No building regs – better solution than the council?

by Readers Question

9:39 AM, 4th October 2014
About 4 years ago

No building regs – better solution than the council?

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No building regs – better solution than the council?

I am in the process of buying a ground floor/basement floor flat off a vendor that had bought the property at auction as a single dwelling & turned into 2 flats over the process of a few years. I have subsequently discovered that she (the vendor) obtained retrospective planning permission but never got any building regs sign off. I am a prospective landlord that would only rent out the property with the necessary building regs. The vendor is unwilling to approach the council (alarm bells!) claiming that it will take her too long to go through the bureaucracy. No building regs - better solution than the council?

I am confident I can negotiate a discount given the lack of liquidity this property will have in the absence of building regs (zero chance of anyone getting a mortgage on it) but I am trying to get a sense of what I might be getting myself into. Worst case scenario (as I see it) is that I buy it and there are tanking issues with the basement, problems with soundproofing, no control over the flat above if for example the floors needed to be ripped up, to name just a few.

In light of this I rang a couple of private building reg companies to ask if they would accompany me on a visit to the flat to give me a better sense of the works that need to be done in order to be building reg compliant (I was happy to pay them). They all claimed that on legacy works it was only the council that could opine. I spoke to the council earlier this week and they were as usual shockingly unhelpful ….“er basically we cant help you until its your problem and you own it, cant help you until after that, if I was you I would stay well clear.”

Maybe they are right but all I am trying to do is get a more educated understanding of what this might cost to bring in line with building reg compliance.

Maybe the best decision is to just walk away, but what I would much prefer to do is get a better sense of my max downside so I can better weigh up the deal

If anyone has any better ideas/advice than the council it would be well received.

Thanks

Jerry



Comments

Monty Bodkin

10:18 AM, 4th October 2014
About 4 years ago

Hello Jerry,

Planning permission and building regulation indemnity insurance.
A big retainer.
A lengthy paid consultation with a long trusted legal expert.

I'd walk away though, property deals are like buses, they'll be another one along soon.

Jerry Maguire

21:41 PM, 5th October 2014
About 4 years ago

I have spoken to a number of building reg indemnity insurance providers & none of them are willing to offer insurance in this instance. Such a frustrating position to be in. Perhaps you're right..wait for the next bus

Renovate To let

8:47 AM, 6th October 2014
About 4 years ago

Indemnity insurance covers against enforcement but not health and safety issues, build quality etc nor does it suddenly make the building insurable re tenant injury if they were hurt in a fire or on inadequate stairs. Equally, you might find the basement leaks each winter - indemnity insurance wouldn't cover that.

I would also want 100% clarity regarding the freeholder and permissions to do the work from the freeholder being in place.

Joe Bloggs

10:38 AM, 7th October 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Renovate To let" at "06/10/2014 - 08:47":

good points. insurance is pretty pointless in this (and most) situations and it annoys me that solicitors think it is a panacea (but then they prob make a commission). the council cant wash their hands of this...you can go down the road of the regularisation procedure, but this will involve major costs and disruption to expose all the hidden parts such as drainage etc etc. building regs are quite onerous for conversions i.e. with fire precautions, thermal insulation and so i would expect a massive discount for all the hassle and unknowns.


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