like the hallway will be managed by the freeholder of your building.
If you're splitting your property, it’s likely you’ll be the freeholder. However, if you plan on selling one (or both) of your new homes, your solicitor would need to draw up new leases, giving the new owners a leasehold. You would remain as the freeholder, and therefore be responsible for the maintenance of those shared areas - access points, stairs, etc.- plus the building’s exterior, and insurance.
Once you’ve obtained planning permission, you’ll then need to look into getting building regulations approval - this is mandatory for all property conversions.
As this is a large scale project, you’ll need to prepare a building regulations package in order to gain approval. This involves creating in-detail drawings of your future design, which your architect should be able to prepare using the ones submitted for your original planning permission.
At Resi, we offer a comprehensive building regulations package, that includes everything you’ll need to complete a safe and legal build, including…
- Preparation of technical drawings and construction notes
- Room data sheets
- Drainage design
- Party Wall guidance
- Structural Engineer recommendations and liaisons
- Budget guidance
- Council submission
- Tendering guidance and comparisons
Confirm with your lender
By converting your home into two smaller dwellings, you are essentially changing the nature of the property against which your mortgage was secured. If you’ve yet to pay off your mortgage, then you should first seek permission from your lender, before starting your project.
Side note: whether you’re able to borrow more against your home to fund your project will depend of how you propose to split your household, and how much equity is stored in the property.
When you’ve created your two seperate homes, you’ll need to get them both recorded with the Land Registry. Currently, all homes sold, or even remortgaged, after the mid-1990s are automatically registered. However, by turning your dwelling into two distinct properties, you’ll need to apply for a “transfer of part” - but only if you plan on selling. For homeowners who are looking to rent out their new space, getting a leasehold registration will be enough. All of this should can be done on your behalf by your solicitor.