Look before you leap into home improvements


Thinking of tackling those large home improvement jobs during the holidays? You’re not alone.

Nearly a third of UK homeowners will carry out work on their home in the next three years with up to £6 billion in projected works planned over the next three years.

According to a study from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) over a million homeowners (1,050,000) are looking to build extra space to accommodate grown up children who can’t afford to leave home.

With almost 40% of those home improvements set to be major refurbishments, including new kitchens and home extensions, our legal team would like to issue a word of caution before you lay the first brick, that despite a relaxation in planning rules householders still need to make some basic legal checks first.

Catherine Whittles, a partner here at Bowcock & Pursaill, said: “Over the years amendments to The Town and Country Planning Order have meant that permitted development rights have been extended for home owners.

Permitted development rights are a national grant of planning permission which allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without having to make a planning application.

“But there are limitations, for example properties within conservation areas or National Parks, where stricter rules apply for planning.

“Other things to check before starting improvements include making sure your home is not listed, that your title deeds don’t contain any covenants which require you to obtain third party consent, and whether your project could impact on a neighbouring property.”

Even if a project doesn’t need planning permission, certain work will require building regulation approval, including replacing a fuse box, windows or doors, adding extra radiators, replacing a heating system or changing electrics near a bath or shower.

“With these factors in mind, it makes sense to contact your local planning authority and discuss your proposal before any work begins. Fail to do that and you may struggle when it comes to sell your home or even change your mortgage.

“They can inform you of any reason why the development may not be permitted, and whether you need to apply for planning permission for all or part of the work.”

Other top tips before you start any works:

  • Check references when choosing a builder.
  • Make sure you have a written contract with your builder which states clearly what they will do if something unexpected crops up while carrying out the work.
  • Check your builder has insurance for their work and will provide you with any necessary guarantees and warranties for their work.
  • Consider taking legal advice before undertaking large projects.
  • Talk to local authority building inspectors for informal guidance on local tradesmen.


Need some legal advice on your home improvement project? Contact us today by calling 01538 399199 or email info@bowcockpursaill.co.uk

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