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Lack of building regulations certificate for small extension

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  • Lack of building regulations certificate for small extension

    Hi,

    I am a first time buyer currently going through a house purchase which has two small single story extensions, one at the front (porch and living room) and one at the rear, a small widening of the dining room that involves the moving of a structural wall.

    There is planning permission and building regulations approval for the front extension (completed 2005) but no documentation regarding the rear one, which we are told is older. We know it was completed more than 10 years ago, because it happened prior to the previous owners vacancy, but may not be able to prove this.

    We have had a full buildings survey, and everything appears structurally sound, but in the report it stated that we request these documents as part of our pre-contract inquiries.

    Further to this, the survey highlighted that it had not been able to locate the drains on the property, and that these may have been concealed by the patio decking, or the extension flooring, but this would be shown in the building regulations documents (which do not seem to exist). We ideally want assurance that this is still accessible in the event of a problem.

    Our solicitor is waiting a response on these queries from the vendor which is yet to be forthcoming, and has advised that indemnity insurance might be an option, but I had at this time already contacted the council by email and had a response to say there are no records, which I think rules this option out.

    I am keen to understand what the risks are to me of this document not being available and what my options are.

    - How much of a problem is it going to be on resale?
    - How possible will it be to get the certificate retrospectively?
    - How likely is it that the council will get involved give the age?
    - Is there any other risk on me?
    - Would indemnity insurance have helped with any of this?
    - Do I need to consider pulling out or is that a major over-reaction for an extension of such small size?

    Thanks in advance,

    A stressed first time buyer

  • #2
    Re: Lack of building regulations certificate for small extension

    Hi,

    This is something I see all the time. Extensions and alterations without the necessary consents; especially when undertaking pre-acquisition surveys. It isn't out of the ordinary, however you shouldn't turn a blind eye to it either.

    Consider the below:-

    If the extension was built more than ten years ago, and no planning permission is given, then it will be unenforceable by the local authority.

    It could also be that the extension never required planning permission in the first place. Permitted development rights (once the permitted development order 1995) exclude particular works from requiring planning (especially small rear single storey extensions - depends on dimensions) unless in an area served by an Article 4 Direction. New housing estates and conservation areas are normally subject to these. Check the planning portal.

    Planning is unlikely to be a problem as long as it falls into one of the two above.

    Building Regulations is different. You can submit a regularisation application to the local authority Building Control department, although they may require further works before sign off. It all depends as to whether the works comply with the Building Regulations requirements of the time. Intrusive investigation is likely to be necessary by Building Control to determine (assuming construction):-

    - cavity wall ties
    - cavity wall insulation
    - floor insulation
    - damp proof membrane
    - damp proof course
    - roof structure - is it flat or pitched?
    - foundations
    - drainage

    Check wall openings in particular. If there is a downstand, it doesn't automatically mean there is a beam supporting the structure above.

    Remember that if the original house has a suspended timber ground floor, then the rear extension may have blocked off previous air vents.

    It is unlikely that the local authority will get involved.

    It will have an affect on sell-on if the buyer has conducted due-diligence and had a survey carried out. The same comments will appear.

    An indemnity policy will cover you with specific clause for breach of building regulations.

    Remember, while this is a very common issue, don't ignore it completely.

    Hope this helps

    G - RICS Chartered Building Surveyor

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