Buying a house with an unapproved loft conversion?

Buying a house with an unapproved loft conversion?

15:28 PM, 29th July 2021, About 2 years ago 19

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I have reached sale agreed for a semi-detached house and am in the mortgage application phase of the purchase. The house has a converted loft space for storage, with a fixed staircase leading up to the loft.

The conversion does not have approval from the local authority. This was made clear to us before the sale by the estate agent, who indicated it would not be a problem as it is only used for extra storage space and not advertised as an extra bedroom.

The valuation survey done by our bank showed this up and stated ‘Conveyancer should confirm that all statutory and local authority approvals have been obtained for attic conversion for storage purposes with fixed staircase and Velux window.’

I discussed this with our conveyancer, and he indicated that if the conversion was done within the last 10 years (which it has) the bank will require retrospective planning approval before the funds can be issued. What I want to know is there anyone who has been in the same position, and what way did it turn out because it seems to me like if there is no planning granted then the bank will not provide the finance?

Again we knew there was no planning permission and are happy to purchase the house without it (we were told by the estate agent it would not be a problem because it is not advertised as an extra bedroom) but obviously the bank and conveyancer look at it differently.

Many thanks


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Dylan Morris

10:10 AM, 30th July 2021, About 2 years ago

Firstly speak to your lender’s underwriters and see what their view is. If the loft area has simply been valued as loft space and not extra bedroom facilities I doubt the underwriters would have a problem and require building regs. If valuation includes the area as a bedroom then have the surveyor revise his valuation figure to loft space only. If you have a good deposit and hence sufficient loan to value, the reduction in value should not be a problem for the lender.

Simon M

11:38 AM, 30th July 2021, About 2 years ago

Don't be misled by the estate agent who has a reason to downplay the use of the room - they get paid on sale. The property's value is the price someone will pay on the open market, not whether a room was advertised as a bedroom. How the price compares with an equivalent property in the local market should tell you if it's a fair price, or you'd be overpaying.

Planning and Building Control will look at it on it's own merits, eg if the owner has put in windows, met all building regulations etc. You could ring them - it can be difficult to get through but from experience I've found they will give helpful guidance over the phone.

You haven't mentioned indemnity insurance. A lot depends on whether the surveyor has valued the property based on the extra room, but conveyancers can obtain indemnity insurance for many issues including planning & building control. Usually relatively cheap. That could resolve the planning side, but not the value for mortgage purposes.


14:00 PM, 30th July 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Simon M at 30/07/2021 - 11:38
Worth checking if Planning approval is needed, or whether the latest Permitted Development rules could be used to cover it retrospectively. I've just completed a large loft conversion and rear extension, all under PD. Regardless, Building Control is needed, and Indemnity Insurance is usually an answer for a buyer (I did it for my last sale). But I'm not sure if your lender would accept Indemnity Insurance.


20:47 PM, 30th July 2021, About 2 years ago

The vendor is misleading you. Who would put in 3 fancy vellum openable windows for a storage room. and a proper staircase. perhaps its PD but it changes the outside appearance of the building so unless PD it needs permission. That said if it was done more than 4 years ago and vendor can prove this ( not ten) then you could go for retrospective PP.

So as its just storage there is just one light up there. What about power points and who installed the wiring.

I wonder what else vendor has done not to code

The agent is under. duty now to tell other buyers of the issue and not try to fluff around the issue.

Storage or otherwise it needed building regulations and as there is external alterations PP ( that's the minor part)

There is one other major important issue. What about building regulations. Ceiling joists aren't usually strong enough. There is fire rating issues and escape issues including height of windows. True Building code breaches aren't enforceable after 1 year ( stupid ) but you have the issue of it falling down( unlikely ) and safety.

St. Jims

11:25 AM, 31st July 2021, About 2 years ago

Before putting it on the market, your seller should have obtained a certificate of regularisation, which is where the council visit an illegally converted property and retrospectively approve it (it's slightly different form retrospective planning permission, and may or may not take longer ot obtain, depending on how busy your council housing department is).

Typically, a dodgy loft conversion will be ratified by the council as being fine as long as it is used for light storage only. They might ask you rip out all the plugs, radiators, carpets etc - anything that would make that room a proper dwelling

Go back to the vendor with the truth: the illegal modifications effectively mean that the house can only be sold to a cash buyer. Your only options are to pay cash (possibly at a discount to the agreed price) or pay the higher rates for a specialist lender who will lend against the sorry mess that your vendor has landed you in. Sorry I can't be more positive than that.

It sounds like the vendor has not done enough to prepare this house for sale. There is always another house - good luck.

Paul Shears

11:42 AM, 31st July 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by blair at 30/07/2021 - 20:47
"Building code breaches aren't enforceable after 1 year"
I can't find the source of this on a government web site. Can you provide one please?
Many thanks.


16:39 PM, 31st July 2021, About 2 years ago

From bitter experience I can confirm that loft conversions do need Building Regs consent even if only used for storage. Also, had tenant who moved another adult into house and put the attic to use as a bedroom despite tenancy agreement saying not to. New person then reported me to the council for saying I was letting out accommodation that was not up to standard! Won't bore you with whole sorry (and expensive) story, but very strongly advise you not to buy this property! Sorry


20:48 PM, 31st July 2021, About 2 years ago

Paul. No I don't know where you will find it but I have found inspectors don't pursue old breaches.

On planning its 4 years if it is already residential- 10 if its say a change to residential. The lw states 5 but enforcement at brent say in reality its just 4.

Paul Shears

20:51 PM, 31st July 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by blair at 31/07/2021 - 20:48
OK, thanks.


15:11 PM, 1st August 2021, About 2 years ago

Hi folks,

I have almost the same issue. I am going to buy a 4 bedroom terraced house where two rooms are in Dormer.I checked the status on the council website and found this data, i think it proves in my case that exended kithcen and Dormer Rooms are properly validated from planning permission of the council. Please confirm , am i right to understand.

Construction of single storey extension to rear of property to provide ground floor bathroom facilities for use by disabled person
Bradford West Yorkshire BD5 9ND
Ref. No: 03/04784/FUL | Validated: Tue 25 Nov 2003 | Status: Granted

Construction of a dormer window and kitchen extension
Bradford West Yorkshire BD5 9ND
Ref. No: 89/075845/FUL | Validated: Thu 30 Nov 1989 | Status: Granted

Kitchen extension to property
Bradford West Yorkshire BD5 9ND
Ref. No: 87/078545/FUL | Validated: Thu 23 Apr 1987 | Status: Pending Consideration

Kitchen extension to property
Bradford West Yorkshire BD5 9ND
Ref. No: 87/85289/FUL | Validated: Wed 21 Jan 1987 | Status: Pending Consideration


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