Last edited 01 Jun 2021


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The term ‘conversion' can relate to a change of use or a change in function from a building’s existing usage – whatever that may be – to a new use. For example, a church may be converted into apartments, a garage may be converted into an office, a lighthouse may be converted into a home and so on. Loft conversions or attic conversions involve converting roof spaces into to liveable accommodation.

Converting buildings may require quite drastic interventions, not only in terms of layout, materials and possibly openings created or closed in the building fabric, but also structural alterations which may be significant and require an engineer’s input. All this will require a thorough understanding of how buildings work and how they can be altered in the most cost-effective way to achieve the desired aesthetic and functional results.

Many of these instances will require planning consent, perhaps including an application for change of use if the new use of the building is in a different class from the old use, and the change is not considered a permitted development.

For more information see: Planning permission.

In addition, proposed changes must complies with the building regulations, particularly regarding thermal insulation, sound insulation, fire protection, means of escape, ventilation and access and so on.

For more information see: Building regulations.

Legal matters must also be considered and if necessary, the expert advice of a construction lawyer be sought. For example, some works may require a party wall agreement or come under CDM regulations or the Equality Act (replaces former Disability Discrimination Act).

The term conversion can also refer to the process of converting units from one system to another (often between the metric and imperial), for example converting pounds to kilograms or centimetres to inches. It may also relate to conversions between different currencies.

For more information see: Units

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