How to Extend Your Business Premises Without the Need for Planning Permission

A business’ needs can soon change (and change again!) when it comes to staff headcount and operational workstations.  In fact, a shortage of space can make it difficult for your team to execute their day-to-day responsibilities effectively and efficiently.

This may sound all too familiar for some business owners or office managers and, although your first thought might be to relocate the business entirely, finding bigger premises to accommodate your changing needs comes with a hefty price tag… not to mention the hassle and delays it will inevitably bring too.

So what’s plan B?  An extension perhaps?  That’s another good idea, but extensions are also costly and require planning permission which is not guaranteed.  So back to the drawing board it is, right?

Wrong!  Instead, let’s think vertically… could a mezzanine solve your workplace woes?

You could install a mezzanine floor into your existing workplace without the need for planning permission or ‘property hunting’. It’s also a cheaper alternative to an extension or relocation.  That said, you will need Building Regulation Approval – if only you knew of a reliable company to manage all of that for you, eh?

Cubex to the rescue!
To comply with the Building Act 1984 and the subsequent statutory instruments known as the Building Regulations, Building Regulations Approval is required to construct certain structures in England and Wales.

Building regulations are intended to protect people’s health, safety and welfare in and around the building.  The regulations are designed to improve conservation of fuel and power, protecting and enhancing the environment whilst promoting sustainable development too.  Local councils administer the regulations and it can soon become a logistical nightmare… and don’t even get us started on the paperwork!

Thankfully for business owners wanting to make space for their business to grow with a workplace refurb, Cubex Contracts are on hand to help.  In all cases, a new mezzanine will require Building Regulation Approval, it’s unavoidable. However,  once appointed, Cubex will administer the application on your behalf – that’s one less thing for you to worry about!

Fire protection… let’s not forget that!
You can make use of your mezzanine floor in a number of ways regardless of whether you are working from a commercial office, industrial warehouse or retail showroom; you could use your mezzanine for storage, production, board meetings, communal areas for the team… you name it!  It’s a whole other floor for you to use as you need it.

Because a mezzanine floor is considered an additional storey in your premises, it is therefore a legal requirement to provide a 60-minute fire protection to the underside.  So that means that a mezzanine floor must be fire rated when:

  • Used for any other purpose besides storage where people are permanently employed (eg an office space).
  • It measures more than 20 metres in any direction.
  • It exceeds 50% or more of the floor area of the space that it is installed.

Providing your mezzanine is used for storage only and doesn’t exceed 20m in length or width, nor does it exceed more than 50% of a business’ total floor area, then fire protection is not required.

But this is not something to lose sleep over; Cubex Contracts offer guidance to our customers regarding fire regulations and we consult with them, and Building Control, throughout the design and installation process so that our clients can be sure their workplace refurb is designed with safety in mind.

Regulations… do we really need them?
Absolutely!  Failure to comply with building regulations will result in prosecution and enforcement notices including a hefty fine and/or the instruction to alter or remove the work which contravenes the regulations.  If a business does not comply with the notice then the local authority has the power to undertake the work itself and recover the costs of doing so from the owner.  It’s really not worth the risk!

Building regulations are unavoidable with every mezzanine floor installation and most office refurbishments. As a general rule of thumb, if the means of escape (for example in the case of a fire) are being affected then always assume that your office refurb will require building regs.

Also, if the purpose group of the building is changing or if any changes are taking place to the structure, then, again, building regulation approval must be sought.  Similarly, if your refurbishment makes any changes to the number of toilet facilities, insulation, protected fire escape routes or compartmentation of the building then approval must be sought then too.  But it’s no biggie – Cubex will deal with all of that for you while you concentrate on the important stuff like running your business.

Save yourself some wonga!
A mezzanine floor is a cost-friendly solution for businesses that are short of space whether that be in terms of storage, production or customer-facing zones.  And they’re so popular because of their versatility, stability and durability meaning they can store literally anything, even the weight of heavy machinery.

Many commercial buildings are designed with a headroom of 6m or more and, apart from being expensive in terms of heating and cooling, this un-productive space can be used to erect a mezzanine floor to create a useful area to extend your operational facilities – you’ll need a minimum headroom height of at least 2.3m for each floor.

As your business grows you may want to re-direct your cash flow to other departments rather than a new office building. Well, a mezzanine floor is a rent-free space because it’s not part of the structure of the building and therefore the cost per square metre is significantly reduced.

So, to recap, a mezzanine can virtually double your workspace (maybe even triple it), is cheaper than relocating and you don’t need planning permission!  If you’re short on space then a new mezzanine is a no brainer, surely? 

If you’d like to discuss how a mezzanine floor installation could work for your business, get in touch with Cubex Contracts on 01933 460422 or click here to email us – we help businesses adapt their premises to ever-changing needs.

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