Home Extension

     

     
Know the Building Regulations

Even if you do not need planning permission for your extension, because you are using permitted development rights, you must get building regulation approval.

The Building Regulations set out minimum requirements for structural integrity, fire safety, energy efficiency, damp proofing, ventilation and other key aspects that ensure a building is safe.

Most repair work is excluded from the Building Regulations, with the exceptions of replacement windows, under­­pinning and rewiring. However, apart from certain new buildings such as sheds, outbuildings and some conser­vatories, all new building work, including altera­tions, must comply with the Building Regulations.

Typical Examples of Work Needing Approval:

  • Home extensions such as for a kitchen, bedroom, lounge, etc.
  • Loft conversions. Internal structural alterations, such as the removal of a load-bearing wall.
  • Installation of baths, showers, WCs which involve new drainage or waste plumbing.
  • Installation of new heating appliances.
  • New chimneys or flues.
  • Altered openings for new windows.

Extending a Listed Building Can Be Problematic

Permitted development rights do not apply to listed buildings, so any extensions will need both planning and listed building consent. The design of any extensions to a listed building need to be of a very high quality and it will be necessary to use the services of a specialist architect or surveyor.

It will be essential to work closely with the local authority conser­vation officer. Each officer will have their own perspective on what will alter the character of a listed building. It is a criminal offence to alter a listed building, inside or out, without listed building consent.

Know the Party Wall Act

Your neighbours cannot stop you from build­ing up to, or even on, the boundary between your properties, even if it requires access onto their land (providing you have planning permission to do so, and there are no restrictive covenants).

The Party Wall Act etc. 1996 allows you to carry out work on, or up to, your neighbours’ land and buildings, formalising the arrange­ments while also protecting everyone’s inter­ests. This is not a matter covered by planning or building control.

If your extension involves building or digging foundations within 3m of the boundary, party wall or party wall struc­ture, or digging foun­dations within 6m of a boundary, the work will require you to comply with the Party Wall Act. In these cases you may need a surveyor to act on your behalf. The act does not apply?in?Scotland.
You Can Start Within 48 Hours of Notifying Building Control

Once you have dealt with planning, if you are in a hurry to start building your exten­­sion, you can commence work immediately after giving the local authority building control depar­­tment 48 hours’ notice. You are required to submit a ‘Building?Notice’ and the required fee.

Generally the Buildi­ng Notice method is more suitable for simple works where detailed draw­ings are not required, but it can be used for any project, with the exception of work to listed buildings.

For most extensions it is best to make a Full Plans application.?This involves submitting detailed drawings, specifications, calculations and a location plan for inspection by the local authority, together with the appli­ca­tion forms and appropriate fee.

Building control has to respond within five weeks unless you agree to give them an extension to two months. A Full Plans submission allows any irregularities to be resolved before work commences.

With a Building Notice, the building control officers can ask for proof of compliance at any stage, so it is essential to make sure they make all necessary inspec­tions and provide any structural calcula­tions when requested. When the project is com­pleted and inspect­ed by the local authority, a completion certifi­cate will be issued which will prove useful if the property is ever to be sold on. Application fees are set individually by each local author­ity.

      

The ‘Right to Light’ Exists in Law

Your neighbour may attempt to block your plans by claiming they have a legal right to light to one or more of their windows. There is such a thing as a legally established ‘right to light’, usually estab­­lished auto­matically ‘by prescription’ after 20 years, however, it is only relevant in limited circum­stances.

A right to light is a type of easement and overrides any planning permission you might have and your permitted develop­ment rights. It can in theory, therefore, prevent you from blocking out a neighbour’s window. How­ever, it only provides for whatever light is reasonably required for the use of the building. It does not mean that your exten­sion cannot obstruct a neighbour’s window or view, or reduce the amount of sunlight entering – these are planning consid­er­ations.

Rights of light are only likely to be relevant in city centres where buildings are very close together. In such circumstances contact a specialist lawyer.

        
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