Loft conversion without planning permission or building regs

by Readers Question

8:03 AM, 20th May 2019
About 4 months ago

Loft conversion without planning permission or building regs

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Loft conversion without planning permission or building regs

Hi everyone, We are in the process of buying a property and we have just found out that the loft conversion (into a bedroom) was done without planning permission or building regulations. This work was done probably over 25 years ago (windows are dated 1993) well before the current owners moved in.

I asked my solicitors if this bedroom would still be considered fit for purpose and they confirmed, verbally, that it would. I find it difficult to believe. I would not want to pay for the price of a 3 bedrooms bungalow and selling it as 2 beds one in the future. Unsure if an estate agent can market a property as a 3-bedroom bungalow if it turns out that one of the bedroom was a loft conversion without planning permission granted and building regulations approved? Could the use of the room as the bedroom for over 25 years change anything about it? I have read things about the 4 / 10 years rule, but I don’t think this could apply here.

Any thoughts?

We would also have all sort of other issues:
Risk of law enforcement by the Council (even if it is very unlikely)
We can’t guarantee the structure is adequate / the extension meets building regs
Could affect our mortgage
Insurance company could refuse to pay out under building insurance policy
Could impact the selling price as future buyer might not be prepared to take the risk

Our options so far if we wish to proceed, seem to be taking an indemnity insurance (not too keen on it as it doe not cover much) or to get a certificate of regularisation from the seller (if built after 1985 which is unlikely) which consist in an intrusive very long and complex work which is very likely to be refused.

Can you see any other options?

Jerome

 



Comments

james pearce

11:22 AM, 20th May 2019
About 4 months ago

I had a slightly similar situation several years ago albeit the third floor on a terraced house. The loft conversion was clearly illegal and not fit for purpose although a tenant had been using it for years. When I phoned the council there seemed to be an implication of grandfathers rights. I reduced my offer by the price of a loft conversion and gutted the house and did the loft properly anyway.
Substantial discount should be order of the day.....

JO CHAPMAN

11:41 AM, 20th May 2019
About 4 months ago

I have been in a similar situation. My solicitor advised me to delay the purchase until the current owner had obtained retrospective planning permission, which is what I did. If the loft does not comply with building regs, then you are buying a 2 bedroom house not a 3 bedroom and the value should be adjusted accordingly.

Anan Davis

11:58 AM, 20th May 2019
About 4 months ago

Get vendors to apply for certificate of existing use - it’s been there for more than 4 years so it cannot be refused. Or if you are in a hurry to complete get statement from vendors stating the use has been for more than 4 years & apply yourself - it’s not a problem but might be good idea to get confirmation that beams supporting floor are sufficient- although if it been used as a bedroom for 20 years & shows no sign of collapse it is a reasonable assumption that it is solid - good luck. Also you can get vendors to do a single premium insurance policy to cover you - your solicitor can advise

Harlequin Garden

12:01 PM, 20th May 2019
About 4 months ago

Loft conversion is likely to be permitted development now so not as onerous as a full planning application and you can apply for a certificate for lawful development as it is clearly older than 4 years and building regs also fall away after a number of years too - but before you do all this look into an indemnity insurance to cover you, if you alert the local authorities then you will lose this option. If it has no consents and you are concerned you can have building control come in to make a report to bring it up to current regs (or fire risk assessment) - and it is negotiating tool.

Adrian Atkins

13:17 PM, 20th May 2019
About 4 months ago

Most properties would not pass current building regulations. A thorough building surveyor report would throw up any problems.

Dylan Morris

14:02 PM, 20th May 2019
About 4 months ago

A mortgage lender surveyor would only value the property as a two bed so my advice would be to agree a sale price accordingly.

jojo

14:50 PM, 24th May 2019
About 4 months ago

Thank you very much for all your replies

Will I be able to 'market' the bungalow, in the future, as a 3 bedrooms property as one of the bedroom is missing planning permission and building regulations?

Thanks
Jerome

Harlequin Garden

15:28 PM, 24th May 2019
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by jojo at 24/05/2019 - 14:50
If it was me I'd get whatever consent is necessary - certificate of lawful use isn't hard to do. If it's a bungalow it's always going to be a loft room?

jojo

21:03 PM, 24th May 2019
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Harlequin Garden at 24/05/2019 - 15:28
I agree, a Certificate of lawful use seems to be the most viable option and I asked my solicitor to work toward that.

He seems to believe that it's not really needed due to the fact that the loft conversion was done over 26 years ago and he advised me to consider the indemnity insurance option instead which looks very limited to me.

With this certificate, would I be able to market the bungalow as a 3 bedroom property in the future when/if we decide to sell?
That's the question!

Wyn Burgess

8:32 AM, 25th May 2019
About 4 months ago

I've surveyed loft conversions in the past with this issue. To achieve Building Regs standards will almost certainly require a lot of work, beams, new floor, possible insulation, in effect the conversion has to be done again. Enforcement by Building Control is very unlikely as staff tend to be on performance related pay these days. I don't think a certificate of lawfullness is of much use as conversion is likely to meet permitted development rules already. As you say an indemnity insurance policy is of limited value and this is because of the low risk of enforcement action.
When you come to sell estate agents will either have to describe the bedroom as non building regs compliant or as storage as they (& you) could be accused of misrepresentation subsequently.
I'm sorry this is not the answer you were hoping for, certainly I would try and discount most of the value of the additional bedroom when negotiating the sale price.

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