PROPERTY: Don’t fall foul of planning laws

McAndrew Martin director Ian Lee of Portsmouth based chartered surveyors McAndrew Martin PPP-160205-142054001
McAndrew Martin director Ian Lee of Portsmouth based chartered surveyors McAndrew Martin PPP-160205-142054001
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By McAndrew Martin director IAN LEE

While they proceed to tell me about all the trials and tribulations of knocking down the wall to create ‘open plan living’ or removal of a feature to create more floor space, my mind starts to work overtime.

It is at this point that I usually stop them in mid-flow and ask such questions as: ‘Did you get planning consent or obtain Building Regulation approval?’

Very often the answer is a resounding ‘No, we didn’t need to’. Or so they thought…

Whether they’ve tackled a home improvement project from a ‘how to’ clip on You Tube, roped in a mate ‘who knows a bit about building’ or contracted the finest construction firm in the south, consent of some kind or another may well be needed.

This consent from the local planning authority – i.e. the council – is especially important when it comes to buying and selling a property.

We surveyors, by our very nature, are a cautious bunch. As a result, your mortgage valuation or survey report will carry a clause along the lines of ‘your solicitor should confirm to you in writing before exchange of contracts that all the necessary statutory approvals were obtained and complied with in connection with the removal of the chimney breast/dining room wall, etc...’.

If these consents have not been obtained then not only can it slow down the sale process while they are resolved, it may actually lose you the sale and, in turn, your future dream home. It really is not worth the risk!

If you are contemplating any home improvements or substantial DIY then a call or e-mail to the planning authority is to be recommended to clarify the consents needed, if any.

Make sure you keep a record of correspondence and all planning and Building Regulation approvals so that when you do decide to sell all the paperwork is in order and readily to hand.

Your surveyor and certainly the buyer’s solicitor will need to see a copy.

In a worst case scenario you may inadvertently render your property unsuitable for mortgage lending.

Make sure you choose a local experienced property professional to guide you through this process.

If you select someone local not only will they be aware of the type of construction of homes in the area and possible problems, they will also be better equipped to deal with all the local authorities.

Ideally make sure that your property professional is a member of the Portsmouth Property Association (PPA).