Planning a new internal partition

Building a partition will not increase the actual floor area available within a house but by subdividing it more appropriately it can provide extra rooms which will make living in the house more enjoyable.

Although UK planning permission will not be required for erecting an internal partition, UK building regulations still need to be satisfied, these cover such aspects as ventilation, fire safety and drainage (if appropriate).

It is worth discussing the plans with the local building control office for guidance as to the requirements and whether formal building regulation approval will be required.

Whatever the purpose of the partition, a number of points need to be considered:

  • Lighting - natural daylight may not be necessary although it is often desirable. If an existing window is not going to be included in the partitioned off area, a new window could be added in an outside wall. Alternatively glazing could be incorporated into the partition to 'borrow' light from the adjacent room, this can easily be incorporated along the top of the partition.
  • Ventilation - although a window is probably the most common form of ventilation, it is quite possible to include an electrical extractor fan to ventilate the new area if there is no or inadequate window opening.
  • Access to the room - generally a new doorway will need to be built into the new partition, various options are possible - a standard internal (30 in) hinged door, two half doors, a sliding door or a curtain - limitations of space may be overcome by careful planning. Remember that furniture may need to pass through the new doorway.
  • Electrics - often when a room is divided, it is necessary to change the ceiling lights. The existing light may need to be repositioned and a new light and switch may need to be added in the 'new' area. The switch will usually be positioned by the side the door in the partition, so the wiring and switch will need to be incorporated into the partition during construction. Alternatively a ceiling mounted pull switch may be added - this is a UK requirement where the room is to be used as a washroom or shower.
    There may be a need for additional wall sockets on one or both sides of the partition; it's generally easier to build these into the partition rather than adding new sockets to existing walls.
    Outlets may also be required on the partition for heaters, shower units etc.
    Remember that Part P regulations apply and any new installation will need certification.
  • Plumbing may also be required. The most obvious requirement is where the partition is being built to create a shower area.

If services like electricity and water do need to be provided, it is usually easier to place these inside the new partition wall rather than having to fit them in existing walls.

Draw a plan of the existing room and draw in the proposed partition and work out where to put doors, extra windows, forced ventilation, electric's, and plumbing etc. It may be difficult to visualise the scale of the new rooms and it often helps to 'make' a full scale plan by marking out the proposed partition on the floor of the actual room and moving the furniture into the 'two' rooms - this will help to determine if the rooms will both be usable.