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Building regs open plan conservatory

Hi all, some advice would be appreciated.

Bought my house 6 years ago, it's a terraced house with an original 2 story dormer at the back. Originally the ground floor of the dormer would have been where the back door was. At some point this part of the wall has been removed (steel put in), and extended sideways. This extension has proper foundations, etc, but the roof is polycarbonate. This was all done well over 25yrs ago, before the previous owner had it.

Now my problem - due to recent storm damage I need to replace the roof, and will also update wooden windows / door with UPVC. But I'm worried about how this will impact when I come to sell (in the next few months), as it won't have building regs sign-off.

Building regs won't sign off a like for like replacement as far as I know because to be counted as a "conservatory" it needs to be separated from the main house with walls / door - this isn't the case, and not possible to change back. From what I can see, if replacing a "thermal element" i.e. the roof, it needs to meet energy targets, which it won't. My only other option would be to replace the existing design for a flat / pitched roof - but that will cost a fortune and take time.

Would a like for like repair trigger requirement for building reg sign-off? Or am I overthinking this?
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  • Doozergirl
    Doozergirl Posts: 33,716
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    edited 4 February at 8:50PM
    If you leave it with a polycarbonate roof, old or new, and you leave it open to the rest of the house, it will be flagged as a problem by a surveyor.  

    That has never met the building regulations and I should think that more people will be bothered by the heat loss than have been in the past.  
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
  • Hoenir
    Hoenir Posts: 1,204
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    EPC rating will be a red flag negative when you come to sell. 
  • gazfocus
    gazfocus Posts: 2,362
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    We have a conservatory that we had opened up to the kitchen in the house. At the time, didn’t realise that we needed building regs (a bit too naive and trusted the builder back when it was done) but when we listed the house for sale 3 years ago, we hit a brick wall when the buyers solicitor was demanding retrospective building regs. The buyers weren’t actually bothered but their solicitor really got a bee in his bonnet. 

    When we spoke to Building control at the council (anonymously), we were told that the house would now need to meet CURRENT building regs so would need to have hard wired smoke alarms/heat detectors/floor insulation/etc. 

    Our solicitor said the buyers should accept an indemnity policy but that’s all down to the buyers and their solicitor. 

    HOWEVER, I genuinely think you’ll struggle with selling it you put a polycarb roof back on with it being opened up to the back of the house. As you’ll know, those roofs are damn noisy when it rains and really bad at thermal insulation. 
  • AIEmpire
    AIEmpire Posts: 9
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    gazfocus said:
    We have a conservatory that we had opened up to the kitchen in the house. At the time, didn’t realise that we needed building regs (a bit too naive and trusted the builder back when it was done) but when we listed the house for sale 3 years ago, we hit a brick wall when the buyers solicitor was demanding retrospective building regs. The buyers weren’t actually bothered but their solicitor really got a bee in his bonnet. 

    When we spoke to Building control at the council (anonymously), we were told that the house would now need to meet CURRENT building regs so would need to have hard wired smoke alarms/heat detectors/floor insulation/etc. 

    Our solicitor said the buyers should accept an indemnity policy but that’s all down to the buyers and their solicitor. 

    HOWEVER, I genuinely think you’ll struggle with selling it you put a polycarb roof back on with it being opened up to the back of the house. As you’ll know, those roofs are damn noisy when it rains and really bad at thermal insulation. 
    Thanks. Hmm, that was my worry. What happened with your buyer in the end?

    Ideally it would have a proper roof on it, but I need to sell fairly sharpish, and I know it will be a headache / costly (architect drawings, planning, builders, building regs, etc). Not to mention there's a hole in the roof still with a bucket under, so needs sorting asap. 

    I have no idea when the original work was done - i.e., removing ground floor dormer wall / putting in RSJ, and extending sideways, which will make it harder to even regularise it. Must be common though, because a few houses on this street have had this done at some point in the past.

  • gazfocus
    gazfocus Posts: 2,362
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    AIEmpire said:
    gazfocus said:
    We have a conservatory that we had opened up to the kitchen in the house. At the time, didn’t realise that we needed building regs (a bit too naive and trusted the builder back when it was done) but when we listed the house for sale 3 years ago, we hit a brick wall when the buyers solicitor was demanding retrospective building regs. The buyers weren’t actually bothered but their solicitor really got a bee in his bonnet. 

    When we spoke to Building control at the council (anonymously), we were told that the house would now need to meet CURRENT building regs so would need to have hard wired smoke alarms/heat detectors/floor insulation/etc. 

    Our solicitor said the buyers should accept an indemnity policy but that’s all down to the buyers and their solicitor. 

    HOWEVER, I genuinely think you’ll struggle with selling it you put a polycarb roof back on with it being opened up to the back of the house. As you’ll know, those roofs are damn noisy when it rains and really bad at thermal insulation. 
    Thanks. Hmm, that was my worry. What happened with your buyer in the end?

    Ideally it would have a proper roof on it, but I need to sell fairly sharpish, and I know it will be a headache / costly (architect drawings, planning, builders, building regs, etc). Not to mention there's a hole in the roof still with a bucket under, so needs sorting asap. 

    I have no idea when the original work was done - i.e., removing ground floor dormer wall / putting in RSJ, and extending sideways, which will make it harder to even regularise it. Must be common though, because a few houses on this street have had this done at some point in the past.

    Our buyers pulled out in the end (they were receiving terribly advise from their solicitor in my view and our EA did absolutely nothing to try and keep the sale on track). We did actually list the house for sale last year and the buyers (and their solicitor) were happy with an indemnity policy but the sale fell through for other reasons (to do with the house our buyers were selling). 

    I wouldn’t worry too much about not having building regs. You should be able to argue that the structure is clearly safe if it’s not showing signs of movement in over 25 years. 

    This time round, we asked the EA (different one to first time) to notify interested buyers that we didn’t have building regs so shouldn’t come up as an issue later on. We also asked our solicitor to mention this upfront to the buyers solicitor before proceeding with any paperwork etc. 

    I don’t know what your budget is but we took the polycarb roof off ours when we bought the house and had it replaced with a lightweight tiled roof (can’t remember what the tiles were called). Our conservatory is about 6.7m x 3.3m and for the wood, tiles and labour it cost about £2K (this was 10 years ago though). It took the roofer 3 full days and that didn’t include insulation or plasterboard as we had to do that ourselves. 

  • Section62
    Section62 Posts: 7,488
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    gazfocus said:
    AIEmpire said:
    gazfocus said:




    I wouldn’t worry too much about not having building regs. You should be able to argue that the structure is clearly safe if it’s not showing signs of movement in over 25 years

    Someone who knows about structures would know that was a bogus argument though.  Defective structures can stand quite happily for years until they don't anymore.

    Maybe your previous buyer's solicitor knew enough about their job to know that an indemnity policy doesn't stop a defective building collapsing?

    If the breach is just adding a conservatory and taking away the existing exterior door then an indemnity policy might be suitable.  But where an external wall has been (partially) removed with no evidence of either SE or BC involvement then a buyer isn't really being advised properly if a solicitor just tells them to accept an indemnity policy.

    Also the advice you were given in your anonymous enquiry was wrong.  Retrospective approval (regularisation) is based on the regulations that were in force at the time the work was completed, not the current regs.  So if they weren't required when your conservatory was done then you wouldn't need to add hard wired smoke alarms/heat detectors/floor insulation/etc just for the purposes of regularisation.

    Wanting an indemnity policy meant you couldn't have a free and frank conversation with building control which would have led to you finding out that regularisation was easier than you thought, and with regularisation the buyer's solicitor would (presumably) have been satisfied, and perhaps a completed sale the first time round.  Indemnity policies aren't always the miracle cure, they can also be the cause of problems.
  • gwynlas
    gwynlas Posts: 1,620
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    From your description I am unclear whether you have a conservatory or a side return extension given that a RSJ was installed.Corrugated plastic sheeting was widely used in the past whereas we are used to more sophisticated double glazed roofing now. Would it be possible for a like for like repair to be done? The house would be valued as is and new buyer would be expecting to replace roof anyway.
  • silvercar
    silvercar Posts: 46,744
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    AIEmpire said:
    gazfocus said:
    We have a conservatory that we had opened up to the kitchen in the house. At the time, didn’t realise that we needed building regs (a bit too naive and trusted the builder back when it was done) but when we listed the house for sale 3 years ago, we hit a brick wall when the buyers solicitor was demanding retrospective building regs. The buyers weren’t actually bothered but their solicitor really got a bee in his bonnet. 

    When we spoke to Building control at the council (anonymously), we were told that the house would now need to meet CURRENT building regs so would need to have hard wired smoke alarms/heat detectors/floor insulation/etc. 

    Our solicitor said the buyers should accept an indemnity policy but that’s all down to the buyers and their solicitor. 

    HOWEVER, I genuinely think you’ll struggle with selling it you put a polycarb roof back on with it being opened up to the back of the house. As you’ll know, those roofs are damn noisy when it rains and really bad at thermal insulation. 
    Thanks. Hmm, that was my worry. What happened with your buyer in the end?

    Ideally it would have a proper roof on it, but I need to sell fairly sharpish, and I know it will be a headache / costly (architect drawings, planning, builders, building regs, etc). Not to mention there's a hole in the roof still with a bucket under, so needs sorting asap. 

    I have no idea when the original work was done - i.e., removing ground floor dormer wall / putting in RSJ, and extending sideways, which will make it harder to even regularise it. Must be common though, because a few houses on this street have had this done at some point in the past.

    Round my way, people wait until they have building regs sign off before knocking out offending walls. Though they wouldn’t leave a polycarbonate roof. When it comes to sale they provide the building regs certificate for the extension they had done in year X. 
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  • gazfocus
    gazfocus Posts: 2,362
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    Section62 said:
    gazfocus said:
    AIEmpire said:
    gazfocus said:




    I wouldn’t worry too much about not having building regs. You should be able to argue that the structure is clearly safe if it’s not showing signs of movement in over 25 years

    Also the advice you were given in your anonymous enquiry was wrong.  Retrospective approval (regularisation) is based on the regulations that were in force at the time the work was completed, not the current regs.  So if they weren't required when your conservatory was done then you wouldn't need to add hard wired smoke alarms/heat detectors/floor insulation/etc just for the purposes of regularisation.

    Wanting an indemnity policy meant you couldn't have a free and frank conversation with building control which would have led to you finding out that regularisation was easier than you thought, and with regularisation the buyer's solicitor would (presumably) have been satisfied, and perhaps a completed sale the first time round.  Indemnity policies aren't always the miracle cure, they can also be the cause of problems.
    I can only go on what I was told by the building control person I spoke to. I was open to getting the regularisation if it meant the sale progressing, though as I say, I was told that building control wouldn't be willing to come and assess 'just the opening'. They wanted thermal calculations and hard wired smoke alarms, etc. I was even prepared to take the plaster off the wall so the inspector could see the steel that was used (even though I had photos of the steel in place) but that wasn't sufficient. Maybe it's just the particular inspector I spoke to and maybe they're not all the same...who knows.
  • AIEmpire
    AIEmpire Posts: 9
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    gwynlas said:
    From your description I am unclear whether you have a conservatory or a side return extension given that a RSJ was installed.Corrugated plastic sheeting was widely used in the past whereas we are used to more sophisticated double glazed roofing now. Would it be possible for a like for like repair to be done? The house would be valued as is and new buyer would be expecting to replace roof anyway.
    Here is my very technical diagram.


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