House alterations

Ask the Experts - Some alterations were made to my house a few years ago

Q.        Some alterations were made to my house a few years ago and, now I’m looking to sell it I understand there could be a problem due to lack of consents. Is this right and what can I do about it?

A.        It all depends on what the works were – was it the sort of work which required Building Regulations approval only or was it major work that should have had Planning Permission?

If the work should have been subject to Planning Permission then yes, you could have a major problem. Your purchaser’s solicitor will almost certainly raise the issue and while minor infringements may be overlooked, it is not unknown for entire homes that were built without the proper consents to be demolished!

In the case of Building Regulations only, it is possible to apply for retrospective approval, although your local authority may charge high fees for this and the alterations will need to conform to current standards, not the ones in force when the work was carried out.

A lack of Building Regulations approval can be overcome by taking out special insurance cover to indemnify a purchaser against any future problems. In fact, your purchaser’s solicitor will almost certainly insist on you taking out this insurance, which your own solicitor can arrange.

The good news here is that, since the risk factor is fairly low the cost of such cover is fairly reasonable and usually involves just one single payment. The policy is also transferable. One thing worth remembering, however, is that cover will probably be refused if you have already approached your local authority over the issue as they will then have been alerted to a breach of the regulations, which might make a claim more likely.

I am assuming the property isn’t Listed – if it is, Listed Consents are a whole different ball game, but we are very experienced in dealing with listed buildings and happy to help here as well.

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