Lack of building control sign-off for attic used as holiday let?

Lack of building control sign-off for attic used as holiday let?

9:26 AM, 1st March 2024, About 2 months ago 7

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Hi, I am meant to have exchanged this week on a property which has had the attic converted to a holiday let (1 bedroom, Kitchen, Bathroom and Sitting Room) in either 1999 or 2000.

It has been rented ever since and has separate council tax, a separate entrance and separate utilities so would count as a separate dwelling.

It has no building control sign-off. I have had a survey done but at this stage had not been told that there was no building control sign-off. The survey had no structural questions but assumed that there was sign-off. Recently a builder has looked and has questioned the strength of the floor – he felt it was weak in one area in particular.

Without drawings, he is assuming that the joists were not upgraded so would not meet today’s standards.

The fire precaution measures are:
1. There is an exterior staircase which can act as a fire escape
2. There is a fire door between the main house and the steps up to the attic.
3. There is a central fire alarm system

There is NO fire boarding between the floor of the attic and the ceiling of the let. There are no drawings so no information about insulation, stability of the roof, or roof ventilation etc.

Downstairs there is also a small single-storey kitchen extension with a sedum roof and glass lantern. There are no drawings or building regulations for this either. It was only built in 2015. It feels cold and a little damp and the surveyor and builder have both queried what load calculations were done for the roof and whether the insulation is there and if there is enough.

There is an indemnity policy for the building but this doesn’t cover for structural problems or for any liability problems as far as I am aware.
The seller feels that both structures have stood the test of time and feels that I am making a fuss about nothing. However I am a sole parent of two children on a teachers salary so no huge savings pot that could be used if things go wrong.

I do however want to do what I can to keep the sale moving but am struggling to find out what the regulations are about building control measures needed if renting out an attic conversion.

It is an old house 1900’s so is never going to comply with all modern regulations. Will they apply whatever regulations were in force in 1999 if I apply for regularisation of the attic or will it be today’s? I think I have to renegotiate but at what level I am not sure.

I do not want to buy a house and suffer financially in ten years time for a risk that was taken by someone else because I can’t sell it.

Any advice would be hugely appreciated,


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10:27 AM, 1st March 2024, About 2 months ago

Dear Abigail,

Hopefully your solicitor is familiar on how to overcome such obstacles as not all are.

It does sound like there are a few genuine problems with the building. But firstly enquire of your solicitor what is the limitation period for a Building Control enforcement process and secondly if knowing the facts can you obtain a legal indemnity policy from one of the many specialists including County Legal Identities. If the terms of the policy are suitable to your mortgage provider that might suffice but there remains a risk should the building fall apart.

Good luck.


11:22 AM, 1st March 2024, About 2 months ago

I appreciate you have probably already spent a lot of money but if I were in your shoes I would walk away.
The problems you have encountered will not go away and will resurface if you try to sell in years to come.
It reminds me of when I was looking to buy a flat in London and my solicitor discovered the builder had changed the layout and not got the appropriate building regs. approval.
When I told the agent I was pulling out of the purchase unless the builder got retrospective approval- his reply “well he won’t do that , why don’t you just take a punt “on a £450,000 purchase.
Needless to say I didn’t proceed as I could see myriad problems for me in the future. Remember “Caveat Emptor “ let the buyer beware. You will get no help and no sympathy if it all goes pear shaped in the future and you will be out of pocket for thousands of pounds.

Kat Scott

11:36 AM, 1st March 2024, About 2 months ago

Hello Abigail,

I would suggest you get the current owner to apply for building control regularisation. This will highlight all the issues that need to be addressed. You could then find out the costs of putting this right. Either the current owner takes this off the price or puts all the issues right.

You have not mentioned if you are buying a share of the freehold. if no does the freeholder know the builder is possibly not structured stable? Has the work got planning approval for the loft work and as a flat?

The price your being asked to purchase the flat for is likely to be at market rate not taking into account any issues. If you pay this price and have to pay for corrections or sell at a discount when you come to sell then you would have overpaid for the flat. It's currently a buyer's market, if the seller is not willing to consider the flat issues then you need to for your position.

Reluctant Landlord

13:32 PM, 1st March 2024, About 2 months ago

walk away....leave the seller to sort this out.
There is no way of knowing what the situation is, you don't have a figure you can put on getting this sorted, so why take the risk?


14:56 PM, 1st March 2024, About 2 months ago

If you really want this property then reduce your offer by the cost of the worst case scenario - to reinforce the joists, make good and achieve building control sign-off.

David Houghton

16:56 PM, 1st March 2024, About 2 months ago

Builders control enforcement is 1 year or was last time I checked (planning 10 years). The question isn't os it building control compliant but is it safe. Your surveyor should know. Otherwise why is he getting paid

Tony Mcginn

9:35 AM, 2nd March 2024, About 2 months ago

The easy advice is always walk away. But that's a cop-out. Yea nothing can go.wrong if you walk away, but you decided on this property.for a reason, and you clearly do want it.
The fire precautions sound good. You are not buying 2 flats so you don't need an upgrade between them for fire retardation.

I bet you they did upgrade the floor / ceiling joists. Nobody is going to fall through even if they didn't, the worst that will happen is some cracking. If the house suits buy it, force the pri e down if you can

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