I am amazed at the blinkered approach most
homeowners have to completing building works without the required council
consent. They just bury their heads in the sand and think that it will not
be exposed - HOW WRONG MOST HOMEOWNERS ARE.
They seem to forget that most purchasers
surveyors just love it when they are able to expose any illegal building
works that may assist the purchaser in pulling out of the sale (strange
I here you say) - you see they get paid for their survey report irrespective
of the homes condition and by exposing illegal building works they obtain
a 'get out of jail free card' - in other words, the purchaser is likely
to pull out of the sale and not rely on the contents of the survey and thereby
the surveyor reduces their exposure to negligent claims from the purchaser
when some other form of defect may be discovered later on.
Not only this, but illegal building works
also exposes the homeowner to clever purchasers who then use this aspect
to literally blackmail the homeowner into accepting a vastly reduced offer
price. If you have already invested in reciprocal professional fees,
moving costs and other commitments you suddenly become what the trade
calls a 'motivated purchaser' and likely to accept a far lower offer
due to your personal commitments and desires.
You are then faced with a panic - to resolve
the situation by applying for retrospective consents which will have a financial
cost and loss of time implication thereby at high risk of losing your current
HOWEVER, all that said - we do need to place
a little perspective on the situation for some balance. Firstly it
is perhaps a bit unfair to call the works 'illegal'. A better term would
be 'un-approved' - remember this is not criminal legislation we are dealing
Also, there is a time element that affects the
seriousness of the breach of control. Generally speaking, if the works
have been completed for 4 years or longer then the Planning Department cannot
normally insist on a retrospective permission or require the works to be
removed. Building Control on the other hand have a shorter period for compliance
which is normally two years. After this time (and provided the works
are not an obvious risk to health and safety) they can only normally make
a note within your property file. They are normally unable to insist that
the works are retrospectively approved after this time.
As a guide, if you fall into this category,
the longer the un-approved works have been in place, the easier it is for
surveyors and purchasers to accept the works 'as is' without too much
detriment to the properties value. The reason for this is clear -
someone has to take a view that the works are not going to be removed
or fall apart after a period of time.
Most people are surprised to find that both
the Planning Department and the Building Control Department have formal
applications to regularise the un-approved building works. The risk for
the homeowner is how much more works are required to the property to
make it comply. Often building works have to be demolished and reinstalled
to the approved standard.
Therefore, any homeowner fully aware that
they have completed un-approved building works and soon to move home should
now put into action a 'regularisation plan' to avoid the 'eleventh
hour' panic described above. Seeking early professional advice and guidance
from a professional Building Designer or surveyor should be your first port
of call rather than approaching the council direct.
Have a great Christmas
and make sure your residential development plans for 2005 are 'well engineered'
and 'risk assessed' before you submit your scheme for approval. Have a prosperous
Our 'Maximum Build
Planning Guide' explains further the issues involved when
installing un-approved building works.
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