Home Improvements Without Planning Consent

Planning permission needs granted for some property alterations. Buying a house is fraught with the potential for nasty surprises. One particular surprise is the addition of extensions and home improvements not given official planning permission that can hurt property prices. A conveyancer must check that all the required planning permissions are in place before a sale completes. Ignorance is not a defence for house buyers. Suppose you’re trying to sell the property without the necessary planning permission. In that case, you will probably find that it’s worth less than you thought, as any surveyor will consider any changes made without the correct permissions. Therefore it is essential when considering home improvement ideas or projects to check if planning consent is required.

Home Improvements that need planning permission.

Local authorities are usually responsible for granting planning permission. A range of renovations and extensions need planning consent, including the increase of the property’s floor area or the building of a new structure. However, suppose you’re planning home improvements or minor alterations. In that case, it is unlikely you will need to apply for planning permission – unless your property is either located in a conservation area or has ‘listed’ status.

It pays to have the facts when it comes to planning permission. Fortunately, there is a range of minor building works that can take place without formal planning consent, and they include:

– The construction of a porch
The addition of a garage
– The construction of boundary walls and fences
– Change of use from a garage to a domestic room
– The building of conservatories that meet specific criteria

However, it is worth pointing out that these permissions are only valid if the new structures do not rise higher than the original building. A full breakdown of the UK’s rules and regulations governing planning permission is on the government’s planning website. However, individual local authorities have powers to determine their ‘permitted development orders’, so speaking with the council’s planning department before building work is essential.

The law allows a local authority to issue an enforcement notice to the property’s owner if the necessary planning permission is not in place. It’s your responsibility whether you were responsible for any illegal improvements or not. The legal searches carried out by a buyer’s surveyor will uncover any planning issues. Because any new owner would be liable for rectifying illegal builds, the effect planning issues have on property prices can be huge.

However, any local authority only has four years from the commencement of works to issue an enforcement notice requiring rectifying an illegal build. After four years, a homeowner does not have to comply with any enforcement action. Protect the value of your home by seeking expert advice on any planning consents that may be required before work commences.

Home Improvements Without Planning Permission Can Reduce House Values
Home Improvements Without Planning Permission Can Reduce House Values

An example of how planning permission breaches can impact UK house prices

A German couple moved into their idyllic home in the Cotswolds back in 2007. Their lawyer carried out all the usual searches, and the sale went through without a hitch. However, Angela and Gerrit Pires were left devastated when they received a letter from Cotswold District Council informing them that the terms of the planning permission agreed by the home’s previous owners did not comply. Instead of the allowed 3,121 square feet, their property extended to 4,843 square feet. As a result, not only were the couple liable for the cost of demolishing a third of their new home, but the property was also worth far less than they paid for it.

Most searches will uncover properties that have breached planning regulations, which can profoundly affect a subsequent property valuation. However, by carefully scrutinising planning rules and the subsequent work, both buyers and sellers can protect their financial interests.

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