Has anyone applied for building regs retrospectively?

(24 Posts)
Crumblemum Mon 19-Nov-12 21:26:56

Hiya

We're just trying to sell our victorian terrace. It has a ground floor extension (small bathroom) and the wall between living and dining room knocked down (as do many houses around here), the work was done pre 1980 but I don't know more than that and we don't have building reg forms.

Our buyers are very keen but their mortgage company wont release funds unless we get the building regs retrospectively. I'm worried this will be lengthy, costly and hugely disruptive. The survey didn't show any apparent vulnerabilities with either place, but what if council say we have to do x, y and z?

In short - has this happened to anyone and what happened?

Thanks x

TalkinPeace2 Mon 19-Nov-12 21:34:19

interested to know because I'll need to when I eventually come to sell

lalalonglegs Mon 19-Nov-12 22:44:35

I would be very wary of doing this as the building regs will have changed beyond all recognition since the 1980s and building control can only inspect on the basis of the current regs, iyswim.

If the wall between the dining and sitting rooms was load-bearing (and they generally are), you would, at the very least, have to chip off plaster to expose the support so that a structural engineer can calculate if it is sufficient for the opening. The bathroom is very unlikely to have been insulated to the level required now.

Can you not suggest indemnity insurance in --the extremely unlikely- case the council decide to take retrospective action against the work (which they can't if it is more than 10 years old and the house isn't listed or in a conservation area, I believe)?

Crumblemum Tue 20-Nov-12 01:10:53

Thanks Lalalonglegs - exactly what I feared. Everyone seems to know there is no risk of prosecution yet mortgage company have said they'll refuse indemnity. So frustrating as its actually our current mortgage company. My other fear is doing nothing and then getting to this stage with next buyer. sigh. Thanks again.

poppyboo Tue 20-Nov-12 09:41:37

I really feel for you crumblemum there are thousands of houses which will have had dining room knocked through to living room pre-1980 (Meaning no paperwork) and kitchen extension etc.

The rented property I'm in right now has an archway through to the dining room, it was most likely done pre-1980 too so probably no paperwork!

If it makes you feel any better, it must be a nightmare for your buyers too and extremely frustrating!

It must have been flagged up to their mortgage company as an issue, because usually surveyors 'assume' its in place, ask the buyer to get solicitors to check paperwork and then it is up to seller to decide what to do, either go ahead with sale, or go back to mortgage company with problem themselves. Otherwise, how would mortgage company know their is an issue with paperwork unless they have been notified?

If this does all fall through, I think it is best to notify new buyers about the issue before money starts being spent on either side which I know will draw everything out, but I think complete honesty is best. At least it's not an illegal loft conversion...they are the worst!

TalkinPeace2 Tue 20-Nov-12 11:30:13

When I walked away from Building Regs for my house, the chaps from the council admitted that nearly 1/3 of homes in the city do not have building regs sign off.
That tells me that the system is broken, not my house.

In my case, I refused to fit fire doors that would always be left open - no requirement for them to close in a house, just between garage and house.

poppyboo Tue 20-Nov-12 11:34:39

It seems to be a massive problem! I'm house hunting now and I'm finding myself reading details of potential properties thinking 'ummm, I wonder which bit doesn't have building regs...?' It makes it very stressful in terms of resale in the future & the problem coming back just like OP has found.

Crumblemum Tue 20-Nov-12 12:22:57

Well I've had an off the record conversation with the council and even they seemed to be saying (shouting) don't come to us to try and retrospectively do - it will be a problem. They're searching their archive this pm (as the local searches the solicitor has done only go back to 2000) if there's a record their we're OK (please, please let there be a record) but if not, we're back to square 1. Is such a ridiculous system, essentially the mortgage company are saying a 100 year old house is fine (even though they can't see insulation, foundations etc) but that a 40 year extension has to comply with current standards. Is ludicrous (and very frustrating).

Anyhow, thanks for info/ views. I'll keep posting just so other people can see - I can't imagine this is unique!

poppyboo Tue 20-Nov-12 18:17:36

I've sent you a PM crumblemum

MariaMandarin Tue 20-Nov-12 18:28:15

Very interested in this. We are buying a house with a loft conversion done in 1967 so no regs. Had my Dad look at it and it has been done 'properly' ie huge girders supporting the floor, but it hasn't got adequate insulation or a fire door etc. How can I tell if it is, or can be made, officially a bedroom? The estate agents say it is but they're knobs and I don't necessarily believe them. Obviously it affects the value massively.

lalalonglegs Tue 20-Nov-12 18:39:38

Have you had the house surveyed yet? A surveyor should be able to tell you what you need to do to bring it up to scratch, otherwise someone from Building Control might come out.

poppyboo Tue 20-Nov-12 18:41:59

As you know EA are lying! It will be classed as an illegal bedroom and in legal terms not habitual. It should have been advertised to you as a 'loft room' not as a bedroom. If they did that, EA did nothing wrong. But they should not be insisting to you it's a bedroom. Because its not.

The one and only way it can be made an official bedroom is buy bringing it up to building regs yourself and having the council sign off on it to today's standards.

Crumblemum Tue 20-Nov-12 18:51:30

Wow - some good news. The archive did have a record of the bathroom being built. Back in 1968 - and they had a 'completion certificate so I think all sorted on that front (I really hope, but am waiting to see certificate tomorrow).

There's no record of dividing wall being removed, but if it isn't weight bearing we might not need anything anyway. Will have to try and find out if it is! But I'm thinking even if it is, getting an rsj fitted (if there isn't one) is much better than having to deal with any extension related nightmares.

Anyhow, reason I'm posting this is that my solicitor said not to get in touch with council and not to ask for archive records as this would alert council to something they should know about (and then investigate). I was really cautious when I approached (didn't initially give address etc), but they really weren't interested, and were very helpful (gawd I hope I'm not tempting fate) so if others are in same position it could be worthwhile making tentative enquiries. I wish I'd known about archive option as would have saved a few days of worrying!

Crumblemum Tue 20-Nov-12 18:54:19

I think if you're looking to buy and can cope (and afford) to make up to building regs - there's nothing to stop you, if you go into it with eyes wide open. It also means you can re-sell easily (more easily than current sellers). The real problem is in our case where the mortgage company would not give our buyers the £££ without.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 20-Nov-12 18:54:47

As an aside, through work I know that councils are digitising ALL of their planning records going back in time.
Some are back to 1970.
Simple reason : storing all that paper and retrieving from it costs a fortune
If you are concerned about a house you are looking at, look it up
:-)

poppyboo Tue 20-Nov-12 18:57:16

crumblemum where were the archives? With the local council? Useful information to know for future reference! I'm glad you had good news.

JudeFawley Tue 20-Nov-12 18:57:19

You can't regularise anything done before 1985.

If no application was made before this, your only option is indemnity insurance.

If this was in my local authority, we would have no interest in this as it's too old and the house hasn't fallen down, has it?

Over zealous solicitors can cause huge and unnecessary problems in cases like these.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 20-Nov-12 19:47:51
MariaMandarin Tue 20-Nov-12 20:02:16

So would it be possible to bring it up to building regs if it was converted before 1980? The estate agents did advertise it as bedroom and not a loft room but not sure what we can do about that now. We really want the extra space so that was a main selling point for us.

Sorry to hijack the thread but I was just thinking about it when I saw your title Crumblemum. Good news about your extension. Hope everything goes smoothly now.

JudeFawley Tue 20-Nov-12 21:58:40

Maria - if you wanted it to comply with the Building Regs as they are now, you would have to strip it back and either start over or show that the various elements comply (which they wouldn't as regs have changed so much over the years).

Presumably the house has been bought and sold since the 60s, and it hasn't been a problem so far. It would not have to comply as it is because it was done too long ago.

If it was done after 1985 however, it's a different matter as you could ask for retrospective permission. As it is, indemnity insurance is an option.

MariaMandarin Tue 20-Nov-12 22:06:53

Thanks Jude. The house hasn't actually been sold on since the loft was done, it's been in the same ownership since the mid 60s. It's good to know that it doesn't have to comply but I am concerned about re-sale. We've already had an offer accepted but we are wondering whether it would be right to try and reduce it because of the loft.

poppyboo Wed 21-Nov-12 09:31:56

From my experience Maria, you need some sort of proof when it was done, without it, solicitors say its all speculation and that is when building reg issues become an issue and as stupid as it sounds, it's here say when the loft conversion was done. Is there any sort of paper work at all?

MariaMandarin Wed 21-Nov-12 10:05:07

I don't know about paperwork but it is possible as they've mentioned leaving it for various other completely ancient things. I think the sellers are telling the truth. The house is being sold because of the owner's death and it's unlikely they would have converted it more recently. They had 4 children who are now at least in their 50s and they needed the space back then. I will ask about paperwork and I'm going to speak to my solicitor about it today as well and see what he suggests.

poppyboo Wed 21-Nov-12 10:38:47

Good idea about talking to your solicitor, I guess it doesn't matter if you believe the sellers, the problems that need to be thought about are further down the line when you're trying to resell the property and any potential buyers solicitors start requesting paperwork.

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