Although you generally do not need to seek planning permission to build an internal stud wall, you will need to follow certain building regulations. Building regulations are in place for the safety of the householders and anybody visiting the property. Failure to follow building regulations can be dangerous and can effect your ability to sell the property if and when the time comes to do so. Not only that, but if you non-regulation improvements or additions come to light, you may be required to return the changes to their previous state.
Working out which building regulations apply to your particular situation depends a lot on the purpose of the stud wall. If you are simply partitioning off a corner of a bedroom to create a large wardrobe, few building regs will apply. If, however, you are creating new rooms, you may need to follow the regulations more closely.
Here are some of the things you will need to consider when building your stud walls:
If you are dividing a large bedroom into two smaller rooms, you must ensure that there is at least one window in each of the two new rooms. This is to ensure that there is a possible escape route in case of fire. If the floor level outside the new window would be more than 4.5m, you would also need to create an alternative to jumping (fire escape ladder, etc).
If your new stud wall faces onto the stairwell of a house of more than three storeys, you will have to add extra fire protection to the wall. This is to stop a fire in the room facing the stairwell spreading too quickly and preventing escape. Fire resistant plasterboard can be bought from most builder’s merchants and diy stores. Any door in a wall in this type of situation would also need to be fire resistant and self-closing.
Sound insulation may be required if your stud wall is dividing a bedroom from another room, or a bathroom/WC from another room. Sound insulation can be achieved by using sound-resistant plasterboard or by filling the gaps between the studs with sheets of dense insulation material. There are many options available and it is worth speaking to a specialist supplier to find the best solution for you.
A non-loadbearing stud wall will not usually need additional structural support. However, in some cases where the wall will run parallel to the floor joists, you may need to add a second joist alongside the one on which the wall will sit and be fixed in to. If you are unsure if this will be needed, speak to a structural engineer.
If your new stud wall will be creating a new room, you will need to ensure there is adequate ventilation. The room should be able to be “purged” by opening a window, and there should also be trickle ventilation built in to the window frame or other area of the room. If you are creating a new kitchen, bathroom, utility room or WC, you should also consider a mechanical extraction fan.
Building Regulations Approval
Here is a partial guide to the types of jobs which will need Building Regulations Approval:
- The erection or extension of a building
- Installation of replacement windows
- When underpinning the foundations of a building
- The insertion of cavity wall insulation
- Anything which will change the building’s main use (house to shop, shop back to house, etc
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but should give you an idea of the type of things which need approval. You can find out more by visiting www.planningportal.gov.uk.
Meeting Building Regulations is important and is the responsibility of the person carrying out the work. Many DIY jobs will not even be subject to building regs, but anything changing the structure or changing the use of a room, etc, almost certainly will be. If you are unsure, speak to you local Building Control Body.