Home Improvements Without Planning Consent Can Reduce Property Values

Ensure alterations have planning permission

Home improvements without planning permission can adversely impact on house values

Planning permission needs granting for some property alterations. Buying a house is fraught with potential for nasty surprises, and one particular surprise is the addition of extensions and home improvements not given official planning permission that can have an adverse impact on property prices. A conveyancer has a duty to check that all the required planning permissions are in place before a sale completes, ignorance is not a defence for house buyers. If you’re trying to sell a home online without the necessary planning permission, you will probably find that the house valuation process uncovers the truth – and the effects can be quite staggering. Therefore it is important when considering home improvement ideas or projects that you check if planning consent is required or not.

Home Improvements needing planning permission and how it relates to house prices

Local authorities are usually responsible for granting planning permission. A range of renovations and extensions need planning consent, including the increase of the floor area of property or the building of a new structure. If you’re planning home improvements or minor alterations, 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.

To protect the sale value of your home, it pays to be in possession of 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 certain criteria

It is worth pointing out, however, that these permissions are only valid if the new structures do not rise higher than the original building. A full breakdown of the rules and regulations governing planning permission in the UK is on the government’s planning website; although 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, and 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 rectification of an illegal build. After four years, a homeowner does not have to comply with any enforcement action. Illegal home improvements have the potential to stop house sales in their tracks, and even if you manage to sell your home without acquiring the necessary planning permissions, the new owner may be entitled to sue you to recover the added cost of complying with planning rules. To protect the value of your home, seeking expert advice on planning before work commences is a necessity.

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 breached. Instead of the allowed 3,121 square feet, their property extended to 4,843 square feet. 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, and that can profoundly affect a subsequent property valuation. However, by carefully scrutinising planning rules and the subsequent work that takes place, both buyers and sellers can protect their financial interests.