An expert guide to extensions and improvements
11th March 2016
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When it comes to selling a property, both the purchaser and any lender needs assurance that works carried out have been completed according to existing regulations.

There are four main categories:

  1. Planning permission
  2. Building Regulations approval
  3. Restrictions in the property deeds
  4. Party Walls

– whilst works may fall within “permitted” development exemptions i.e. small extensions, check whether the General Permitted Development Order actually applies. The Local Authority can curtail these rights in certain cases/areas, or permitted rights may have been removed by an earlier planning approval for the property. It is never safe to assume. The best advice is to check with your local planning office and if the works are permitted ask them to confirm this in writing. If needed, obtain planning consent.

Note that if any part of a proposal involves a change of “use” then advice and approval should be sought for that aspect as well.

Building Regulations – the most common exempt structure is a conservatory but not all are exempt – it depends on size and other factors - particularly if the patio doors/windows are being removed to make an open plan living space where regulations are needed. Extensions, conversions of garages and lofts all require approval as do the relocation of toilets or other sanitary fittings. Conversions involving the creation of habitable spaces and amongst other aspects, insulation is a major factor. The Building Control inspector will usually inspect the works during and at the end. The proof of compliance for any solicitor will be a Completion Certificate issued by the inspector. For matters such as windows (i.e. FENSA, CERTASS), gas (GAS SAFE) and electrical works (NICEIC, ELECSA, NAPIT) the installer should be registered and issue the governing body final certificate.

Restrictions in Deeds – it is very common to have a restriction (a restrictive covenant) within the deeds which regulates use and building works. The most common is the requirement to obtain the consent to any extension/building from the original developer or land owner of neighbouring land. In 99% of the cases I have encountered, home owners have forgotten or not appreciated the need to comply with such a requirement. Depending on the age of the works, sellers end up having to unexpectedly pay for a legal indemnity insurance policy.

Party Walls - anyone who carries out certain works to a party wall must, by law, first notify adjoining owners.

These include:

  • Works to an existing party fence wall or party structure, including rebuilding a wall to a reduced height;
  • Building a new party wall or a wall adjacent to its side of the boundary; or
  • Building within three or six metres of the adjoining owner’s walls or buildings if the works involve excavation works.

This is a detailed area covered by Party Walls Act 1996 and more details are on TWM Solicitor's website.

For more information, please contact TWM Solicitors by clicking here or calling 020 8946 6454.

About the Author

Andrew M

Member since: 10th July 2012

The Best of Wimbledon and Merton helps to bring all the best local information to all local residents and businesses throughout Wimbledon and Merton. We also bring trusted businesses and the community...

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