If you are thinking of renovating your property it likely that you would like to improve your living space and add value to your home. Planning permission is the consent from your local planning authority to allow extensive changes to your house, and the system has been put in place to ensure that all major development is safe and appropriate.
The regulations around planning permission are broadly the same across England and Wales, but there are variations depending on where you live, so it is important to check the planning rules before starting any renovation work. This is particularly important if you live in a listed building, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or in a National Park, all of which have stricter planning rules and often require planning permission for more minor developments.
Ways to Improve Your Home Without Planning Permission
There are a number of different that you can do to improve your living space, some which do not require planning permission. Renovations that don’t require local authority consent are called ‘permitted development’ and include:
- Installing or replacing windows and doors throughout your property.
- Renovating your kitchen and bathroom.
- Incorporating an integral garage into the main house space.
- Building a single storey conservatory no higher than 3 metres high.
- Building a loft conversion with dormer windows no higher than the roof slope.
- Adding a two-story extension to the rear of the property, no more than 3 metres in depth.
- Building a basement conversion, as long as no engineering works are required.
- Building an outbuilding, as long as it is not used as a separate residence.
- Building a porch at the front of your home.
- Constructing decking less than 30cm from the ground.
- Building a swimming pool that is no larger than 50% of the area surrounding your house.
- Adding solar panels to your roof, as long as they do not project 20cm from the roof slope.
Make a Big Difference to Your Living Space
Updating rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom of your home can make a big difference to your living conditions, as well as adding value and appeal to your home. If you are trying to sell your home, it can also be important to replace any windows and doors that have become damaged or rotten. You can usually replace these without planning permission, but if you live in a listed building or conservation area you may have obtain planning permission and replace these fixtures like for like so that you don’t change the overall look of the building.
Check the Building Regulations
With any renovation project that you decide to undertake it will be important to check the building regulations associated with it. The building regulations are there to make sure that the finished work is structurally sound, complies with energy conservation laws and is safe to use. This is particularly important in renovation work that changes the weight that is placed on load-bearing walls and upper floors, such as when removing internal walls or creating a loft conversion. For example, if you remove an internal wall to create an open-plan living area, this could affect the structural integrity of the house, so you will need to take that into account in your renovation plans.
Building a Conservatory or Outbuilding
If you are planning to create a conservatory or erect an outbuilding at the back of your home you will have to ensure that it is at least 2 metres from the property boundary and that it is built from fire safe materials. You will be unable to build an outbuilding or extend your home towards the front, including the addition of a veranda, balcony or raised platform without planning permission.
Obtaining Planning Permission
If your renovation does require planning permission, you should find out as much about the relevant building regulations and planning rules as you can before you make an application to the local planning authority. Once you have a good idea about what you are planning to do, you should speak to your neighbours about your plans, as they are likely to be concerned about developments that might affect them. Any renovations should be in keeping with the design and building materials used in your property and should take into account fire safety, environmental health and any nature and wildlife in the area. When you are ready, you can apply online for planning permission.
Getting Additional Insurance
If your planning renovation work does not require planning permission, it is unlikely that you will need additional building insurance. However, if you are undertaking building work that will involve changes to the foundations, structure or load-bearing walls, you should obtain insurance that covers the work that will be done. This will give you some protection in the (hopefully unlikely) case of shoddy workmanship.
Planning Rules for Flats and Maisonettes
The rules for ‘permitted developments’ for houses are different than those for flats and maisonettes. In many cases where a renovation is permitted without planning permission in a house, the owner of a flat or maisonette will have to apply for planning permission. This means that changing the windows of a flat may require planning permission, as will extending a ground floor flat into the garden, or even (in some cases) installing a satellite dish. You will have to contact your local planning authority to check what will be permitted in you area. If you are a leaseholder, you may also have to get the permission of the owner of the freehold before you can carry out renovation in your flat.
If you plan to convert a house into separate flats, planning permission will be required even if this does not substantially change the exterior of the building. However, it may be possible to convert a space above a shop into flats without planning permission, as long as this space is not already classified as an office or shop and you will not change the exterior appearance of the building.
It is very important that you know the planning rules and adhere to them, because carrying out renovation work without the required local authority permission is a criminal offence.