Guides & Information

» Rules and Regulations

[Top»] Can I do what I want?

You'd be mistaken if you thought you could do what you like within your boundaries. Before considering having any work to the outside of your home, check your deeds. They may, for example, state that the front garden must be kept open or that fences aren't allowed. If you have doubts as to where your boundaries lie, check with the local Land Registry office.

Keeping on good terms with neighbours is vital if your work spills on to their land. Services such as drainage, pipework and wiring may also run under a public road, and you may need to deal with the council or water or electricity supplier.

You are responsible if something falls from your property, for example a roof tile, causes damage or injury to passers-by or neighbours. Keeping your property in good order is essential.

[Top»] Planning Permission Explained

Whether you are planning to extend up, out or down, it is always best to check with your local Council's planning department as to whether you need planning permission before embarking on any kind of building project.

  • You are allowed to make certain minor alterations and extensions to your home without applying for planning permission, under permitted development rights.
  • If planning permission is required, ask for an application form, find out how many copies of the form you will need to return, and what the application fee will be.
  • Ask the planners if they anticipate any difficulties that could be overcome by amending your proposal at an early stage. Changes later could increase the cost of your professional fees.
  • Decide what type of application to make. Usually this will be a full planning application, but if you want to see what the Council feels about your proposed work before investing in detailed drawings you may choose to submit an outline application first.
  • Your application should be considered within eight weeks.
  • If planning permission is refused or conditions imposed, the Council must give reasons. Ask the planning department if changing your plans would make a difference. You may be allowed to submit another application with modified plans, free of charge, within twelve months of the original decision.
  • You also have the right of appeal to the Planning lnspectorate within six months of the date of the Council's notice of decision.
  • If you build something that requires planning permission without first obtaining permission, you may be forced to put things right later at your own cost. You may even be required to remove an unauthorised building.
    Further information is available at or request The Planning Inspectorate's free booklet Planning, a Guide for Householders by phoning 0870 1226 236.

[Top»] Building Regulations Explained

Whether or not planning permission is required, anyone wanting to carry out building work is required by law to make sure it complies with the relevant Building Regulations. These are designed to ensure that the finished building is both safe, healthy and energy efficient.

  • Any project that involves extending or altering the structure of the building, or providing services, such as WCs, showers, sinks, hot water cylinders, gas appliances, ventilation, electrical installations and new windows is likely to be subject to the Building Regulations.
  • Although a conservatory may not be subject to Building Regulations, you must ensure that it does not restrict ladder access to windows serving a room in the roof intended as a means of escape if there is a fire.
  • The primary responsibility for compliance rests with the person carrying out the building work. If you employ a builder, the responsibility will usually be theirs – but make sure you check.
  • If the work doesn't comply, the owner of the building may be served with the enforcement notice, so it is important to choose your builder carefully.
  • Your local Council's building control department will tell you whether you need Building Regulations approval and how to apply.
  • There are two means of application - a Full Plans application or the Building Notice procedure. Both require the payment of the appropriate fee. An additional inspection charge is made on a Full Plans application.
  • A Full Plans application will be checked by building control officers and you will receive written confirmation from the Council that the work planned meets the Building Regulations.
  • The Building Notice procedure is designed to enable you to start work quickly. Work can start on site two working days after submitting the notice.
  • Throughout the build you, or your builder, must notify building control as work reaches certain stages so that it can be inspected. If you don’t, the building control officer can ask for the work to be uncovered.
  • On a Full Plans application, providing the work is satisfactory, a completion certificate should be issued. There is no requirement for the Council to do this under the Building Notice procedure.

For more information, contact your local Council for a free explanatory booklet, Building Regulations, or download it from

[Top»] Converting unused space

Loft conversions offer a convenient way to add an extra bedroom, bathroom or office. The easiest way to tell if your loft is suitable for conversion is to see if you can stand upright at its highest point, as this needs to be 2.3 metres. It is certainly a cheaper option of adding an extra space upwards rather that outwards.

Basement conversions are becoming more popular in urban areas, where land is at a premium, but should not be undertaken lightly. The specialist work involved to create a space that is waterproof, well ventilated and well lit, makes them much more expensive that loft conversions.

If your garage is only used as a junk store, ask yourself if it would be better used as habitable space. You will have to upgrade the structure to meet current Building Regulations covering efficiency, damp-proofing and ventilation. If the conversion involves building on top of the garage, the foundations will need to be checked to show that can take the extra load.