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    • essexpalin
    • By essexpalin 7th Sep 17, 9:22 PM
    • 17Posts
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    essexpalin
    Indemnity insurance help?
    • #1
    • 7th Sep 17, 9:22 PM
    Indemnity insurance help? 7th Sep 17 at 9:22 PM
    Hi forum

    Can you kindly help as this is driving us a little crazy. We are in the final stages of first time purchase of a house. No big issues with the property apart from 2 possible areas of indemnity required. 1 (we think) is cleared up, although our conveyancer is very vague and giving next to no guidance.

    1 area remains, the garage which is on a boundary 5-6m from the house was converted to be home office - fully lined, heated, double glazed and so on. The flat roof was replaced with a pitched tiled roof (apex height approx 2.5-3m from ground). Now our survey picked up this 'might' have required some sort of planning permission. There seems to be no record of it being given or applied for however the work was done after 2000 but before 2005. It was done before the current owner moved in.

    Our covenyencer is saying not much other than she has no idea if we or do not need indemnity. She is offering to refer us to a 'specialist' colleague for help but only at £250! I thought this is why we pay conveyancers in the first place? This is not some complex listed structure just a modified garage. Our covenyencer suggests we might need both building regs and planning indemnity but she doesnt really know. The current owners wont pay for indemnity so its down to us (and so we would rather not waste money if we dont need to).

    PS someone else mentioned to us that if you can prove the change was done over 10 yrs ago you need not worry as councils cant do anything after such time?

    Can anyone lend any advice please?
Page 1
    • kinger101
    • By kinger101 7th Sep 17, 9:44 PM
    • 3,942 Posts
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    kinger101
    • #2
    • 7th Sep 17, 9:44 PM
    • #2
    • 7th Sep 17, 9:44 PM
    The only way your solicitor could find out if the building work had planning permission/met regulations would be to contact the local authority. And this would invalidate the indemnity policy.

    It's unusual for the vendor not to pay for the policy (chances are any other buyer will be advised they need one to*). But if you don't want to call the vendors bluff, just try to get a transferable policy so it's not a problem should you sell the house at a later date.

    *I'm not sure the local council can do anything now anyway, but it's standard advice to get a policy.
    • eddddy
    • By eddddy 7th Sep 17, 11:20 PM
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    eddddy
    • #3
    • 7th Sep 17, 11:20 PM
    • #3
    • 7th Sep 17, 11:20 PM
    The only way your solicitor could find out if the building work had planning permission/met regulations would be to contact the local authority. And this would invalidate the indemnity policy.
    Originally posted by kinger101
    That's not really correct. The conveyancer will have done a local authority search which should include all the planning history and building control history for the property.

    Presumably, the issue has arisen because the search didn't show any details of a garage conversion.

    If you want, you can usually do your own online search as well, from the local authority's website - but that would only show up the same stuff that your conveyancer has already.

    Out of interest, how did your conveyancer find out about the garage conversion? Was it flagged up by your surveyor for investigation?

    Realistically, the only reason to get indemnity insurance is if your mortgage lender insists on it. It's not hugely expensive.
    • ThePants999
    • By ThePants999 8th Sep 17, 12:35 AM
    • 866 Posts
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    ThePants999
    • #4
    • 8th Sep 17, 12:35 AM
    • #4
    • 8th Sep 17, 12:35 AM
    How long ago was the conversion? The "ten years" bit is right - no enforcement action can be taken over lack of planning permission after that much time (and 4 years for some types of works, but I can't remember the exact distinction).

    If it was recent, then have a read of https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/606669/170405_Householder_Technical_Guidance__-April_2017_FINAL.pdf and see if you can figure out whether the conversion complies
    • essexpalin
    • By essexpalin 8th Sep 17, 1:07 AM
    • 17 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    essexpalin
    • #5
    • 8th Sep 17, 1:07 AM
    • #5
    • 8th Sep 17, 1:07 AM
    That's not really correct. The conveyancer will have done a local authority search which should include all the planning history and building control history for the property.

    Presumably, the issue has arisen because the search didn't show any details of a garage conversion.

    If you want, you can usually do your own online search as well, from the local authority's website - but that would only show up the same stuff that your conveyancer has already.

    Out of interest, how did your conveyancer find out about the garage conversion? Was it flagged up by your surveyor for investigation?

    Realistically, the only reason to get indemnity insurance is if your mortgage lender insists on it. It's not hugely expensive.
    Originally posted by eddddy
    The issue arose solely though an observation by myself and officially in the surveyors report. No one is being very committed on what to do or even if its really a concern even. We are being made to feel like we are making a fuss by our conveyancer/vendor, the vendor had nothing flagged when she bought it 8 yrs ago.

    Looking deeper I am sure the garage has actually been fully rebuilt ground up on the old foundations with a supporting lintel where the garage door used to be (now brick). It looks a real nice job. I am thinking this could have been deemed a 'permitted development' at the time? However unless rules changed the issue I see under current PP is that the highest point of the roof exceeds 2.5m (the limit when within 2m of a boundary), its maybe about 3m. So unless regs have changed under current rules it would need planning permission as I see it.

    PS nothing for the garage is showing in the search, however i understand these only go back to around 2002? It is highly likely that the garage was converted around 2002 but not later than 2005. So could it be possibly it had permission but are just no there to see. Also after such a long time the council cant apparently do anything on PP issues anyhow but maybe can under building regs? All so confusing.
    Last edited by essexpalin; 08-09-2017 at 1:10 AM.
    • eddddy
    • By eddddy 8th Sep 17, 7:16 AM
    • 5,432 Posts
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    eddddy
    • #6
    • 8th Sep 17, 7:16 AM
    • #6
    • 8th Sep 17, 7:16 AM
    The issue arose solely though an observation by myself and officially in the surveyors report. No one is being very committed on what to do or even if its really a concern even. We are being made to feel like we are making a fuss by our conveyancer/vendor, the vendor had nothing flagged when she bought it 8 yrs ago.
    Originally posted by essexpalin
    I guess it's up to you to decide what you want to do.

    Based on the info you provided, there is no risk of planning or building control enforcement. (So there's no need for indemnity insurance, unless your mortgage lender insists.)

    If you're worried that the garage's lack of building regs might mean it's structurally unsound, under-insulated, have unsafe electrics etc, you should get surveys (it sounds like you have) and inspections etc.

    If you don't like the results of the surveys and inspections, either budget for repairs and/or reduce your offer or walk away.
    • jbainbridge
    • By jbainbridge 8th Sep 17, 7:57 AM
    • 1,730 Posts
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    jbainbridge
    • #7
    • 8th Sep 17, 7:57 AM
    • #7
    • 8th Sep 17, 7:57 AM
    As has been pointed out the time has run out for any action by the council, an indemnity would achieve nothing.
    • lincroft1710
    • By lincroft1710 8th Sep 17, 2:45 PM
    • 9,924 Posts
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    lincroft1710
    • #8
    • 8th Sep 17, 2:45 PM
    • #8
    • 8th Sep 17, 2:45 PM
    As has been pointed out the time has run out for any action by the council, an indemnity would achieve nothing.
    Originally posted by jbainbridge
    Completely disagree on the second part!! An indemnity would achieve more profit for the solicitor who acted as broker in selling the policy!
    • essexpalin
    • By essexpalin 9th Sep 17, 12:31 AM
    • 17 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    essexpalin
    • #9
    • 9th Sep 17, 12:31 AM
    • #9
    • 9th Sep 17, 12:31 AM
    Thanks for the replies folks.

    So by the sounds of it indemnity is a waste of time given how long ago this building was built (both in terms of planning permission AND building regs - if say both were contravened?).

    I wonder how does one proves the amount of time its been there (as it could you word against theirs say), is google earth dated imagery good enough?

    PS Indemnity does just seem like some sort of cop out when conveyances dont really know what to do. Any doubt just recommend indemnity whether its of any use/needed or not as the case maybe.
    Last edited by essexpalin; 09-09-2017 at 12:34 AM.
    • badmemory
    • By badmemory 9th Sep 17, 3:21 AM
    • 951 Posts
    • 988 Thanks
    badmemory
    Indemnity insurance. A nice little earner for the conveyancer. I'd love to know if one of the normal ones have ever paid out or indeed if an actual insurance company even knows about them.

    We had to pay out for this on one panel of one window (it had been replaced because a vandal had damaged it). All the other double glazing was by then over 20 years old so well out of warranty. There is no way the buyers would have thought for a minute to claim on that one window especially as they replaced the lot as soon as they moved in. A complete scam by the conveyancers but it stopped them holding up the sale.

    If I was honest I would rather they charged more than leaving me feeling conned!
    • rabialiones
    • By rabialiones 9th Sep 17, 8:34 AM
    • 1,704 Posts
    • 210 Thanks
    rabialiones
    is the property leasehold or freehold?
    as that may make a difference
    Nice to save.
    • eddddy
    • By eddddy 9th Sep 17, 9:48 AM
    • 5,432 Posts
    • 5,100 Thanks
    eddddy
    PS Indemnity does just seem like some sort of cop out when conveyances dont really know what to do. Any doubt just recommend indemnity whether its of any use/needed or not as the case maybe.
    Originally posted by essexpalin
    It depends how you look at it.

    I guess one argument is that you and/or your solicitors (who charge £250 per hour), could spend lots of time investigating when it was built, whether it needed planning consent - and so delay the transaction.

    Or you could just pay £50 to £100 for indemnity insurance, and keep things moving.

    I wonder how does one proves the amount of time its been there (as it could you word against theirs say), is google earth dated imagery good enough?
    Originally posted by essexpalin
    It would be on the balance of probabilities. So, for example, a sworn statement from a neighbour saying "It was there when I moved here in 1999", would sway the balance of probabilities.

    (But if, for example, two other neighbours give sworn statements saying that it wasn't - that might sway the balance of probabilities the other way.)

    Old photos, EA details etc would also be valid evidence.
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