With all the uncertainty in the property market at the moment, rather than moving home, you may have decided it’s better to stay where you are and renovate or expand your current property to suit your needs. This can be a great way to help add value to your home and may also mean it’s more saleable in the future, when the market goes back to normal.
However, it’s really important to make sure you stick to the many rules of renovating, including securing certificates for the work you do, which will be requested when you come to sell the property.
Here are 5 key things to know about before you make a start on any works:
#1 Planning Permission and Permitted Development Rights
If you’re looking to add extra space to your property, you could be required to submit a planning application, but you may be able to extend under ‘permitted development rights’. If you have an architect, they should be able to advise you which of these applies, or you could find out by booking an appointment with the planning department of your local authority. The latter is a great way to secure permission, especially if you have their advice in writing, as it proves you followed the correct ‘rules and procedures’ prior to extending your home.
For more help and advice on planning permission and permitted development rights, visit https://www.planningportal.co.uk/
#2 Building Control
Once you have planning permission for an extension - or if you’re doing other renovations – you must secure the relevant Building Control approval and certificates. If you don’t, this could hold up a sale in the future or may result in your buyer pulling out of the deal halfway through, collapsing your moving plans. You could even be fined and made to pay for any faulty work to be fixed.
Here are some examples of when Building Control is required:
#3 Certificate of Lawfulness
These are used to help ensure use of existing land or a proposed building is lawful and you may be surprised at the number of rules around creating something as relatively straightforward as a driveway. For example:
“You will not need planning permission if a new or replacement driveway of any size uses permeable (or porous) surfacing which allows water to drain through, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally.”
“If the surface to be covered is more than five square metres, planning permission will be needed for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not provide for the water to run to a permeable area.”
And even if you want to do something as simple as dropping a kerb, this can cost quite a bit of money as it requires Local Authority approval as well as using a specialist to carry out the works. Approval usually costs somewhere between £190 and £400, and may even be as high as £800, depending on your local authority.
Critically, the devil is always in the detail and even your builder or local expert may not know the rules. But as you are the person the Local Authority will come after if they believe you didn’t seek the right approval, it’s well worth checking out for yourself whether a Certificate of Lawfulness is required for the changes you’re planning to make.
#4 Gas and Electrical Safety Certificates
These are both required for rented properties, but not necessarily for your own home. However, if you’re having any works done on gas or electrical systems, fittings and appliances, it’s vital to make sure you use suitably qualified and registered contractors.
Gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register to carry out work legally, and it’s recommended that you use an electrician registered with one of the Government-approved schemes. Their work will be insured so you’re protected if anything goes wrong, and they will issue you with any certificates that might be required should you wish to sell in the future.
Although it’s not widely known, it’s also important to have an accredited person carry out any plumbing or drainage work – someone who’s registered with WaterSafe.
#5 Any Restrictions?
If you live in a conservation area, have a listed property or there are covenants on your land and/or property, that will usually impact your ability to make changes.
Sometimes these can be quite small things, such as a requirement to keep gardens open and not permitting fences to be put up at the front of properties; or taking down trees might require the Local Authority’s approval. More major restrictions could include not being able to demolish a building, not being allowed to change internal walls, or having to adhere to particular specifications for windows and doors.
Covenants can also restrict the use of your property, such as not allowing you to run a business from your home or preventing you from parking a caravan or even a tradesman’s van outside your home.
So, when you’re thinking about carrying out any kind of work on your home or land, do make sure you know (a) what you can do without having to seek approval, (b) what you will need approval for and (c) the costs involved and how long the whole process might take.
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