Where a house renovation results in a ‘material change of use’, there are requirements for upgrading certain building elements and meeting standards that go beyond what is required for a typical house renovation.

Thanks to Nick Paley at Assure Building Control for their assistance with this article. Assure Building Control provide a fully licenced independent service (as an alternative to local authority building control) to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations.

Image above Rebecca, architect from Broadland, East of England. See more and shortlist them for your home project here.


When is a house conversion classed as a ‘material change of use’?

Regulation 5 of the Building Regulations sets out what is considered as a material change of use:

From https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/2214/part/2

Meaning of material change of use

5.  For the purposes of paragraph 8(1)(e) of Schedule 1 to the Act and for the purposes of these Regulations, there is a material change of use where there is a change in the purposes for which or the circumstances in which a building is used, so that after that change—

(a)the building is used as a dwelling, where previously it was not;

(b)the building contains a flat, where previously it did not;

(c)the building is used as an hotel or a boarding house, where previously it was not;

(d)the building is used as an institution, where previously it was not;

(e)the building is used as a public building, where previously it was not;

(f)the building is not a building described in classes 1 to 6 in Schedule 2, where previously it was;

(g)the building, which contains at least one dwelling, contains a greater or lesser number of dwellings than it did previously;

(h)the building contains a room for residential purposes, where previously it did not;

(i)the building, which contains at least one room for residential purposes, contains a greater or lesser number of such rooms than it did previously; …

(j)the building is used as a shop, where previously it was not; or

(k)the building is a building described in regulation 7(4)(a), where previously it was not].


Building Regulation requirements for a house conversion

Regulation 6 lists the Building Regulation requirements relating to material changes of use. In most cases, the main areas that could have the most significant impact on your proposals (and therefore project budget) are:

  • B1 Means of warning and escape (fire regs) and;
  • L1 Conservation of fuel and power.

This could mean it is possible and depending on the proposed (final) layout that fire doors would be needed, and also that thermal elements of the building may need to be upgraded, e.g. insulating walls, floor and roof, replacing single glazed windows etc.


Do you need to meet building regulations for a listed building?

It is worth noting that there may be some latitude on the thermal upgrade (and some other building regulations provisions) if a building is listed i.e. paragraph 0.10 states…

‘The energy efficiency of historic and traditional dwellings should be improved only if doing so will not cause long-term deterioration of the building’s fabric or fittings. In particular, this applies to historic and traditional buildings with a vapour permeable construction that both absorbs moisture and readily allows moisture to evaporate.’ and paragraph 0.12′

‘In determining whether full energy efficiency improvements should be made, the building control body should consider the advice of the local authority’s conservation officer’.


Get professional advice

The above information is an introductory guide only. Please always consult your authority before starting work on your project. Your architect can do this on your behalf if you wish.

Choosing the right architect, with expertise in building conservation is a critical first step. We can help you find the right architect for your project for free.


  • Quickly see who’s interested in your job.
  • Create a shortlist.
  • Invite up to three for a no-obligation consultation.
  • It’s free!

Emily  Design for Me

facebook instagram tweet linkedin pinterest


Find your perfect design pro within minutes…

Here at Design for Me we match you with the right design professional, from thousands all over the UK. Get quotes & arrange up to three no obligation consultations. And it’s all completely free! Find out more here or get started below…



Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)