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Lack of building regulation approval

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  • Lack of building regulation approval

    Hello, I am wondering if anyone has any advice:

    I am a first time buyer and in the process of buying a ground floor Victorian conversion. The house was converted into two flats, ground and first floor in 1987 and at that time a small extension was added to the ground floor flat (an extra bedroom). From the HIP there seems to have been consent to do the conversion and build the extension.

    In 1997 the dividing wall between the sitting room and kitchen was removed and the chimney breast in the kitchen was removed (the cooker now sits in that spot) but the vendor is unable to produce planning permission or building regulation approval and is offering to give me an indemnity policy. She bought the flat in 2002 and so the building work was done by the owner before - they told her an RSJ had been put in place when the wall was removed. Clearly the indemnity would just stop me getting into trouble with the council for the lack of building regs but my concerns are two fold: is it safe and structurally sound? and will this cause problems for me when I come to re-sell in 5 or so years time? I have asked both solicitor and surveyor for advice but neither want to give an opinion.

    I dont want to nullify the potential idemnity but asking the council but want to check the work that was done (as quickly and in the least expensive manner possible) and would like the 'correct' paper work for peace of mind and for future resale.

    Has anyone encountered similar problems?

    Thanks so much for ideas / thoughts!

    Clare

  • #2
    Re: Lack of building regulation approval

    You have identified the problem: an indemnity policy will protect you against enforcement action, but will be of no help if the work was not done properly and there are physical problems

    You could take the view that, if the structure has been safe since 2002, there is no reason to suppose there is a problem. However, you would then be taking on the risk of their being a structural problem

    The only way to be sure is to expose the RSJ so that your surveyor can inspect. If he is satisfied all is well, there is probably no harm in the seller then applying for retrospective Building Regs consent. If you do not get that, any buyer from you will want (a) to see your surveyor's report that the work is structurally sound and (b) you to pay to top up the cover under the indemnity policy to the new market value of the property when you come to sell

    I hope this helps
    This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum

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    • #3
      Re: Lack of building regulation approval

      Thanks so much for your advice Justin.

      Unfortunately the surveyor is unwilling or unable to look further at the work that was done. Indeed although his report highlighted the fact the wall and chimney breast had been removed, it made no comment on his opinion of the safety (no visible cracks etc).

      Is this normal practice?

      It feels like a mine field! I thought being a first time buyer was meant to be simple!!

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      • #4
        Re: Lack of building regulation approval

        It may be that the surveyor feels the work should be inspected by a structural engineer.

        If I were you, I would give a copy of the surveyor's report to the seller, asking them to arrange for a structural engineer to inspect and confirm (in writing) that the support is adequate.

        If the seller refuses, I would find another property to buy: buying this one would be buying a problem that could be very serious
        This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum

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