05 May 2023

We have all seen those programmes where television presenters swoosh into a property and revamp it within a matter of days making the whole process of refurbishing a tired property look easy. The reality is that such projects may need substantial forward planning to get the paperwork and regulatory compliance in order. Failure to do so may come back to bite you when you come to sell the property if you cannot show that you have obtained the relevant consents and certificates.

Below is a checklist for some of the matters that you may need to consider prior to engaging contractors and carrying out any alterations to your property:-

1. Listed Building Consent: Listed Building Consent is a requirement for works of demolition, alteration or extension that affects the character or appearance of the interior or exterior of a listed building, including work to any buildings within the curtilage of the listing building and its boundary walls, fences and gates in some cases, depending on the nature of the listing. Application for Listed Building Consent should be made to the local planning authority. It is a criminal offence not to seek Listed Building Consent when it is required.

2. Planning Consent: Consider if Planning Consent is required. Before carrying out works or additions and extensions consider: -

  • do the works being carried out meet the statutory definition of ‘development’ set out in Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990? If they include structural alterations, construction and rebuilding, material change of use of land, of buildings, groundworks and extensions then planning consent may be required. It may be harder to obtain planning consent if the property is in a designated Conservation Area or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • will development be permitted under Permitted Development Rights? To receive formal confirmation the planned works are within Permitted Development Rights, an application can be made to the local planning authority for a Certificate of Lawful Development. In some areas there are restrictions on these rights so it is always better to check formally that the work falls within the permitted rights.

3. Party Wall Act Notices: Party Wall Act Notices many need to be served if the work involves excavation close to a party wall with a neighbour or work to a party wall.

4. Building Regulations Consent: Building Regulations Consent (and completion certificate for the work carried out) is likely to be required if you intend to carry out any structural work or alterations to your home including alterations to the plumbing or drainage system. Once the work is completed, ensure the Completion Certificate is issued and kept safely as this is required on a future sale.

In some cases, certified competent persons carrying out the work can self-certify their works for compliance rather than needing building regulation consent. You should ensure that the contractors carrying out the works have the appropriate capacity to self-certify the works and to ensure that all works that they are carrying out are covered.

Some contractors are only able to supply certificates for part of the work that they carry out so other work may still need building regulation approval. Works that can be certified by a certified competent person under a registered scheme include work carried out for:-

  • Gas or oil boiler installation
  • Electrical Installations
  • Glass doors and windows and roof lights.
  • Heating and hot water systems
  • Plumbing & Water Supply.
  • Replacement of roof coverings on pitched and flat roofs
  • Cavity Wall installation.
  • Air Conditioning Systems.

Click here for details of the schemes available for particular types of work being carried out. 

5. Lease provisions: For any flat / or Leasehold property, check the lease provisions in order to see whether any landlord or management company consent is required for any alterations. You may need consent even for quite minor alterations and some, such as replacing carpets with laminate floors may be prohibited.

6. Restrictive Covenants: You should check the title deeds to your property in order to verify whether the carrying out of any alterations to your property require the consent of any third person. Typically these would be alterations to the external appearance of the property, any extension to the property or additional structure or any change of use of the property.

7. Estate Management Schemes: Any property which is subject to an Estate Management Scheme may need the consent of the holder of that scheme for any alterations which alter the exterior of the property in any way whatsoever. Such schemes are typical in certain areas of prime London but also exist in other parts of the country.

8. Documentation: Whenever works need certificates or consents, as referred to above, or documentation such as guarantees are being issued for the work, it is important to obtain copies of each of these certificates, approvals and guarantees as these will be required by buyers and their lenders on a future sale of the property.

How can Burges Salmon help?

Our residential real estate lawyers are experts in advising clients looking to acquire, sell or invest in high net-worth residential property in England and Wales. If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, please contact Zoe Longman.

Key contact

Zoe Longman

Zoë Longman Director

  • Head of Residential Real Estate
  • Real Estate
  • Bona Vacantia and Escheat

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