Internal alterations to Edinburgh tenement flats


Have you recently purchased a Tenement flat in Edinburgh or have lived there for a while and are thinking of making some internal alterations to your flat?


You don’t know how to get started or who you should speak to first


This article explains in detail how to get started with this and lays out the exact process that we follow for this type of project.

Over the years we have found the same type of projects come up again and again.

Typically a tenement flat will have a generous lounge with a boxroom in the middle of the flat and a kitchen or bedroom towards the back.

They can have 1, 2, or 3 bedrooms


Here are a few real-life examples of Edinburgh tenement flats that I have recently worked on:


Main door tenement flat located in Bruntsfield:

Edinburgh Tenement alterations

Edinburgh Tenement alterations

This flat had a kitchen within the boxroom and the client wanted to relocate the kitchen into the back bedroom.

This meant that the kitchen would be much larger than the existing kitchen with room for dining and entertaining & allowing natural light to flood into the kitchen.

The kitchen now has a connection to the outside space.


The flat now has 2 generous bedrooms & Boxroom which is a handy space for a home study or room to put up the occasional guest.


Speak to us about your Internal Alterations today!


3rd Floor traditional tenement flat located on Lauderdale Street

Removing a load bearing wall Edinburgh

This flat had a tiny kitchen, basically, a scullery located at the back of the flat, off of the dining room.

There were 2 bedrooms and a box room located between the lounge and dining room.


The boxroom has been opened up to the lounge creating a massive open-plan kitchen/family/dining space – simply stunning.

The existing dining room has now become the master bedroom complete with en-suite.


A great result & Really good use of the floor space & no doubt this has added value to the property.


Main door tenement flat located in Morningside

Architect Edinburgh

This project had a small impractical kitchen located at the rear of the flat, (of the dining room)


The dining room has now become the kitchen with a new structural slapping, the existing dining room window is now a double-glazed door to connect the flat directly to the outside space.


There is now a really useful utility space located directly off the kitchen (the old kitchen has become the utility space.

A second-floor tenement flat located in Bruntsfield

Removing a load bearing wall in an edinburgh tenement falt

This was a 3 bedroom flat with a small kitchen.


The existing kitchen was relocated to a larger bedroom at the rear of the flat, and the boxroom and cupboards were opened up to create a fantastic kitchen/dining space complete with an island.


An en-suite was added to a rear bedroom to form a lovely master suite.

The existing kitchen is now bedroom 3.


No question that this is a great result for the client.


If you would like to discuss your Tenement flat alteration project

Email me directly

OR call me on 07885 357582


Get in touch now!


The process for carrying out internal alterations to an Edinburgh tenement flat


Here is the short version of this:

  • Initial feasibility phone or zoom call to discuss fees etc with the Architect
  • The architect visits the property to carry out a survey of the property
  • Design drawings are produced
  • The design is refined until you (the client) are satisfied with the new layout
  • The structural engineer visits the site (if there are any structural changes)
  • The Architect prepares technical drawings 
  • The structural engineer prepares structural plans
  • The Architect submits the building warrant application.
  • Building warrant approved
  • Building contractors price job
  • Appoint a building contractor
  • Work starts on-site!


Sounds simple..right!

Over the last 10 years, we have carried out dozens of this type of project.

We want to reassure you that if you follow the tried and tested process then it’s straightforward!


Generally, this type of internal renovation project does not require planning approval, except when it is a listed building.

You can search here to find out if your property is a listed building.


The planners are looking to preserve or reinstate original features within listed buildings.

Think decorative cornices, fireplaces, etc.


This is also a handy guide produced by the City of Edinburgh Council if you happen to own a listed building.


Irrespective of the planning status all internal alteration projects to Edinburgh tenement flats require a Building warrant.


Let’s dive into the 12-step process that we follow for a tenement refurbishment project.

It’s a linear process that’s tried and tested.




Step 1 – Discuss Project Feasibility

After we have received an initial inquiry We arrange an initial conversation with the client to establish the feasibility of the project. 

This could be a phone call or a zoom call.

The client and Architect discuss the project in detail. 

We explain the process and workflow and outline what permissions are required. 


We send you (the client) an email on the back of the call to further outline the fees and timescales etc.

If you decide to proceed on this basis the next step is to arrange a site survey/meeting with the client.


Step 2 – Property survey

The architect arrives on site and generally spends some time ‘touring’ the property to get a feel for the flat.

We also spend time to discuss the brief in detail with the client.

If existing floorplans are available that can be helpful.

A measured survey is carried out, we also photograph the property and take a short video.

This usually takes between 1-2 hrs to complete.


Steps 3 & 4 – design drawings produced and refined

Initial design drawings are produced, and this process goes back and forth between the architect and you.

The design is refined until you (the client) are satisfied with the new layout.

Once the design is finalized we can move on to step 5


Step 5 – Structural Engineer

A structural engineer is required for almost all tenement flat alterations.

We obtain a fee quote on your behalf from a trusted structural engineer.

Now that the design and layout have been agreed the engineer will visit your property to carry out a survey and to establish what walls are load-bearing etc.


Step 6 – Architect technical drawings

The architect will continue to develop the design drawings to a standard that is suitable for a building warrant application, adding all of the appropriate details to show compliance with current building regulations. The architect then shares their CAD file with the structural engineer.


Step 7 – Structural engineer Design/drawings

Once the structural engineer is in receipt of the CAD file they will begin working on the structural design.

The structural engineer’s role is to ensure that the architect’s design is structurally sound.

The engineer provides the architect with comment issue drawings (if the architect has any comment to offer this is the opportunity to do this)

If there is no comment then the structural engineer will issue the building warrant drawings and SER certificate to the architect


Step 8 – Architect submits building warrant application

The architect will collate all of the relevant documents and submit these as part of the building warrant application.

The architect will liaise with Edinburgh building standards throughout the process up until the building warrant has been approved


Step 9 – Building warrant approved


Your building warrant has been approved.

You are now free to start work.

Your architect will receive a stamped-approved file from the city of Edinburgh council that contains all of the approved documents.

They will send this over to you in PDF format along with arranging for large format paper copies to be delivered to your home address.

We can also arrange to have a call to explain how all of this works and where you go from here.


Step 10 – Building contractor’s price work

You can now invite building contractors to price the project.

Be sure to furnish them with the approved drawings.

Aim for 2 or 3 quotes.

We can provide a list of contractors to our clients if required.


Step 11 – Appoint a building contractor

Once you have a few prices back you will be in a position to appoint a building contractor.

Try to assess the prices on a like-for like basis.

It can be difficult to do this sometimes as most of the contractors have different pricing methods.

Make sure that you have a contract in place between you and the contractor.

This is something that we can help you with.


Step 12 – Work starts on site


This is when the fun not really:)

It can be challenging living in a tenement flat with work going on but usually, these projects are done and dusted fairly quickly.

If you hire a main contractor they will act as project manager, organizing trades and keeping you updated as work progresses.


So there you have it, a bulletproof process to get you through your Edinburgh tenement alteration project.


One last point.


Ensure the contractor keeps building standards updated as the project progresses.

If the contractor is not going to do this make sure that you do this, submitting photos and notifying them at the required stages etc.

Once work is completed you will arrange a completion visit.


This can be an actual visit or a facetime inspection from the building standards officer.

Once the inspection is completed and all of the work has been carried out in accordance with the approved plans the completion certificate will be issued.


We should have really added in step 13 – sit back and enjoy


If you would like to discuss your Tenement flat alteration project

Email me directly

OR call me on 07885 357582