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  • FIRST POST
    • kunkj
    • By kunkj 9th Oct 16, 10:25 PM
    • 19Posts
    • 16Thanks
    kunkj
    Changing the downstairs WC in a new build to a utility room
    • #1
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:25 PM
    Changing the downstairs WC in a new build to a utility room 9th Oct 16 at 10:25 PM
    Very interested to hear everyone's thoughts on this!

    I've just bought a three-storey, three bedroom new build. Top floor is the master bedroom, ensuite and study. 1st floor has two bedrooms and one bathroom. Ground floor has a small kitchen (2x3m), dining/living room and WC. I think the ground floor is a pretty standard layout, have seen it in number of different developers new builds in the last few years.

    I really feel like three toilets in a three bedroom house is excessive, and that two toilets would be more than enough. Given that the kitchen is pretty compact, I'd personally appreciate having an extra room for laundry/storage/muddy boots.

    Logistically, the WC is already connected to the plumbing, and there's a sink so I expect it to be pretty straightforward to convert it to a utility room. I'm not planning to do anything fancy or complicated, just cap the toilet off, stick a washing machine in there and a kitchen worktop on top. I've had a look at my local council planning guidelines and as far as I can tell 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with toilets doesn't contravene anything, and there's no structural change happening either.

    I'm planning to be in the property a long time, so I'm also not so worried about any effect on the value that losing the WC would have, and again, if its straightforward to convert it to a utility room, hopefully it'll be straightforward to reverse it.

    Is there anything I'm not thinking of? I've tried Googling this and ended up finding a bunch of people arguing about building regs! So possibly am not Googling the right things...

    Any help or input much appreciated
Page 1
    • AnnieO1234
    • By AnnieO1234 9th Oct 16, 10:28 PM
    • 1,648 Posts
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    AnnieO1234
    • #2
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:28 PM
    • #2
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:28 PM
    Iirc doesn't it have to be a toilet in every level for disabilities? Xxx
    • deannatrois
    • By deannatrois 9th Oct 16, 10:32 PM
    • 4,329 Posts
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    deannatrois
    • #3
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:32 PM
    • #3
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:32 PM
    When you have a child, its handy to have a loo on every floor. Might reduce buyers if you get rid of the one on the ground floor where the kitchen is. Yes I know decades ago people used potties etc but its different now, expectations from a new build are different.

    Some people will love having a laundry room on the ground floor, some will expect a bathroom.
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 9th Oct 16, 10:34 PM
    • 3,884 Posts
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    davidmcn
    • #4
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:34 PM
    • #4
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:34 PM
    Iirc doesn't it have to be a toilet in every level for disabilities? Xxx
    Originally posted by AnnieO1234
    Yes, part of the logic in having a ground floor toilet in newbuilds is because building regulations require it for accessibility reasons - I don't know whether it's forbidden to remove it but would seem logical.
    • lee111s
    • By lee111s 9th Oct 16, 10:39 PM
    • 2,470 Posts
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    lee111s
    • #5
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:39 PM
    • #5
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:39 PM
    Once it's your house you can do what you want.
    • Mr.Generous
    • By Mr.Generous 9th Oct 16, 10:43 PM
    • 923 Posts
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    Mr.Generous
    • #6
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:43 PM
    • #6
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:43 PM
    they are a very small space so you wont get much in there, I know the layout you are talking about and have given some thought to a sectional concrete garden building to use as a utility ...

    http://www.lidget.co.uk/our-buildings/concrete-sheds/

    something like this with power and water.
    • Person_one
    • By Person_one 9th Oct 16, 10:49 PM
    • 26,057 Posts
    • 89,441 Thanks
    Person_one
    • #7
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:49 PM
    • #7
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:49 PM

    I'm planning to be in the property a long time, so I'm also not so worried about any effect on the value that losing the WC would have, and again, if its straightforward to convert it to a utility room, hopefully it'll be straightforward to reverse it.
    Originally posted by kunkj
    This is the important bit.

    The cost of converting it back in 10 or 15 or 20 years will be minimal compared to the benefit you'll get by having a handy utility room if your kitchen is cramped.

    If you don't have any regular visitors who are elderly or disabled or might appreciate a downstairs toilet for any other reason then I say go for it. The rules about accessibility don't apply once you're living in it, unless you're also running a business open to the public I suppose!
    • G_M
    • By G_M 9th Oct 16, 10:51 PM
    • 37,092 Posts
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    G_M
    • #8
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:51 PM
    • #8
    • 9th Oct 16, 10:51 PM
    You would not need planning consent so it is entirely up to you. Your home your choice.

    Yes, I think you'd need the work to comply with Building Regulations, but that should be no issue at all.

    Some kinds of building projects are exempt from the Regulations, however generally if you are planning to carry out 'Building Work' as defined in Regulation 3 of the Building Regulations, then it must comply with the Building Regulations. This means that the Regulations will probably apply if you want to:
    • Put up a new building
    • Extend or alter an existing one
    • Provide services and/or fittings in a building such as washing and sanitary facilities, hot water cylinders, foul water and rainwater drainage, replacement windows, and fuel burning appliances of any type.
    https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200128/building_control/38/building_regulations
    Last edited by G_M; 09-10-2016 at 10:54 PM.
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 9th Oct 16, 11:30 PM
    • 3,884 Posts
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    davidmcn
    • #9
    • 9th Oct 16, 11:30 PM
    • #9
    • 9th Oct 16, 11:30 PM
    Yes, I think you'd need the work to comply with Building Regulations, but that should be no issue at all.
    Originally posted by G_M
    Even when the Building Regulations state that there needs to be a toilet on the ground floor? (looking at para 1.17 of Part M)
    • Lord Baltimore
    • By Lord Baltimore 9th Oct 16, 11:43 PM
    • 1,164 Posts
    • 1,182 Thanks
    Lord Baltimore
    Ground floor has a small kitchen (2x3m), dining/living room and WC.
    Originally posted by kunkj
    The ground floor is where you'll spend most time and where any guests/visitors will be. You'll miss that ground floor WC if you convert it imho.
    Disclaimer: I make it up as I go along.
    • googler
    • By googler 10th Oct 16, 12:17 AM
    • 14,280 Posts
    • 9,240 Thanks
    googler
    Even when the Building Regulations state that there needs to be a toilet on the ground floor? (looking at para 1.17 of Part M)
    Originally posted by davidmcn
    This only applies to 'newly-erected dwellings', as stated earlier
    • anselld
    • By anselld 10th Oct 16, 7:15 AM
    • 4,869 Posts
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    anselld
    Well, there you go, another bunch of people arguing about Building Regs!

    Building Control are very unlikely to approve a change from a building which currently complies with Part M to one which does not.

    However they are also very unlikely to know about it unless you ask them. So entirely your choice to do what you like with your house but best not to ask for permission.
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 10th Oct 16, 8:39 AM
    • 3,884 Posts
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    davidmcn
    This only applies to 'newly-erected dwellings', as stated earlier
    Originally posted by googler
    I think the principle is that you can't carry out work which would result in the dwelling having a lower standard than those which applied when it was built:
    Regulation 4 states that building work should be carried out in such a way that, when work is complete:
    a. For new buildings or work on a building that complied with the applicable requirements of the Building Regulations: the building complies with the applicable requirements of the Building Regulations
    • rach_k
    • By rach_k 10th Oct 16, 10:28 AM
    • 653 Posts
    • 1,043 Thanks
    rach_k
    If you plan to have kids in that house, I would keep the downstairs loo as running up and downstairs with a young child who needs to wee every 10 minutes is a real pain, as is bustling older kids out of the house when they always need a wee once shoes and coats are already on! It's something that makes it easier when you have guests too. We don't have a downstairs loo but I'd really like one and am hoping to convert the (very useful, storage-wise) cupboard under the stairs into one when we can.

    Is there no way you could squeeze both a loo/sink and washing machine into the room? You can get sinks that are on top of the loo I think.
    • kunkj
    • By kunkj 11th Nov 16, 12:01 PM
    • 19 Posts
    • 16 Thanks
    kunkj
    Thanks everyone for the replies! Got completely waylaid since I made this post by delays in exchange and completion and everything else....Lots of food for thought here.

    Interesting thoughts on accessibility/disability/building regs! If I do seriously consider it I would give planning a call, but for now I will stick a pin in it. Appreciate the link to building regs, G_M!

    Mr.Generous I had actually thought about having a similar shed anyway, to stick my bike in along with everything else that needs to go in a shed! I do wonder if running power & water to it would prove a bigger pain than dealing with a cramped kitchen

    Re. elderly people & kids, don't really have many of those in my life(), but I definitely agree that a downstairs wc is great for when you have guests round. rach_k I just looked at some compact washing machines and was trying to work out if I could stick a washing machine under the sink! I've had a loo with a sink on top before (that toilet also had a heated seat so it was pretty luxurious....)

    A friend has just bought a 3 bedroom with one bathroom upstairs and no other bathroom/loos. She is in favour of me keeping the downstairs wc which did make me wonder, how come you just bought a place with 2 less toilets than I have haha. If I come up with any creative/innovative approach I will be sure to update I look forward to future building regs debate!
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 11th Nov 16, 12:28 PM
    • 12,139 Posts
    • 10,514 Thanks
    AdrianC
    A friend has just bought a 3 bedroom with one bathroom upstairs and no other bathroom/loos. She is in favour of me keeping the downstairs wc which did make me wonder, how come you just bought a place with 2 less toilets than I have haha.
    Originally posted by kunkj
    Perhaps that's what she's now asking herself...?

    TBH, in the short term, I'd be tempted to leave it as-is, and maybe start to stick some of the guff in there. If you find yourself using the loo and the guff getting in your way, then there's your answer. If, in a year, you find the guff has rendered the loo unusable and you've not even noticed, then there's your answer.
    • kunkj
    • By kunkj 11th Nov 16, 1:13 PM
    • 19 Posts
    • 16 Thanks
    kunkj
    Haha yes, I think she may have wc envy. But then again, I have conservatory envy of her place so we are pretty even. And thanks AdrianC, I think that may be the best and most straightforward way to approach it! Also if anyone works for an appliance manufacturer, 'washing machine with sink' is definitely a gap in the market....
    • oystercatcher
    • By oystercatcher 11th Nov 16, 1:27 PM
    • 1,633 Posts
    • 4,135 Thanks
    oystercatcher
    I have a disabled friend, unable to climb stairs and she cannot visit either of her adult children because both houses are without a downstairs toilet.

    It's just possible they consider that an advantage though LOL !

    An outdoor 'utility shed' may well be the best solution if it is possible.
    • xylophone
    • By xylophone 11th Nov 16, 2:29 PM
    • 19,214 Posts
    • 10,925 Thanks
    xylophone
    I would not get rid of the downstairs loo.

    If you converted the lavatory to a "basin on top" type, would you have room to fit in a washing machine, perhaps a "top loader" type?

    Or is there any room to extend your kitchen to create a utility area?
    • LittleMax
    • By LittleMax 11th Nov 16, 2:32 PM
    • 1,150 Posts
    • 1,578 Thanks
    LittleMax
    We have removed the toilet from the downstairs wc and put our washing machine in there. This was so that we could use the space in the kitchen for a dishwasher.

    We have a very badly designed kitchen in our new build - u shape with no proper corner cupboards! So this is a better option than losing a cupboard to accommodate another appliance.

    The pan and cistern are now safely up in the loft, and can easily be refitted if we move or if we fit a new properly designed kitchen - whichever comes first.

    We are a couple with no kids, and have ensuite and bathroom on the 1st floor. As we mainly use the ensuite, the bathroom is always clean and tidy for visitors.

    We knew we could easily manage without the downstairs wc as in our last house - which we gutted, we took the downstairs loo out early on in proceedings and it was the last thing we completed. In the meantime this was a handy room for storing all manner of things DIY related! So Adrian's suggestion of using it as a storage area for a while and seeing if you miss it is a good one.
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