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Buying house with no building regs/planning permission

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  • Buying house with no building regs/planning permission

    We're in the process of buying a 1930s house that has had a small extension to the dining room and the loft converted into a usable space, but has not had proper stairs put in. Access to the loft is by a fixed wooden ladder, and we were planning at some point to put in stairs up to the loft.
    Our solicitor has informed us that neither planning permission nor building regs have been obtained for the extension and the converted loft room.

    We're lucky that it's fairly early on in the buying process, so would not lose thousands if we pulled out now but would like to go ahead with the purchase if we can find a way around these issues.

    Any advice gratefully received - thank you!

  • #2
    Re: Buying house with no building regs/planning permission

    Are you paying more for the house because it has this extra "room"?

    Savvy estate agents advertise this sort of thing as "Useful boarded loft storage space with natural light...."
    RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
    As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.


    • #3
      Re: Buying house with no building regs/planning permission

      It's a 3 bedroom house with an extra loft room, and we're probably paying slightly more for it as we're planning on putting stairs in to make it into a 4 bedroom house at some stage. It's been advertised as a 3 bedroom house.

      Structurally, we're concerned that some cowboy has converted the loft room and has not strengthened the joists and whatever else needs to be done.
      We're not quite so concerned about the extension to the dining room, I believe we can get indemnity insurance. The extension and conversion are more than 10 years old.
      What is our best way to proceed?


      • #4
        Re: Buying house with no building regs/planning permission


        We bought a house last year with a (partially) converted loft as FTB. It was advertised as an occasional room and not a bedroom. I think we paid a fair price for the advertised 3 bed semi. The loft has flooring, plasterboarded walls, heating, lighting and Velux windows. It is accessed by a fixed wooden ladder which comes directly off the landing through a permantly open gap into the loft. I think the quality of the work in the loft is ok. However I'm going to have a closer look and probably get a structural engineers opinion for peace of mind.

        The vendors took out indemnity insurance (for breach of planning regs and covenant) on our behalf as they didn't have building regs approval. Neither our full structural survey or the mortgage valuation mentioned issues with building regulation and the loft. The indemnity insurance was primarily taken out for a wall which had been removed between the kitchen and dining room which was highlighted in the survey.

        Since buying I have looked further into the building regs as ideally we would like to use the room as an occasional office/study. My main concerns are:

        - The access wrt building/fire regs.
        - The effect the conversion has on our building insurance. Neither our solictor or surveyor mentioned this at the time. The indemnity insurance presumably covers costs to return the loft to its original state if we are required to do so by the council, but nothing more.

        I would be willing to look into getting it sorted, particularly the stairs. However for what we want to use it for I'm worried that this will cause more problems than it solves.

        Thanks in advance for any input


        • #5
          Re: Buying house with no building regs/planning permission

          There should be no special regulations for setting aside a room in your property as a study.

          Also, you should not need special insurance.

          The issue is whether your property is primarily used for residential purposes or not. That means, are most of your rooms used for the purpose of living in as a home. If this is a the case, having a study/office will not affect regs or insurance issues.