Combining two separate flats into one home can add value in terms of uniqueness, space, and exclusivity but the process can be a long and stressful one. Here we share some tips to make your home a special one!
Combining Two Flats on the Same Floor into One Home
- Check to see if the units are structurally safe to combine
- Appoint a structural engineer, architect or building surveyor
- Check for load-bearing walls, Gas and Water Lines and how they will be impacted
- Submit professional plans to the Building’s Department
Combining Two Flats to a Duplex
- Similar to combining horizontally you need to check that the hole in the ceiling is not affecting the structural integrity of the building. In the same cases, strengthening works such as the installation of steel beams may have to be carried out.
Combining Top Floor to Roof Terrace
- If the staircase planned leads up to the rooftop terrace, a roof hatch or shelter would have to be built as access and protection from rainwater. In this case, the landlord would not only have to seek the authorization of the Buildings Department, but would also have to apply for an “occupation permit”. Also, the new structure should not violate fire safety and building codes. For example, it cannot block fire escape routes of other residents.
What works require building department permission?
- constructing a new extension, vertically or horizontally, to an existing building
- linking two or more floors by removing parts of the floor slab and/or adding internal staircases
- combining two or more units into one by removing the partition walls
- conversion of an existing building, including wholesale conversion of an existing industrial building
- installing cladding or curtain wall to the façade of existing buildings
- adding water tanks, canopies, shelters, structural frames for advertisement signboards, air-conditioning plants, etc.
- modification of means of escape, means of access and barrier free access
How long does the process take?
- The entire process of drawing up plans, submissions of plans and getting approval can take anywhere from 6 months to 1 year depending on the complexity of the works.
What are the legal implications?
- check if there are restrictive covenants in the title, deed of mutual covenant or land lease that prevent two flats in a building being converted into a single dwelling
- if the units have not received building permission and are considered two separate dwellings and a new buyer purchase both units they will be considered as two transactions by the inland revenue and the second unit may be subject to the 15% stamp duty.
- similarly, if the owner wishes to sell one of the combined units in the future, the owner will have to appoint an authorized person to reinstate alterations made to the premises and submit the building plan for Buildings Department’s approval prior to entering into a binding contract to sell.
- lastly, any mortgages or bank loans that may be held for the combined units may require to be paid off prior to selling one of the units if sold seperately.
More information can be found on this government web site.