We bought a house eight years ago which had been extended five years earlier with a small utility room to the side. We are now selling up, but have been told we need to provide building regulation approval for the extension which we’ve discovered it never had. What should we do?
Up until the turn of this century it had been an unwritten rule that local authorities would not carry out enforcement action against householders who failed to obtain building regulation approval for small alterations and additions which had been in existence for at least 12 months.
However, this all changed following a decision in a case which ruled that local authorities could take enforcement action where building regulation approval had not been obtained – and that such action could be taken for an indefinite period.
So now when it comes to selling a house, whatever alteration has been made to the property, the buyer’s solicitor will want to know whether there have been any alterations whatsoever and, if so, want to see either the appropriate building regulation approval or, in its absence, require the seller to provide an insurance indemnity policy (for which you could expect to pay on average between £75 and £150 depending on the value of the property). This will and does affect a large percentage of the home-owning population as there are very few properties that have not been altered, extended or added to in one way or other.
For anyone who bought before the year 2000 this is particularly galling as they would not necessarily have insisted on a policy in the absence of such consent when they made their original purchase – yet when they come to sell they now find themselves having to provide their buyer with such a policy to cover an alteration that they had not even constructed themselves, and having to fund the cost of such a policy to cover the lack of approval for an alteration carried out by a previous owner.
* Emyr Pierce is Managing Director of Emyr Pierce Solicitors in Rhiwbina, Cardiff, Western Mail Conveyancer of the Year, specialising in Domestic and Commercial Property. Contact www.emyrpierce.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org