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    • massilia13
    • By massilia13 17th May 19, 3:30 PM
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    massilia13
    Loft conversion without planning permission and BR
    • #1
    • 17th May 19, 3:30 PM
    Loft conversion without planning permission and BR 17th May 19 at 3:30 PM
    Hi everyone,
    We are in the process of buying a property and we have just found out that the loft conversion (into a bedroom) was done without planning permission nor building regulations. This work was done probably over 25 years ago (windows are dated 1993) well before the current owners moved in.
    I asked my solicitors if this bedroom would still be considered fit for purpose and they confirmed, verbally, that it would. I find it difficult to believe. I would not want to pay for the price of a 3 bedrooms bungalow and selling it as 2 beds one in the future. Unsure if an estate agent can market a property as a 3-bedroom bungalow if it turns out that one of the bedroom was a loft conversion without planning permission granted and building regulations approved? Could the use of the room as the bedroom for over 25 years change anything about it? I have read things about the 4 / 10 years rule, but I don’t think this could apply here.

    Any thoughts?


    We would also have all sort of other issues:
    Risk of law enforcement by the Council (even if it is very unlikely)
    We can’t guarantee the structure is adequate / the extension meets building regs
    Could affect our mortgage
    Insurance company could refuse to pay out under building insurance policy
    Could impact the selling price as future buyer might not be prepared to take the risk

    Our options so farm if we wish to proceed, seem to be taking an indemnity insurance (not too keen on it as it doe not cover much) or to get a certificate of regularisation from the seller (if built after 1985 which is unlikely) which consist in an intrusive very long and complex work which is very likely to be refused.

    Can you see any other options?
Page 1
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 17th May 19, 3:41 PM
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    davidmcn
    • #2
    • 17th May 19, 3:41 PM
    • #2
    • 17th May 19, 3:41 PM
    After 25+ years the lack of paperwork is irrelevant. It is what it is - satisfy yourself on its structure etc via your survey (in the same way that you are for the remainder of the house - and do you have planning and building regulations for the original construction of the house?).
    • theGrinch
    • By theGrinch 17th May 19, 3:58 PM
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    theGrinch
    • #3
    • 17th May 19, 3:58 PM
    • #3
    • 17th May 19, 3:58 PM
    when you come to sell, the buyers will ask the same questions
    "enough is a feast"...old Buddist proverb
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 17th May 19, 4:11 PM
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    davidmcn
    • #4
    • 17th May 19, 4:11 PM
    • #4
    • 17th May 19, 4:11 PM
    when you come to sell, the buyers will ask the same questions
    Originally posted by theGrinch
    But will hopefully be better-informed. And the works will be even more historic by then.
    • massilia13
    • By massilia13 17th May 19, 4:53 PM
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    massilia13
    • #5
    • 17th May 19, 4:53 PM
    • #5
    • 17th May 19, 4:53 PM
    Thanks for your replies

    The property had other extensions and a conservatory done with all relevant planning permission and building regulation. I also found the original plan of the house with all the relevant paperwork with it.

    My main 3 priorities are
    To make sure this is 'lawfully' a 3 beds bungalow (unsure how I can do that)
    Ensure the loft conversion is safe (structure adequate...) with a thorough building survey
    Negotiate the price to avoid losing money when I sale
    • MovingForwards
    • By MovingForwards 17th May 19, 5:46 PM
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    MovingForwards
    • #6
    • 17th May 19, 5:46 PM
    • #6
    • 17th May 19, 5:46 PM
    To make sure this is 'lawfully' a 3 beds bungalow (unsure how I can do that)
    Well, ensure there are the correct stairs and alternative exit through the window in case of a fire etc

    Ensure the loft conversion is safe (structure adequate...) with a thorough building survey

    Just get an independent structural surveyor in and ask him / her to pay particular attention to the loft conversion.

    Negotiate the price to avoid losing money when I sale

    How do you know how much you are selling it for? If prices rise will you give the seller some money back? It's standard to negotiate when making an offer and receiving any reports from your independent surveyors and your mortgage company's survey.
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 17th May 19, 6:11 PM
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    davidmcn
    • #7
    • 17th May 19, 6:11 PM
    • #7
    • 17th May 19, 6:11 PM
    To make sure this is 'lawfully' a 3 beds bungalow (unsure how I can do that)
    Originally posted by massilia13
    What law(s) do you think don't make a 3 bed bungalow? You've had legal advice from your solicitor and I'd be inclined to agree with them. Works only need to be compliant with the building regulations which applied when they were carried out - it's not realistic (or maybe impossible) for something to be retrospectively certified as complying with the version of building regulations from 30ish years ago. And it may well never have needed planning permission - it certainly doesn't now.
    • massilia13
    • By massilia13 17th May 19, 7:07 PM
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    massilia13
    • #8
    • 17th May 19, 7:07 PM
    • #8
    • 17th May 19, 7:07 PM
    I don't think an estate agent can advertise a 3 bedroom property if one bedroom is missing planning permission and building regulations.

    You can get a certificate of regularisation but you are correct building regs 25 years ago and now are not exactly the same standard and it could open a can of worms
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 17th May 19, 7:26 PM
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    davidmcn
    • #9
    • 17th May 19, 7:26 PM
    • #9
    • 17th May 19, 7:26 PM
    I don't think an estate agent can advertise a 3 bedroom property if one bedroom is missing planning permission and building regulations.
    Originally posted by massilia13
    I'm not aware of a law which prohibits them from doing so. Can you point us towards one?

    Let's bring lofts out of the equation - if it were, say, a single storey 1970s extension containing the kitchen and bathroom, and it didn't have paperwork, do you think everybody would have to pretend the house didn't have a kitchen or bathroom?

    You can get a certificate of regularisation but you are correct building regs 25 years ago and now are not exactly the same standard and it could open a can of worms
    You can get them to regularise something done relatively recently, but not sure how building control would regularise something from decades ago (without bringing colleagues out of retirement who might remember what the regulations said!).
    • massilia13
    • By massilia13 17th May 19, 9:04 PM
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    massilia13
    From samconveyancing solicitor website:

    "If an additional bedroom has been added but hasn't had building building control sign off, then it cannot be marketed as having the additional room. You can only market a property with having 3 bedrooms if all 3 bedrooms have planning permission and building control sign off.
    You should speak to the selling estate agent and inform them if they are incorrectly selling a property with more bedrooms than it legally has."

    You can get a letter of regularisation for an unauthorised work that has been carried out on or after 11th Nov 1985. They basically make an intrusive work inspection which should comply with today's building regulations. Not an easy job, certainly not ideal.
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 17th May 19, 9:20 PM
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    davidmcn
    From samconveyancing solicitor website:

    "If an additional bedroom has been added but hasn't had building building control sign off, then it cannot be marketed as having the additional room. You can only market a property with having 3 bedrooms if all 3 bedrooms have planning permission and building control sign off.
    You should speak to the selling estate agent and inform them if they are incorrectly selling a property with more bedrooms than it legally has."
    Originally posted by massilia13
    None of which tells us the legal basis for that statement, which contradicts both your own solicitor's opinion and my own. And it's obviously nonsense if we're talking about works which never required planning permission in the first place.

    I suggest you discuss with your solicitor if you're unsure about the position.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 17th May 19, 9:29 PM
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    Doozergirl
    From samconveyancing solicitor website:

    "If an additional bedroom has been added but hasn't had building building control sign off, then it cannot be marketed as having the additional room. You can only market a property with having 3 bedrooms if all 3 bedrooms have planning permission and building control sign off.
    You should speak to the selling estate agent and inform them if they are incorrectly selling a property with more bedrooms than it legally has."
    Originally posted by massilia13
    Utter, utter rubbish.

    Davidmcn's comments about the 1970s extension apply. In fact, most houses themselves don't have records building control sign off but solicitors aren't interested in those. Does that mean they're not legally houses?

    As said, still no law quoted. There's no such thing as 'legal' number of bedrooms. People can sell whatever they want to whomever they want. There is, however, such a thing as a number of safe rooms.

    Have a good survey and satisfy yourselves that it is safe. That is all.

    Edit: There's many inaccuracies around building work on the blog pages of the site you referred to. I don't know where they got their information from.
    Last edited by Doozergirl; 17-05-2019 at 9:35 PM.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • phillw
    • By phillw 17th May 19, 10:03 PM
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    phillw
    AFAIK if you don't have a loft conversion signed off you shouldn't sell it, buy you should insure it. As for specific laws I would say it would be misrepresentation if they didn't disclose up front that it didn't have building regs. It probably would also be misrepresentation if you don't inform your mortgage lender
    • massilia13
    • By massilia13 18th May 19, 7:43 AM
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    massilia13
    Thanks for you replies,

    So I should follow my solicitor's advice and carry on with my building survey, without worrying too much about the status of this bedroom.

    What do you think about taking on a building regulation indemnity insurance on the seller expense?

    I have read on the legislation.gov.uk website that under the section 36 (4) of the 1984 building act that "A notice under subsection (1) or (2) (called a “section 36 notice”) shall not be given after the expiration of 12 months from the date of the completion of the work in question."

    This should cover, the very unlikely risk of law enforcement by the council.
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 18th May 19, 8:44 AM
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    davidmcn
    What do you think about taking on a building regulation indemnity insurance on the seller expense?
    Originally posted by massilia13
    Bit of a waste of time and money, other than meaning that you'd then have it available if it keeps a future buyer or lender happy. They're relatively cheap (because the risk is almost non-existent, even more so in your case).
    • kinger101
    • By kinger101 18th May 19, 8:51 AM
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    kinger101
    Many estate agent will not market such a conversion as a bedroom

    https://thenegotiator.co.uk/30220-2/
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 18th May 19, 10:30 AM
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    Doozergirl
    Many estate agent will not market such a conversion as a bedroom

    https://thenegotiator.co.uk/30220-2/
    Originally posted by kinger101
    Just goes to show how much even apparent property experts know about the difference between planning and building control.

    A lack of building control approval cannot mean that a room is not a room. In theory, a room could exceed Building regulations but have no certificate. Most houses themselves have no certificates. Why are there no similar questions about bedrooms in extensions with no certificate? Lofts are singled out. It might be prudent for the agent to reduce the number of rooms to avoid being dragged to the Ombudsman, but the reality is that one has to check the whole house out, not just individual rooms.

    I understand that a poor loft conversion where no structural work has been undertaken is no excuse for a room, but the lack of a certificate cannot be the measure, because by that measure you'd need to apply the rule across every part of every building. What about conversions pre the 1984 Act? Are they just 'rooms' regardless of actual safety?

    What has to be the test is quality. It might be that someone should check the structural quality of rooms without a certificate before sale - but where does that end under our current system? You'd end up with the full survey done beforehand (I have no real issue with that).

    Just waffling now. There's no real excuse for not having anything approved at the time. It's just not cut and dry.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • kinger101
    • By kinger101 18th May 19, 12:28 PM
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    kinger101
    Just goes to show how much even apparent property experts know about the difference between planning and building control.

    A lack of building control approval cannot mean that a room is not a room. In theory, a room could exceed Building regulations but have no certificate. Most houses themselves have no certificates. Why are there no similar questions about bedrooms in extensions with no certificate? Lofts are singled out. It might be prudent for the agent to reduce the number of rooms to avoid being dragged to the Ombudsman, but the reality is that one has to check the whole house out, not just individual rooms.

    I understand that a poor loft conversion where no structural work has been undertaken is no excuse for a room, but the lack of a certificate cannot be the measure, because by that measure you'd need to apply the rule across every part of every building. What about conversions pre the 1984 Act? Are they just 'rooms' regardless of actual safety?

    What has to be the test is quality. It might be that someone should check the structural quality of rooms without a certificate before sale - but where does that end under our current system? You'd end up with the full survey done beforehand (I have no real issue with that).

    Just waffling now. There's no real excuse for not having anything approved at the time. It's just not cut and dry.
    Originally posted by Doozergirl
    The problem is from a resale perspective. Once solicitors, estate agents and surveyors are involved, there's a very high chance on of these will tell a perspective buyer that the converted loft without regulations falls somewhat short of being a habitable room.

    I'd make sure the price I paid for any property reflected the questionable status of the third bedroom.

    I see what you mean about extensions, but I suspect lofts are singled out as there's much greater danger in the event of fire.
    Last edited by kinger101; 18-05-2019 at 12:31 PM.
    • Massilia13
    • By Massilia13 19th May 19, 3:10 PM
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    Massilia13
    That is indeed a problem I would like to avoid!
    • tom9980
    • By tom9980 19th May 19, 4:35 PM
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    tom9980
    That is indeed a problem I would like to avoid!
    Originally posted by Massilia13
    Then buy another property.
    “In order to change, we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
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