16 April 2015

Altered your house? Did you think about building regulation consent?

You altered your house and knew your alteration did not require planning permission however did you think about building regulation consent?

What can I do I hear you say? Well first of all don’t panic. Although not ideal it’s not the end of the world as most people check on whether there alteration or addition requires planning permission but building regulation consent gets forgotten.

The options available are:-

* Do nothing. This however exposes you to various consequences. If the offending works lead you to put in a home insurance claim, the insurance company may refuse to pay out if they do not have appropriate Council consent. Doing nothing puts you at danger due to the potential bad build quality of the works. It also exposes you to discovery by the Council resulting in official (and possible costs) intervention. There are of course time limitations to enforcement proceedings however when you come to sell the property it would be easier and cheaper for you if this information was supplied prior to your purchase. Of course if there is a lender involved we would strongly recommend insurance is taken out.

* Apply to the Council for retrospective consent. This will take time, though each Council varies, and some are willing to inspect quickly and provide a letter confirming that from their limited inspection, they look like they comply and they do not intend to take any action. There could also be a fee involved. However this does not address the 100% certainty of the build quality.

* The most common avenue is for the conveyancing solicitor to invariably offer to take out at their client’s expense, a very cheap one-off indemnity insurance for lack of building control consent. This policy only deals with enforcement action by the Council, they do not address the question whether the offending works were carried out to a high build standard and so do nothing to remedy the works if they present a danger to health and safety.

If you are not concerned with the build quality, only Council consent, then it also needs to be realised that each insurer – as many companies offer these policies – all have varying strict qualifications for the valid acceptance of a policy. This is why we strongly recommend a full
structural survey to any proposed purchaser.

It’s a common occurrence for everyday conveyancers to iron out this problem so that you property transaction can proceed smoothly and efficiently. There is of course the further point to check on whether any restrictive covenants on the property that conflict with the present structure and to be on the safe side before you make any alterations or additions always check the deeds which would clarify the position.

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About the Author
Kate Potter, Associate (Chartered Legal Executive)
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Kate Potter is a Hereford solicitor, specialising in real estate.

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