Renovation projects are both exciting and challenging. But what exactly can you do without planning permission, and is it safe to do it yourself?
Trying to figure out which projects you can do without planning permission can be a bit of a minefield, but don’t panic. As a rule of thumb, most structural changes are subject to building regulations, but some ‘bigger’ renovation projects can be done without planning permission if you adhere to the set size regulations.
Whether you’re building a new structure or making changes to an existing one, you’ll most likely need to submit an architectural drawing of the proposed project and get approval from the local authorities. To clear up the confusion, Comparethemarket.com have teamed up with a range of experts to create a tool that helps you work out which projects require planning permission and what to leave to the professionals.
To be on the safe side, leave any hard wiring and installations to a certified professional. However, if you’re plugging into a socket or wiring into a spur, this can normally be done by any competent amateur. For all other electrical work, you should get it carried out by a trader approved through an appropriate scheme, such as NICEIC.
Chris King, Head of Home at Comparethemarket.com, cautions:
“Anything involving gas is generally best left to certified engineers due to the significant damage which could be caused if you get it wrong.”
Here are five renovations you can do without planning permission.
Adding a porch
You don’t need to apply for planning permission when building a porch if it’s no more than 3 metres above ground level and if the ground floor doesn’t exceed 3 square metres. You also have to make sure that no part of the porch is within 2 metres of any boundary of the house or a highway.
However, if you take the front door of the property out the porch, the porch becomes part of the property and would be subject to building regulations and possibly planning permission.
Adding a conservatory
Planning permissions are not necessary when building a conservatory if you adhere to the strict size regulations. The conservatory should cover less than half of the land surrounding the home, and should not be higher than the highest point of the roof. If the property is a single storey, make sure the conservatory is no higher than 4 metres.
Adding a shed or summer house
Building regulations do not normally apply to outbuildings, such as an outdoors office or summer house, if the floor area of the building is less than 15 square metres and the building is not used for sleeping. The same rules apply to sheds, greenhouses and garages.
However, if the building is between 15 and 30 square metres and doesn’t contain sleeping accommodation, you could get away with no planning permission. To make sure you get it right, it’s always best to check each individual project with the local authorities as architectural drawings may need to be submitted.
Adding a loft conversion
Unless you live in a designated area, like a national park or World Heritage Sites, loft conversions do not need planning permission as long as the conversion is no higher than the highest part of the roof and made in a similar material to the rest of the house.
If you live in a terraced house, the conversion has a volume allowance of 40 cubic metres of additional roof space or 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses. Make sure the roof enlargement doesn’t overhang the outer face of the wall of the original house.
Putting up a fence
You will only need planning permission to put up a fence if it’s over 1 metre high next to any highway used by vehicles or the footpath or if it’s over 2 metres high elsewhere. You would also need planning permission if your house is a listed building or in the curtilage of a listed building or if the fence, wall or gate, or any other boundary involved, forms a boundary with a neighbouring listed building or its curtilage.
Need to take down a fence?
No planning permission is needed, unless the fence is in a conservation area.
However, just because you don’t need planning permission does not mean you should not be careful who you trust to do work on your property. Make sure you are working with a trusted builder and ask for samples of their previous work.
Barry builder, Precision Construction, say that genuine builders don’t mind being asked about their previous work:
“We welcome clients asking. It shows that the client is interested in working with someone who offers quality workmanship, we work in the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff on some very prestigious properties and we are proud to show off our previous work. I’d steer clear of anyone who couldn’t show a portfolio or who got upset at being asked for referrals.”
Chris King warns homeowners about the possible consequences of not doing enough research on your builders:
“Make sure you’ve checked their reputation and they have the right liability insurance in place should they damage your property. Most home insurance policies don’t cover poor or faulty workmanship so if the work carried out is poor or unfinished, it’s likely your home insurance wouldn’t be able to step in and come to the rescue.”