Loft conversion without planning permission or building regs

by Readers Question

8:03 AM, 20th May 2019
About 9 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

Nick Pope

12:59 PM, 25th May 2019
About 9 months ago

As a mortgage surveyor I would concur with the comments above. I am fairly relaxed about roof conversions without planning permission and indeed it is not now required for most conversions as it's permitted development. However I always flag up the need for building regulation approval. Many builders will claim that approval is not required as they want to get on with the work and not have the hassle of an application which will take time.
Some conversions are carried out by enthusiastic amateurs and often they think that planning permission and building regulation are the same and within the council neither department speaks to the other!
As a landlord however I become very concerned as non-compliance with fire precautions and method of escape in particular. If a tenant was injured or died in a fire I have no doubt that the landlord would be sued and the judge would almost inevitable find in the tenant's favour.
My advice - have the conversion checked for safety and it it's not safe put it out of use (just lock it up) or put a term in the lease that the space is for storage only and must not be used as a bedroom.
However as a landlord myself

jojo

17:28 PM, 25th May 2019
About 9 months ago

Thank you very much for your inputs

I have booked a building survey for 03rd June.
If the loft conversion complies with building regulations or more likely needs (hopefully reasonable) work to do so (which I will use to negotiate the price) would that be enough to make this room fit for a bedroom?
Would the lack of original building regulation paperwork still be an issue?
If so what solution would I have to make it right?

Is it worth applying for a lawful development certificate of existing use to compensate the lack of planning permission?

Many thanks

Guy Charrison

18:02 PM, 25th May 2019
About 9 months ago

I would think that after 25 years that the chance of enforcement from the local authority is small, I suspect that an indemnity could be purchased for less than £150, that in itself reflects the small amount of risk that an indemnity company would place on this. That all said it is always best to 'clean up' the planning issue; I would approach the local authority and try and regularise the position. The local authority will either do this or not, if not they may require the works to be upgraded to a current Building Regulations standard. Why no ask the seller to do this?
best wishes
Guy

Wyn Burgess

18:37 PM, 25th May 2019
About 9 months ago

As said work unlikely to comply and you will likely need beams into the party wall(s)(so party wall agreements needed with neighbours), new floor structure plus thermal and acoustic insulation and mains linked smoke detectors to comply with current building regs. The cost is likely to be the same as if you were building a new loft conversion (circa £35K plus VAT) here in Barnet and could be even more depending on how much of the old conversion needs to be removed. I apologise for not being more positive!

Harlequin Garden

19:06 PM, 25th May 2019
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Wyn Burgess at 25/05/2019 - 18:37
But isn't the consensus that it doesn't need planning or building control consent as it falls outside the time range - if we did this we'd be pulling down extensions all over the place. CLUED and if you feel like it indemnity insurance. What you advertise it as - this is a whole different range - is then up to you and your agent, you can calls rooms what you wish unless it's obvious.

Graham Cottrell

15:15 PM, 26th May 2019
About 9 months ago

I'm glad Jojo has commissioned a professional survey to establish the true position with this situation, as the starting point.
Claiming dispensation under time limiting rules for what is a 'business premises' is hardly a responsible approach.
If the findings of the survey confirm the majority of the scheme is satisfactory, then its logical to apply to the LA for it to be regularised. However if its deemed to require a massive amount of work to make it compliant - that tells you everything & that it shouldn't be slid through on a fudge.

Graham Cottrell

16:37 PM, 26th May 2019
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Nick Pope at 25/05/2019 - 12:59
Generally in agreement with you Nick, but a few items to raise:
1. It is often possible for small works to be undertaken legally via a 'Building Notice' with the LA where their BCO oversees the work. This method negates the formal full-plans submission procedure & can save time. However builders can not legally proceed without any reference at all to the LA.
2. People need to be aware that works classified as 'Permitted Development' do not give automatic rights to proceed without reference to the Local Planning Dept.
Particularly with loft conversions there will be local rules about size & positioning of roof windows, dormers, ridge heights, materials & any impact on adjoining neighbours - so they still have to apply via the LA Planning Dept, although a full Planning Application & fee isn't required.

jojo

22:25 PM, 1st June 2019
About 9 months ago

Thanks again for all your inputs.

Would anyone know, if under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) or the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 (BPRs) or the estate agent act of 1979, estate agents are not allowed to market a property, let’s say as a 3 bedroom bungalow, if one of the bedroom was a loft conversion with no planning permission and no building regulations?

If so would you know under what section is it stipulated?

Thank you

Graham Cottrell

22:57 PM, 1st June 2019
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by jojo at 01/06/2019 - 22:25
I dont think that would stand up. - 'Caveat Emptor' has long been the adopted standard

Wyn Burgess

8:13 AM, 2nd June 2019
About 9 months ago

Most estate agents I know would describe a non compliant bedroom as storage but it was obvious they were DIY. If the conversion looked OK you'd probably struggle with a claim as they are not under a duty to search Building Control records, they can't in any event, only the vendor/conveyancer can do this. Vendor is under a duty to disclose if he/she knew.

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