Connect with us

Real Estate

A house we want to buy was extended without planning permission



We went to view a house for sale that seemed to offer lots of potential as someone had done the building work for an extension and not finished off the inside, but we then discovered it had no planning permission.

The estate agent advertised it as having been extended over time but work was incomplete – and it appears to be a bungalow that has been converted to a two-storey chalet house.

When we went to look at it and asked some questions, it turned out that the current owner had done the work without planning permission or building regulations approval.

The home this reader is considering buying used to be a bungalow, but has been extended to two storeys without planning permission (stock image)

The home this reader is considering buying used to be a bungalow, but has been extended to two storeys without planning permission (stock image)

We’ve looked into this and discovered that planning permission may be possible retrospectively, as it seems work that is more than four years old could get a certificate of lawfulness, but if work is deemed unsafe due to building regulations there is no time limit.

Where would a purchaser of such a property stand on planning permission and building regulations and what would be the risks and worst case scenario?

The property seems priced too high for the situation, but if we could negotiate enough money off we are thinking this might be an opportunity. LS 

Helen Crane, of This is Money, replies: Taking on such an ambitious renovation project without getting the proper approvals was a bold move from the current owner of this house. 

Not only could the extension potentially be poorly constructed or unsafe, but the local council could force them to take it down again if it was deemed to contravene regulations. 

With the work left unfinished, you have the opportunity to complete the project yourself and hopefully add some value in the process. 

But understandably, that could backfire and end up being very expensive and you are keen to ensure everything is above board before you commit to buying the house and resuming the renovations. 

The good news is that there are several different avenues that you can take in order to get the green light from the local council. 

However, how laborious this process will be – and the costs involved – depend on when and how the work was carried out.  

The best case scenario is that the work comes under something called permitted development rights, which would mean it never required planning permission in the first place. 

On the other end of the scale, you may need to apply for planning permission and then have it refused. This would make you responsible for restoring the property back to how it was before the second storey was built. 

If the extension does stay, you will also need to make sure it is in line with building regulations. And this is a very important element that shouldn’t be overlooked.

I asked architect Tamsin Bryant, who has worked on many home extensions, to explain the rules in more detail. I also spoke to mortgage broker Mark Harris and solicitor 

Check the rules: Home owners should ensure an extension is in line with their local authority's planning guidelines before they start the work

Check the rules: Home owners should ensure an extension is in line with their local authority’s planning guidelines before they start the work

Tamsin Bryant of architects Adams & Collingwood replies: When it comes to planning permission, we have three key tests: what, when and how. 

Obviously every property presents different issues, so please use this list as guidance, and if in doubt contact a professional. 

What: Certain types of work can be done without needing to apply for planning permission. These are called ‘permitted development rights’. 

Check if the works involved in your property can be applied under permitted development rights. These are detailed in The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. 

Bear in mind that the permitted development rights which apply to many common projects for houses do not apply to flats, maisonettes or listed buildings.  

Architect Tamsin Bryant says that finding out when the extension was built will be key

Architect Tamsin Bryant says that finding out when the extension was built will be key 

If the property is listed, it is a criminal offence not to seek consent when it is required. If this is the case, be sure to be thorough and obtain the relevant consents prior to your ownership. 

Not knowing a building is listed is not a defence to any criminal proceedings. This makes it very important that any doubt is investigated and discussed with the local planning authority. 

When: If the work that has been done does not fall under permitted development rules, the next thing to consider is when the extension was built. 

If the work was done more than four years ago, you can make a formal application to your local authority for a certificate to determine whether your unauthorised development can become lawful through the passage of time, rather than through compliance with space standards. 

This would mean you could continue without the need for planning permission.

If it’s been less than four years, or if the application for the certificate is declined, this would mean applying for full planning permission. 

This will cost you in consultant fees and application fees, and the extension may also invalidate your insurance. 

As the previous owner technically broke the rules, it wouldn’t be fair for you to pay the price for it. This may be a bargaining chip to negotiate a lower price. 

How: You can apply for a retrospective planning application for the work that has been carried out. 

Although a local authority may ask for a planning application to be submitted, it does not mean that planning permission will automatically be granted. The application will be treated in the usual way. 

If the retrospective application is refused, the local authority can issue an enforcement notice which requires you to put things back as they were. 

If it is a complex case, you may ask the seller to apply for this retrospective application prior to your purchase, or negotiate a purchase subject to retrospective planning consent. 

All building work must comply with building regulations. These are minimum standards for design, construction and alterations which are set by the Government

All building work must comply with building regulations. These are minimum standards for design, construction and alterations which are set by the Government

Building regulations: As well as ensuring the extension is in line with planning rules, you also need to make sure it meets building regulations. 

There are minimum standards for design, construction and alterations which are set by the Government. 

If the previous owner doesn’t have the relevant completion certificates, you can apply for ‘regularisation’ or retrospective approval. 

This involves a local council building control surveyor visiting the site and assessing the work to see if it’s up to standard. 

If not, they will recommend improvements to bring it up to standard so they can issue the appropriate certificates.  

There is also a time limit on the repercussions that can come about from contravening building regulations. 

After two years, contravening building works gain established use. Therefore prosecution is possible up to two years after the completion of the offending work. 

However, within the first 12 months from the date of completion, the local authority may serve an enforcement notice on the building owner requiring alteration or removal of work which contravenes the regulations. 

If the owner does not comply with the notice, the local authority has the power to undertake the work itself and recover the costs of doing so from the owner. 

Will the extension cause mortgage problems and do I need indemnity insurance?    

Mortgage broker Mark Harris says lenders should accept indemnity insurance as a protection against legal action resulting from a non-permitted extension

Mortgage broker Mark Harris says lenders should accept indemnity insurance as a protection against legal action resulting from a non-permitted extension

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, replies: There could be an issue with getting a mortgage depending on what work has been done, when it was done and what action has been taken.

Do the works fall under permitted development? If the work was completed more than four years ago and no enforcement action has been taken, then the right to do so may have been lost. If within the four years, retrospective planning may still be obtained.

During the process of selling a home, the vendor’s solicitor will have to complete a form declaring any works and consents. The liability will pass to the new owner but the purchaser’s own solicitor should highlight this.

A common way to address the absence of the necessary consents is to obtain indemnity insurance. This is accepted by most mortgage lenders and should cover the cost of any considerations resulting from any potential action brought.

Lucy Barber, partner and head of residential property at law firm Forsters replies: If you are buying a property which has had work done more than 4 years ago without planning permission, there are usually 3 options. You can apply for retrospective planning permission, you can apply for a certificate of lawful use, or you can purchase indemnity insurance. 

The indemnity insurance would cover the costs or loss of value to the market value to the property, if the local authority ever sought to take issue with the work being done without planning permission. 

Most indemnity insurance providers will require that at least 12 months should have passed since the completion of the works and that there has been no enforcement action taken by the local authority in order to insure. 

Most lenders will also accept indemnity insurance in these circumstances as well. To apply for a certificate of lawful use you should obtain a statutory declaration from the seller confirming when the works were done and verifying the use of the property from that date.

For works done without building regulation approval, you can either seek to obtain this retrospectively or obtain indemnity insurance again.

In both cases the indemnity insurance would likely be invalidated if approaches were made to the council. So, if you are thinking of doing further works which require planning permission or building regulation approval, this is worth bearing in mind. 

That said if you do so once the enforcement period (4 years for planning permission and 12 months for building regulations) of the local authority has passed, the local authority will not be able to take any enforcement action anyway. 

With regard to the health and safety issue for works done without building regulation approval, you would be best advised to obtain a structural survey to ensure that the works done to the property are structurally sound. 

Helen Crane of This is Money adds: There are plenty of things to consider before going ahead with this house purchase. 

At the very least, you will want the current owner to give you more information on the extension so you can work out whether it might come under permitted development rights or be eligible for a lawfulness certificate.

If you believe a full retrospective planning permission is needed, you could ask the owner to apply for it as a condition of the sale. 

As any other potential buyer is likely to ask the same questions you are, they may agree in order to get the home sold. However, going through the planning process could take months. 

The other option is to make a substantially reduced offer for the home, with the knowledge that you will need to apply for planning permission yourself.  

You would need to compensate yourself not only for the fees associated, but for your time, your trouble, and ultimately the potential need to get rid of the extension in future. 

If you do decide to go ahead with the purchase, taking out indemnity insurance could be a wise move – but only if you don’t plan to apply for any planning permission. 

This would protect you financially if the local authority takes any action against you – but approaching the council for planning permission would invalidate it. 

All of this could be a lengthy and stressful process, so only you can decide whether this home is worth it.  

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

Source link

Real Estate

Higgins raises concerns over volume of legislation received in recent weeks



Two Oireachtas committees are being convened at short notice to consider concerns raised by President Michael D. Higgins at the volume of legislation sent to his office in recent weeks.

In a letter to the Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and the Department of the Taoiseach, Mr Higgins said an “overwhelming number of Bills” were presented for his consideration in the final two weeks before the Christmas and summer recesses.

“For example, in the three weeks since the beginning of July I have been asked to consider 19 separate Bills. Nine were presented on the one day, sharing a requirement to be considered and signed in the same seven-day period,” he wrote, pointing out that in the entire preceding six months, he was presented with 13 Bills for consideration.

Last year, 21 of the total of 32 Bills presented to him were sent in the weeks approaching summer and Christmas recesses.

“It would strike me, as President and from my years as a parliamentarian, that there must be a more orderly approach to arranging the legislative timetable that allows all legislators the time to consider and contribute to proposals before the Oireachtas without unnecessary time constraints and an unseemly end-of-term haste to have Bills concluded,” the President wrote.

“Having this vital work concentrated into four weeks of the year strikes me as being less than ideal and, I believe, unnecessary.”

Mr Higgins noted that little time was being given over in the Oireachtas to debate often “very important and far-reaching legislative proposals”.

He said the process has “been curtailed through the imposition of restrictions on time in one or both Houses”.

He said amendments put down by Oireachtas members were often not discussed, and those proposed by the Government were at times “carried without an opportunity for scrutiny or debate”.

The President noted an “unseemly end-of-term haste”to pass legislation and said a “real prospect” of having to convene the Council of State in the days after Christmas day to consider Bills had arisen more than once.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl, the Ceann Comhairle, told The Irish Times that the Dáil’s Business Committee and the Seanad’s Committee on Procedures would meet on Friday to consider the letter, and actions open to the Oireachtas to consider.

There have been renewed concerns during the lifetime of this Dáil about the use of the guillotine to force Government legislation through without extensive oversight, with several heavyweight pieces of legislation passed in a matter of days before the Oireachtas rose for its summer break earlier this month.

Source link

Continue Reading

Real Estate

Who do I need to notify if I move home?



Moving house is frequently said to be one of the most stressful things anyone can do.

The massive investment both financially and emotionally can take its toll, especially if the process takes months to complete.

It is why anything that helps to elevate some of the stress along the way can be hugely beneficial. This includes addressing some of the practicalities in advance, and having a list of who to notify when you move can help. 

We look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home

We look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home

Dozens of companies will need to know your new address, whether this is an insurer who may use them to help calculate your insurance premiums or a retailer who need to know where to send the clothing you ordered online.

Without updating them, you may endure a bigger headache from moving home than you had anticipated.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, said: ‘When moving home, it is vital to plan ahead. Moving day can come upon you very quickly, particularly if there is a short time between exchange and completion.

‘Buildings insurance is the most important thing that needs arranging on your new property as soon as you have exchanged contracts.

‘Confirm your moving date with your removals firm and make a list of who needs notifying about your impending change of address – the electoral roll, the DVLA, Amazon and other delivery firms, particularly supermarket deliveries. The last thing you want is for your orders to turn up at your ‘old’ address once you have moved.

‘Don’t forget to change your council tax, while utility providers will also need informing, and given final meter readings. The more you plan ahead, the smoother the process will be.’ 

A checklist for who to notify when you change address can help to elevate some of the stress of moving home

A checklist for who to notify when you change address can help to elevate some of the stress of moving home

Tom Parker, of property website Zoopla, agreed: ‘Moving home can be overwhelming with so much to do. When it comes to notifying organisations, it’s best to divide it into digestible categories like work, household and vehicle.

‘Notifying your employer is a top priority, especially if your payslips are sent to your home. If you own a vehicle, ensure you update your driving licence, insurance providers and vehicle logbook.  

‘Make sure you also notify organisations like your broadband, utilities, insurance providers and council tax. Finally, don’t forget the small things like magazine subscriptions and store cards.’

Here we look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home.


Perhaps one of the most important and probably most overlooked places that need to be notified of your change of address is HMRC, which needs to know for tax purposes.  

Similarly, your employer needs to know when you change address for your payroll, so that it can update your contact details.

In addition, your National Insurance number helps the Government to identify you and is used by the organisations such as the DVLA and HMRC, so this will need your new address attached. 


There are various companies providing services to your household that will need to know about your move so that they can update your contact information.

In some cases, you may end up continuing to pay for a service in your former home that you are no longer using if you fail to update these companies.

They include your cable or satellite provider, your phone and broadband company. It is also important to update your TV licence contact details, which can be done up to three months before a move.


You can update DVLA via its website and within two to four weeks, you should receive an updated licence and V5C log book documents for your car. Failing to update the log book could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

You will also need to notify the supplier of your vehicle breakdown cover and your car insurer.


Most insurers take postcodes into account when calculating premiums and the cost of insurance cover, so they will need to be notified of your change of address. 

You may need to contact those insurers who provide cover for household contents, health, life, travel and your pets.


As well as your health insurer, you will also need to provide your address to other healthcare organisations.

For example, if you change doctors when you move home, you will need to let your old doctor know so that your medical information can be forwarded to your new doctor. This may similarly apply to your dentists and opticians.


Your gas, electricity and water suppliers will need your updated contact information, even if you are leaving them behind at the old property and taking on new suppliers.

It can take a couple of days for energy providers to update your information, so it is worth contacting your suppliers ahead of your move. However, you may be able to move your deal to your new property.

Make sure you take readings of your utilities on the day of your move so you can update your suppliers with these and only pay for the amounts you have used. 

Royal Mail’s redirection service may be worth considering as it forwards any post sent to your former address to your new address. You can apply for the redirection up to three months before your moving date.


There are several companies and organisations that fall into this category and will need to know your new contact address.

They include bank and building societies, your pension providers, loan companies, credit card providers and store cards. If you are on a state pension, the Government will need to know your new details.

Similarly, you will need to update your address for council tax purposes.

Others include your accountant as you don’t want important tax documents going to your old address (if you are not using the a postal redirection service). And don’t forget updating NS&I with your new address if you put money into premium bonds.

Source link

Continue Reading

Real Estate

Ireland ‘one of world’s best five places’ to survive global societal collapse



Ireland is one of the world’s five places best suited to survive a global collapse of society, according to a new study. The others are Iceland, Tasmania, the UK and, topping the list, New Zealand.

The researchers say human civilisation is “in a perilous state” because of the highly interconnected and energy-intensive society that has developed and the environmental damage this has caused.

A collapse could arise from shocks such as a severe financial crisis, the effects of the climate crisis, destruction of nature, an even worse pandemic than Covid-19 or a combination of these, the scientists says.

To assess which nations would be most resilient to such a collapse, countries were ranked according to their ability to grow food for their population, protect their borders from unwanted mass migration, and maintain an electrical grid and some manufacturing ability. Islands in temperate regions and mostly with low population densities have come out on top.

The researchers say their study highlights the factors that nations must improve to increase resilience. They say that a globalised society that prizes economic efficiency has damaged resilience, and that spare capacity needs to exist in food and other vital sectors.

Billionaires have been reported to be buying land for bunkers in New Zealand in preparation for an apocalypse. “We weren’t surprised New Zealand was on our list,” says Prof Aled Jones, at the Global Sustainability Institute, at Anglia Ruskin University, in the UK.

“We chose that you had to be able to protect borders and places had to be temperate. So with hindsight it’s quite obvious that large islands with complex societies on them already” make up the list.

The study, published in the journal Sustainability, says: “The globe-spanning, energy-intensive industrial civilisation that characterises the modern era represents an anomalous situation when it is considered against the majority of human history.”

The study also says that environmental destruction, limited resources and population growth mean civilisation “is in a perilous state, with large and growing risks developing in multiple spheres of the human endeavour”.

New Zealand was found to have the greatest potential to survive relatively unscathed due to its geothermal and hydroelectric energy, abundant agricultural land and low human population density.

Jones says major global food losses, a financial crisis and a pandemic have all happened in recent years, and “we’ve been lucky that things haven’t all happened at the same time – there’s no real reason why they can’t all happen in the same year”.

He adds: “As you start to see these events happening I get more worried, but I also hope we can learn more quickly than we have in the past that resilience is important. With everyone talking about ‘building back better’ from the pandemic, if we don’t lose that momentum I might be more optimistic than I have been in the past.”

He says the coronavirus pandemic has shown that governments can act quickly when needed. “It’s interesting how quickly we can close borders, and how quickly governments can make decisions to change things.”

But, he adds, “This drive for just-in-time, ever-more-efficient economies isn’t the thing you want to do for resilience. We need to build in some slack in the system, so that if there is a shock then you have the ability to respond because you’ve got spare capacity. We need to start thinking about resilience much more in global planning. But, obviously, the ideal thing is that a quick collapse doesn’t happen.” – Guardian

Source link

Continue Reading


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!