When Do I Need Planning Permission and Building Regulations?

There are two times where it is important to know when you need these. Firstly, when you buy a house. You need to be able to look at what work has been done and ask your conveyancer whether or not the relevant planning permissions and/or building regulation sign offs have been given. The other time it is important is when you want to do some work. Either because you are considering buying a house on the basis of making some changes or you want to make alterations on a house you already own. Some jobs that seem relatively small and mundane require more signing off than you’d think.


Why does it really matter?

If you’re buying a house that has already had work done does it matter if these exist? Yes, for 3 reasons.

  1. Safety / Quality – if work has been done that has not been signed off, you don’t know if it has been done well enough. This could mean it is either unsafe (e.g. a chimney breast incorrectly removed) or poorly (e.g. the work will degrade and need upgrading).
  2. Easier to sell – you might be happy to buy without certificates but will the next buyer? Or will you have to get all works retrospectively checked and changed where requested in order to sell your house on?
  3. You may have to pay for changes – if the planning team or building regulations body find out about work and are not satisfied you may have to pay for changes to put things back to how they were before or to make the work satisfactory.


Work covered by building regulations

The Building Regulations 2010 cover the construction and extension of buildings. You might also need building regulations approval for many alteration projects, including if you plan to:

  • replace fuse boxes and connected electrics
  • install a bathroom that will involve plumbing
  • change electrics near a bath or shower
  • put in a fixed air-conditioning system
  • replace windows and doors
  • replace roof coverings on pitched and flat roofs
  • install or replace a heating system
  • add extra radiators to a heating system

This isn’t an exhaustive list – make sure you do research for a particular project you want carried out or if checking into work that has been done on a property you are looking to buy. If unsure you can always get a surveyor to look into these issues as part of a building survey. There may even be certain rules you need to follow if you have a listed building or live in a conservation area. Check with a building control body if you can’t decide if you need approval.


Work covered by planning permission

You’ll probably need planning permission if you want to:

  • build something new
  • make a major change to your building – e.g. building an extension
  • change the use of your building (e.g. from an office to residential)

To find out if your project will need planning permission, contact your local planning authority (LPA).