What to Consider When Converting a Property for Commercial Use

When you decide to convert a building into a commercial property it opens up some vital logistical decisions that owners need to act on. In the planning stage, there are a number of things that you should consider such as health and safety, planning permissions and building regulations. Most of these considerations are in fact legal requirements and you can be hit with serious implications if you don’t take them on board in your build. Therefore, it’s crucial that you understand what is involved in the design and tick the necessary boxes to ensure compliance. In this article, we’ve broken down the most important factors when converting your space to ensure you’re on the right track!

Permission of Change

The most important and most challenging step you will face during the commercial use transition is securing permission for a change of use from the local council. The Town and County Planning Order 1987 organises land and buildings into different categories, known as ‘use classes’. Whether or not you will need planning permission is dictated by which use class your building falls into and what you plan to use it for. For example, a conversion from a shop into an estate agents or similar will not usually require permission but when converting residential property into a commercial building of any use class, you will almost always need to obtain planning permission. You can find out whether you will need permission for a change of use in this table on the Planning Portal.

Building Regulations

Regardless of whether much construction or change is needed in the transition, building regulations often still apply when changing class. These restrictions are enforced by your local body and they will be reviewed so it is always best to find out what applies and how this will affect the process. Speaking with commercial property agents for guidance in the first place can help ensure you’re compliant before then speaking with the governing body as you don’t want to be on their radar if you’re not at that stage yet. Again, if you fail to meet the governing standings, you’ll be shut down and ordered to make major changes to your building, which is why it’s crucial to know what you need in the first place so you don’t cost yourself money having to readdress construction elements.


Depending on the position you’re in, you could be looking to change the current property you own or you may be looking to buy residential property with the aim of converting it. If this is the case, you should speak with local chartered surveyors in Manchester to ensure that if you need to change the layout of the building, that you actually can. Don’t forget to learn more about the area surrounding the building, too, as plumbing, drainage pipes, and rights of way could all prevent you from carrying out building work. Discovering that a property you have already committed to isn’t suitable for your plans would be devastating, so be sure to make all the necessary checks before you sign on the dotted line.

Fire & Security Safety

Health and safety precautions are a vital consideration for any commercial setup. If you’re creating the building, you will have a duty to safeguard the people on your property so you need to comply with the regulatory reform orders. Ensuring things like fire doors and exits are in place are just some of the things that your building must have in order to be offering the right level of protection for the people visiting or working in your building. This safety level doesn’t stop with fire or health regulations. Commercial property needs stricter and very different security levels than that of a residential property. Increased measures will need to be put in place. Remember the building will often to vacant during the night and equipment may be much more expensive than your everyday house. Things like security doors, drills, alarms or even on-site guards may need to be put in place to ensure theft or damage doesn’t occur. This will only make you a more attractive property for potential commercial renters.