Is a regularisation certificate required or important?

by Readers Question

11:20 AM, 13th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Is a regularisation certificate required or important?

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Is a regularisation certificate required or important?

I am in the process of buying an Edwardian House with a loft room. The loft room was done back in 1994 by the current sellers, there is a permanent staircase installed, the room has a roof window, is carpeted and has a central heating.loft

The house is being sold as a 4-bedroom house not including the loft room. When I viewed the house, the sellers advised that they use the loft room as an office room. I am now midway through the process, got a mortgage offer and all searches came back, but it has just appeared that the sellers do not have the building regulations completion certificate for the loft room. My solicitors has asked them to get a regularisation certificate from the council, but they are unwilling to do so because they it will take a lot of time to get the certificate and they may lose out on their upper chain purchase.

They also say that they believe that the regularisation certificate is not needed because the loft room is not a habitable space, and they now started to say that in fact they only use it as a loft storage so it is not a room at all. They have offered to give me an indemnity policy instead.

I am really worried about it now. I absolutely love the house, it fits all boxes for me and I really don’t want to lose it. But my solicitor insists that the certificate is needed because the works have been done to loft and to the roof and the fact that the room is stated to be not a habitable room does not matter. I am also worried that I will be moving into a house parts of which may happen to not comply with the building regs, and I won’t have any money left after the purchase to rectify any problem that may happen as a result. I also have a toddler and that makes me feel even more uneasy about buying something that may be non-building regs compliant. But I do want this house so much!

Is there anything I can do with this situation? Can I ask for an indemnity to cover any works requested by the council (if any) to issue the regularisation certificate? Or may be anything else?

Thank you so much in advance!

Natasha



Comments

Neil Patterson

11:24 AM, 13th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Hi Natasha,

I don't know enough about this to advise you, but because of that I would take my solicitors advice. If anything goes wrong then at least your are covered by the solicitors professional indemnity insurance, but you would not be if you went against their advice.

St. Jims

12:44 PM, 13th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Natasha, I had exactly the same problem. Stand your ground or find another house.

Here is the nub of the problem:

"....they are unwilling to do so because they it will take a lot of time to get the certificate and they may lose out on their upper chain purchase."

In other words, your vendor is flogging a house that was not ready for sale, and now they're trying to make that your problem.

Your solicitor is right in every respect.

I bought a flat in a block of flats where the owner of the top floor flat (the one above me) had developed the loft space without building regs or planning permission. In doing so, he rendered my property *uninsurable*. I was obliged to get a certificate of regularisation from the Council, after which I could insure it.

To get the certificate, I contacted the Council. They came round to visit within a few days. They thanked me for not hiding the problem from them. Before they would issue a certificate, they made the owner of the upstairs flat strip out all the wiring, the radiators and all but one of the ceiling lights. They then issued a certificate of regularisation that stipulated the loft space be used "for light storage only".

My guess is that your vendor knows that they are destined to either strip out all their stuff from the loft or find an uninformed person to sell it to. It follows that they should be ready to negotiate on price, since the lack of a certificate is essentially their problem, not yours.

I know you're in love with this house (I've been there too) but your only two sensible choices are to submit a heavily downgraded offer or walk away.

J

Simon Bentley

13:08 PM, 13th February 2017
About 2 years ago

I happened to catch an episode of Phil Spencer: Secret Agent yesterday which dealt with more or less this issue, Phil arranged an inspection from building control and they agreed to issue "a letter of no further action" (may have title slightly wrong), which might be an option open to you.

Link to episode is - http://www.channel4.com/programmes/phil-spencer-secret-agent/on-demand/57584-018

Paul Green

13:10 PM, 13th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Find out the square footage of the whole house . Put the price your paying into a calculator and divide it by the total square footage. This will give you the price of each individual square foot of living space your paying for. Find out the room size of the loft space in square feet , which is being sold as a habitable office and then deduct this amount from the asking price. Example house price £400000 ....square footage of whole of house including office is 1000 sqf = £400 per sqf . Office room size 10 feet by 10 feet = 100 sqf 100 multiplied by 400 is £40000 reduce purchase price by £40000 leaving your offer at £360000. You can explain how you got to this figure and if you really want it add £5000 or £10000 to pay for the extra storage and take out the indemnity policy. Remember thou your have the same problem when selling, so you won't be able to advertise it as a office, so you yourself will have to accept a lower offer. You also in a good position because if you pull out and they don't accept the lower offer, their out of the chain and will have to find a new buyer which from start to finish , even in a quick sale will be a further 3 months, so they will probably lose their new house anyway. Stick to your guns

Rhett Costin

16:17 PM, 13th February 2017
About 2 years ago

I would concur with sticking to your guns. Loft conversions are generally more complicated in terms of building regulations in that rules for means of escape and fire rated doors, partitions etc are much more stringent. A building surveyor or architect may be able to advise you if the loft is compliant, but they may need sight of receipts for fire rated products or written clarification from the builder. If not, it could be an expensive retro-fit to sort it. Whether you organise the regularisation certificate or they do, it is going to take the same amount of time, but surely quicker than them trying to get another purchaser, when this may all come up again at the last minute anyway.

tasha ula

16:37 PM, 13th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Hi, thank you so much everyone! I am slightly confused though - they sell the house as a 4 bedroom house with loft room, and it is priced as a 4-bed, rather than 5-bed one, the loft room is not counted as a habitable room. Is this still such a big issue, also if they give an indemnity policy for the absence of it?

Rob Crawford

16:58 PM, 13th February 2017
About 2 years ago

The fact that the loft room has carpet, electrical wiring, central heating and a permanent stair case would suggest that the intent was to use it as a habitual room. Even if this was not the case under current regulations building regs would be required and in some cases planning permission (although no dormer so unlikely). If building regs were not sought due to the age of the conversion, or other reason, then indemnity insurance could be taken out by the seller - however read this first, if the council find out you could still have problems: http://hoa.org.uk/services/ask-an-expert-2/ask-an-expert-i-am-selling-questions/selling-without-building-regulations/

Neil Hewitt

18:44 PM, 13th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Hello,

The issue here is that the use of the loft room does not so much matter, but what has happened to the structure of the roof to create that loft room? I survey such houses frequently, including one today, with a loft room, and a satisfactory means of escape, but, certain timbers had been removed from the roof structure to create the room, namely the horizontal timbers known as collars. It looks like you have not had a full building survey carried out, as this would have picked up on the defects, and of course, you would have stated that you had such a survey carried out. The loft today had movement due to the alterations, and will either need structural timbers put back in, with local authority involvement, or to be created into a proper loft room. Building control can only regularise under certain situations, and they would need to see the structural elements. The fact that the owner has not gone through building control to begin with, suggests that the loft conversion has been poorly done, and may affect the structural stability of the roof. Please also remember that one day you will sell the house, and exactly the same problems may arise for the buyer. I do appreciate your emotional attachment to the house, I deal with many people in this situation, but at the end of the day, they do appreciate my honest statements about a house. I wish you the best.

tasha ula

19:11 PM, 13th February 2017
About 2 years ago

HI Neil
Thank you very much! You are right, I haven't done the survey, although the seller shared with me the survey which they have done after they have converted the loft back in 1994, which says that the loft is structurally sound. I am starting to think though that I should probably spend some money on a survey now. Not sure if I am allowed to ask this here, but would you be able to message me with your quote for such a survey? Many thanks! Natasha

Paul Green

20:14 PM, 13th February 2017
About 2 years ago

I don't believe the house price as not been inflated to include the office space, they were hoping a sucker would buy because of an emotional impulse..,Have a free estimate from a loft conversion company to find out how much it is going to cost you to make the loft structurally sound, and habitable including haveing new building regulations drawn up etc and then deduct that cost from the asking price. Once you sign the exchange legally binding papers, your in the same position as them, and their laughing all the way to the Leeds, in other words you're now holding the baby ... it's a matter of risk versus reward, sounds to me your taking all the RISK, this needs to be reflect in the price, a loft conversion can cost £20000 upwards. Think with your head and not your heart. Buyer beware... lay it all out in a letter and present your solotion to them, and if they wont comprise walk away. Alternatively proceed and plough more money into the house to rectify it yourself, but you'll be the one out of pocket. I don't believe for one minute they have not added money to the sale price for the office loft, I would bet my house on it. Don't let the estates agent tell you otherwise either, they work for the seller and not you. They want a quick sale to pocket there commission.., I lost my first house and was gutted, 6 months latter I bought a different one and was so lucky I lost the first , it turned out to be the best thing that could of happened to me. Every cloud as they say....

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