Office to Residential Conversions: All You Need to Know

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When you look at office buildings with their industrial finishes and corporate styles, it’s often hard to imagine them as homely. Visions of cramped living spaces and noisy city living have the potential to put many property seekers off their search before they’ve even begun.

But now with more and more offices getting converted to residential homes, this is a trend which shows no signs of dying out. Before 2013, there were far fewer conversions taking place, but all this changed after planning laws were relaxed. Developers no longer had to have planning permission before undertaking a new office conversion project, which meant that applications for conversions across the UK rose by 88%. These relaxed rules were made permanent in April last year as a way of tackling the housing crisis, allowing many more projects to get off the ground.

Whilst some conversions have been put on hold recently due to uncertainty over Brexit and property prices, in cities like London where space and the property market is so precious, developers are continuing to get started on projects. It therefore becomes all the more important to know what options are available to you when you start looking for a new home.

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And why convert office space? Good question, but one that isn’t too complex to answer. Given the shortage of housing throughout the country, office space has become a natural solution for new flats given that they’re usually well located and can provide good space for lots of potential homeowners in a competitive property market. Many offices from the 1960s and 70s across the UK cities have been lying vacant for a while, deemed no longer fit for purpose or not used efficiently, and so developers have jumped on these empty spaces to transform them for modern-day living. Some of these conversions have had the potential to raise the value of the buildings ten-fold, and the approval process from the local council now takes far less time. Although not all office blocks are suitable for conversion, it’s easy to see why this type of building work has boomed in the last few years.

But converting offices to homes is not without its own set of issues. Drainage and plumbing can prove tricky, given that most offices only have one or two toilets per floor compared to flats which require at least one toilet each. Trenches on the bottom floor are often needed to be dug in to fit new drains. Soundproofing is also often required to protect nearby businesses from receiving noise complaints from new tenants.

In spite of these structural challenges, the perks of office conversions far outweigh the pitfalls. These relaxed development rules have allowed for the recycling of dead space, creating much-needed housing in the UK’s busiest cities. Whilst there’s no predicting what the future of housing looks like for Britain in the coming years, one thing’s for sure – office conversions will continue to be crucial in supplying the country with new housing for those who need it.


Here at Convert, we specialise in transforming office space into liveable properties. If you own or manage office space and want to investigate the possibility of converting it into residential homes, contact us for a quote today and see how we can work together to transform a problematic property into a space of huge potential.