Conversion + Adaptation of buildings is what building surveyors are all about, as it requires an understanding how buildings work and how they can be altered.
Conversion can be defined as a change in function or change in use, such as converting an office block and making it suitable for residential use.
Adaptation means the process of adjustment and alteration of a building to meet new requirements.
It is key that before embarking on the conversion or adaption of an existing building that there is a thorough understanding of its properties, both structural and building fabric. With this knowledge correct diagnosis can be made (why is there damp?), as can informed decision making (can this wall be removed?).
The following issues require careful consideration:
- Building Construction: Identifying the exact method of construction in conjunction with the materials used has to be ascertained to understand the implications of alteration i.e. which elements are load-bearing or structurally significant.
- Building Condition: Are there defects that require rectification and will prevent the proposed works being feasible from a cost point of view?
- Statutory Compliance: Where a building undergoes a change of use planning consent may be required and the resulting building must comply with the current building regulations, with consideration required to elements such as thermal insulation, sound insulation, means of escape, fire protection and accessibility.
- Building Suitability: This relates to the size and shape of the building and requires careful examination to ensure it will meet the client’s requirements.
- Legal issues: It is possible that the adaptation of a building will involve work that requires a party wall notification, or fall under the Construction Design Management Regulations or The Equality Act (replaced the Disability Discrimination Act).
- Clients Project Brief: It is critical that the client’s requirements and expectations of time, cost and suitability are examined to ensure that there is a common understanding between what the client is expecting and what can be delivered within the set parameters.
- Sustainability: The traditional driving forces of time and cost are usually the most influential; however, consideration needs to be given to sustainable practices. Examples of this would be an appraisal of the condition of the existing roof covering, is it in a suitable condition so that it can all be reused or will other materials have to be found to match?
- – Budget: All important before getting too far with matters – do the proposed works fit with client’s budget?