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24 Aug 2021

What happens if you haven’t obtained permission? – Ask Anna Question of the Week

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Dear Anna

Help! We didn’t realise we needed building regulations permission for work we’ve had done – what can we do?

If you or a previous owner carried out work without obtaining permission, you may be able to apply to have this approved retrospectively in the form of a Regularisation. This is only possible for work carried out on or after 11 November 1985.

You’ll be asked for plans and possibly calculations to show what was done and the work will be inspected. Please be aware that you may be asked to open up various areas of the building so the surveyor can check things that have been covered like beams, pipes, and insulation. If everything appears to meet the regulations that were in place at the time the work was carried out, you’ll receive a Regularisation Certificate.

Building regulations Regularisation certificates can only be obtained from the relevant local authority as private sector Approved Inspectors aren't authorised to undertake this work. The council will charge for the service they provide, and the charge will be higher than the one they would have raised at the time the application should have been made.

Only by making a regularisation application can the applicant find out definitively what is non-compliant with their building works. If remedial work is identified but not undertaken, a Certificate of Regularisation will not be issued.

How does this affect the sale of your property?

Knowing that approval can be given retrospectively might be enough for a buyer to take on the property.

It is the owner’s responsibility to undertake the works to achieve building regulations compliance and it's important to know that this may be made a requirement before your sale can go through.

Are there exemptions?

There are some home renovation works that are exempt from a requirement to make a building control application. Read here to find more about what is on the list of exemptions.

Further information on what happens if there is no approval.

If building regulations approval and certification should have been obtained for building works and no such approval exists, there are potential consequences without a Regularisation.

Under the provisions of Section 36(6), Building Act 1984, the council can seek a High Court injunction to require the alteration or removal of work that doesn't comply if it is deemed dangerous. 

This could be expensive for buyers. The costs of either remedying the issues or removing the offending work can be high. Therefore, some have considered it wise to purchase indemnity insurance to cover such costs, should they arise. The purchase of an insurance indemnity policy may cover the issue for one sale, but it doesn't remove the problem with the property and doesn't mean it is safe.

What about the next time the property is sold? The same situation exists, the same delays may occur, the same threat of action by the local authority remains, no progress has been made, and the vicious circle continues. Applying for a Regularisation certificate is the only viable solution.

Our advice: Make the necessary applications before taking on a home renovation project. Keep up to date with the latest news and advice on the Front Door website to avoid any further hassle when it comes to your property.

Last week’s Ask Anna Question of the Week article: Material Shortages

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