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You should not need to apply for planning permission for internal alterations including building or removing an internal wall.

If you live in a listed building, however, you will need listed building consent for any significant works whether internal or external.

Building Regulations

If you wish to build a new internal wall, remove an internal wall, or form an opening in an internal wall, building regulations will normally apply.

There are typically two types of internal walls:

New Internal Wall(s)

Work to provide a new internal wall generally requires approval under the Building Regulations 2000

In the case of conversion projects:

Removal of Internal Wall(s)

Care should be taken before removing any internal wall. These walls can have a number of functions that could affect the building and the safety of the occupants within the building.

Fire Safety

Building a new wall to subdivide a room or create a new room can affect the means of escape from fire.  If in doing so a situation is created whereby the route for leaving an existing or new room is only possible through another room then an egress (escape) window from the existing or new room (inner room) will be needed as well as, possibly, one or more smoke alarms. 

If the floor level of the inner room is greater than 4.5m above ground level (as with the top floor of a typical three storey house for example) the use of an egress window may not be safe and therefore an alternative solution will need to be sought.  This may well be one that does not create an inner room situation in the first place.

Some walls around stairways (typically in houses 3 storeys or more in height) need to have fire resistance to ensure a fire in one of the rooms off of the stairway doesn’t unduly affect the means of escape from other rooms in the house.  In other houses (such as in two storey houses) the walls may not need to have any particular fire resistance, but would still afford some protection to the stairway by containing the fire and smoke for a period of time.

The impact of the removal of an internal wall on fire safety should be carefully considered. In two storey houses, the removal of such a wall could normally be compensated by the provision of mains powered interlinked smoke alarms and egress windows from the other rooms off the stair. However, in houses of three storeys and greater this compensation may not be sufficient. The exact features needed will vary on a case by case basis.

A new wall (including any door leading through it), which separates a room from the stairway may need to have adequate fire resistance (typically in three storey houses) and, in the case of a door, be self closing.

Load Bearing Walls

A load bearing wall is one which supports other elements of the building, such as (and most commonly) the:

These are the most common parts of a building an internal wall could be helping to support, however there are other things to look for. An example could be where the chimney stack has been removed on the ground floor.  A beam has been placed across the underside of this stack to support it, which then sits on an internal wall to transfer the load down to the foundation.

A structural engineer or surveyor can be employed to determine if the wall is load bearing and then design a beam to cater for these loads.


Structural Support

The beam should be designed to cater for the loads that the wall was originally taking. This beam then needs to be supported on two other supports (typically walls) that are capable of taking the loads to foundations. Any new beam should normally have at least 150mm bearing (overlap onto the existing wall) on each side of the opening and the existing wall beneath the bearings are likely to need to be strengthened to prevent crushing of them. This may require the installation of an area of dense concrete (cast in-situ or pre-cast), known as a padstones to spread the load. The size of padstones will vary depending on the circumstances of the case in hand it is advisable to speak to a structural engineer or surveyor before starting any works.

Fire Safety

If the beam is steel then it should normally be protected against fire so that it will have 30 minutes resistance to fire (if measured in a standard test). There are different ways that this may be achieved, but most common is the use of two or more layers of properly fixed plasterboard - the thickness of which will depend on the manufacturer's specification.

If an exposed timber beam is preferred then a calculation is generally required to demonstrate how much inherent fire resistance it has - dependent on it's size and species of timber. A concrete beam, which would normally have steel reinforcement inside it, would generally has adequate fire resistance properties, providing the steel inside is adequately covered by the concrete.

Sound Insulation

If a new wall is to separate a bedroom or room containing a WC from another room it will need to have improved sound insulation installed. 

There are many different products and solutions on the market and gaining advice from a manufacturer or Building Control Body is recommended.

Loft Conversion Internal Walls

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Internal Walls

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