These days many professionals are opting out of purchasing business units in favour of repurposing residential properties for commercial use. Traditional business units usually boast an open-plan layout which can be quite limiting in terms of how the space can be used. Conversely, business owners are taking advantage of the way residential properties are divided to create dedicated areas for workflow depending on the type of business they are running. If you’re considering buying a residential property with the hopes of converting it into a commercial premises there are a couple of things you will need to consider.

Planning Permission

All land and buildings are organised into different ‘use classes’ under The Town and County Planning Order 1987. The use class of your building will dictate whether or not you need to apply for planning permission. Changing a property from one kind of commercial use to another doesn’t usually require planning permission (though there are exceptions to this). Changing a property from residential to commercial use, however, almost always requires planning permission.

It’s important to speak to your local planning authority before purchasing a property you intend to change the use of since planning permissions can sometimes be denied due to a number of external factors. Things like the hours within which your business will operate, parking for employees, and any additional waste collection requirements, can all work against you when applying for change of use.

Building Regulations

All buildings are subject to different regulations depending on what they are being used for. For example, an office building will be subject to a very different set of regulations than a restaurant. Building regulations may change when converting from one use class to another so it’s important to check which regulations will apply once you’ve changed use. You can do this by contacting your local building control body. Failure to comply with regulations means you could be ordered to make major construction alterations to your building by local authorities. You may even be ordered to cease business operations until regulations are met.

Health and Safety

There are multiple health and safety requirements that commercial properties need to meet in order to operate. These will largely depend upon the intended use class of your property but there are very few instances where fire doors and fire exits will not be required. The number of required fire doors and exits, along with any smoke alarm requirements, will depend on the size of your building and the maximum volume of people using it at any given time (this includes both customers and employees). Other health and safety requirements that are easy to overlook include providing access to clean drinking water and suitable sanitation and washing facilities, as well as ensuring there is sufficient light and ventilation throughout the building.

No matter what your purchasing your property for, you will be in need of conveyancing services. We here at Jackson Barrett and Gass are trained property specialists, dedicated to making the conveyancing process as simple as possible. Visit our commercial or residential conveyancing pages for more information.