Building Regulations Approval

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If you are converting your loft you must receive comply with the building regs even though planning permission is not usually required.

But do you really need to bother?

After all, Jack-the-Lad from down the road has told you that it is just council red tape.

It’s not important. Go ahead and build your loft conversion.

I mean. What can they do? Make you tear it all down?

Well. Actually. Yes they can. And it cost you plenty to either fix or demolish an unregulated conversion. trust me on this one.

Research published by Direct Line claimed that unapproved building work in the UK, which resulted in projects such as loft conversions being halted or even aborted, cost the affected homeowner an average of nearly £10,500 or a national total of around £313 million.

Starting a conversion without approval is asking for trouble. And there is no excuse.

Even if your builder assured you that approval had been granted. It is the HOMEOWNERS responsibility to ensure that the necessary approval is obtained.

Even if they don’t pick up a hammer or draw a plan themselves.

And, even if you think you can get away with finishing your loft conversion without the council finding out - and if you don’t get on with the neighbours you’ve got no chance - when it comes to selling your house you are going to have a world of trouble when prospective buyers send round their surveyor.

Still not worried? Jack-the-Lad tipped you the wink that all you have to do is ask for retrospective approval?

Think again.

15% of retrospective applications are turned down.

And, if a buyer of your home discovers unapproved work, you will have to dip your hand in your pocket to put it right.

So how wide spread is the practice of undertaking loft projects without the required approval?

Incredibly the research carried out by Direct Line showed that 1 in 5 of the new homebuyers in their survey had found that their loft conversions hadn’t been approved.

Which, admittedly, does seem to suggest that is easy to get away with building an unapproved loft conversion. But, hey, let’s not go there.

The three golden rules to remember about building regulations approval and your project are:

1) Your loft conversion must be given building regulations approval, and, it is your responsibility to ensure that the correct consent is given.

2) DO NOT let builders tell you that approval is not needed.

3) If in doubt – contact your local building control officers.

Finally, the biggest plus point in going through the process of applying for building regulation approval is the extra reassurance it gives you once work is under way.

If you have employed a firm of builders to convert your loft for you that work will be independently checked by your council’s (or your own) building inspector to give some added safeguards on the quality of the work being carried out on your property.

Great - But What If My Application Is Rejected?

Don’t panic. Easy for me to say I know but it isn’t the end of the world.

And, if your application for building regulations approval is rejected, it doesn’t mean the end of your loft conversion project.

At this point, despite not having approval, you could still go ahead with the work after giving two days notice but, and it’s a big but, the council could take enforcement action if your work doesn’t meet the building regulations.

But, usually after an application is rejected it will simply be a matter of adjusting your plans in line with the recommendations of the councils building control officers.

You will then be given approval when you resubmit your plans – and there shouldn’t be any additional fees to pay.

If you really want to dig your heels in and totally disagree with the councils decision, and are unwilling to resubmit your loft conversion plans, you can ask for a determination from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or Welsh Assembly.

They will then decide who is right – you or the council.

It must be pointed out that the determination procedure can only be carried out if you have made a full plans application and that this service is not available if you simply give building notice.

In the event of the council rejecting your application for building regulations approval you may be able to ask the council to ‘relax or dispense’ with the section of the regulations that you have failed to meet.

If they refuse to do this you could then appeal to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or Welsh Assembly.

So, don't lose heart just yet if your application for building regulations approval is rejected. 

It can usually be sorted out very quickly and easily with the local council and by acting on their recommendations and resubmitting your application.

For more info see the related pages below

All About Planning Permission

The Party Wall Act

Be Prepared!

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