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February 2016

Question

I plan to convert a garage into a bedroom and bathroom. The property is in Dublin. I understand that there is a new requirement for minimum ceiling heights for habitable rooms. Is that true?

Answer

Tall ceilings add an open feeling and sense of spaciousness to a room.

This, combined with higher window head heights, to increase daylight and sunlight, can be a real way to add value to a property.

However, tall ceilings are not without their downsides.They may increase the volume of space within a room to be heated and, from a maintenance point of view, they are a little more difficult to clean and paint.

Minimum floor-to-ceiling heights are needed for a couple of reasons. First, and quite obviously, from a health-and-safety viewpoint, there needs to be adequate headroom.

Second, ceilings need to be of the necessary height to permit satisfactory ventilation.

In this regards, Part F of the Technical Guidance Documents “suggests” a minimum of 2.4m, which is generally the accepted minimum, except in cases where there are sloped ceilings such as with dormer roofs.

Here, a ceiling height of 2.4m is only required for a certain proportion of the room area.

In the case of a garage being converted, you will, in many ways, be restricted by the dimensions of the existing structure.

Notwithstanding this, my recommendation to clients is to keep ceiling heights as tall as possible, within reason. 2.5m to 2.7m would be ideal.

While the local planning authority may comment on such matters (when planning permission is required), ceiling heights are generally enforced via building control legislation.

Andrew O’Gorman is a chartered planning and development surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.