You see them films, perhaps in home magazines or as part of grand TV projects - the converted building. Once a church, now a home for four. Once a warehouse, now a set of trendy London flats.
If you’re looking to buy your own ‘fixer-upper’ outside of the residential box, then here’s our guide to taking commercial buildings and transforming them into a dream home…
What is your property’s ‘use class’?
So you’ve found the ideal building to convert but what category does it fall into?
To organise Britain’s many buildings and their uses, local authorities sort them into ‘use classes’. They come in four parts: A, B, C, D.
Part A: covers shops, pubs, restaurants, and other professional services, such as estate agents.
Part B: covers offices, industrial buildings (excluding those involved with waste or chemical treatments), and storage units.
Part C: covers residential buildings, such as homes, hotels, and care facilities.
Part D: covers non-residential buildings, such as creches, schools, and clinics. It also includes places of leisure, like the cinema or gym.
These parts come with their own detailed sub-categories, to get a full picture of what ‘use classes’ are about, see our full guide.
Do you need planning permission?
To convert a commercial property into a residential one, you’ll need to change its use class. However, this doesn’t always mean you need planning permission.
Thanks to your permitted development rights, some conversions can go ahead without needing a full planning application. These include converting the following into a residential home…
- Light industrial buildings (B1c)
- Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers and showrooms (A1)
- Banks, estate agents, and other professional services (A2)
In order to qualify for permitted development, these buildings mustn’t exceed 150 square metres.
It’s also worth bearing in mind, while these properties won’t require planning permission, you’ll still need to notify your council by seeking ‘prior approval’. What’s more, if you plan on extending or significantly altering the exterior, this work might need planning permission.
Obtaining planning permission
If required, you’ll need to submit a full planning application, complete with a ‘change of use’ request.
You’ll need to detail your intended works by providing drawings of the building as it stands today and what your project will carry out. An architect can prepare these for you and, to give yourself the best chance of first-time success, they can also manage the application on your behalf.
Learn more about the planning process.
Converting a listed building
If the property you have an eye on is listed, beware that this comes with its own planning challenges.
Not only will you need planning permission, but your local authority will also be more strict on what you can or can’t do. They might insist on more expensive materials and a continuation of style in the original design.
Homes with conservation areas might face the same scrutiny and are likewise not covered by permitted development rights.
Get free advice
Whether you’ve already purchased a commercial property or you’re on the hunt for one, the best thing you can do is talk to an expert.
At Resi, we provide complimentary consultations upfront, so you can understand the ins and outs of any potential project from the start. Our team provides expert advice on:
- Building regulations
- And construction
So, if you’re looking for a helping hand, book your free consultation here.