Gaaahhhh! I knew this was going to happen! No planning permission/building regs :(

(47 Posts)
AngryFeet Fri 01-Mar-13 10:41:23

Offered on our first house on 10th Jan. Finally got our mortgage offer on Tuesday and called the solicitors today to make sure they were ready. They said the searches have come back clear and they are waiting to receive their copy of the mortgage offer. DH and I have been a bit concerned that there might not be planning permission on 3 things - conservatory, small flat roof one storey extension to dining room and a loft room that has a dormer window (not an official room but has been boarded/carpeted etc but we were just planning to keep it as a loft as I doubt the joists have been strengthened). We were concerned as on the Property Info Pack the vendor had put question marks and 'ask council' next to the questions about building changes and building control issues but then he checked the box saying there weren't

Anyway the solicitor knew nothing about any of these extensions as they had not been disclosed! She said she is writing to his solicitor now. We just spoke to our estate agent who is very pissed off and is on his way to speak to the vendor to find out exactly what is going on.

So our choices are:-

1) Get him to get retrospective planning permission and building regs (unlikely to pass at todays standards I guess).

2) Hope they are older than 4 years and get indemnity insurance (solicitor says if they are older than 10 years we don't even need to bother with the insurance - is that right?). I would also be tempted to get him to pay for a full structural survey if that is the case. This is all based on whether he did 'call the council' as stated on his notes of course! Lets hope he didn't.

3) Reduce our offer significantly to get it sorted out ourselves.

4) Walk away.

It is a great house in a perfect location and nothing else on the market at the mo in our price range.

Our home buyers survey is due back today as well so will see what that brings up.

Arrrggghhh I am so pissed off - although not surprised at all as I had a feeling it would go wrong at this point.

Balls.

Svrider Fri 01-Mar-13 10:44:56

Relax wink
The vendor wants to sell. They have to sort this before you can exchange contracts IMHO
Remember this is their problem
Any buyer Is going to need this sorting
Fingers crossed

AngryFeet Fri 01-Mar-13 10:52:56

I know but we are living in my parents house which is on the market so we are a bit time limited so anything that needs sorting needs to be done fairly quickly or we will have to rent which is a nightmare around here.

Anyway I know it isn't our problem it is just frustrating sad

WhataSook Fri 01-Mar-13 11:03:02

ah AngryFeet, I was just reading your other thread and was very excited for you! (and did have a nosey at your link smile)

I agree with Svrider, try to relax, the solicitor is aware of it now (and knows they are perhaps not very forthcoming so hopefully will double check everything!). It's a slow process, you just need to be patient.

Does your parents house have an offer on it already? If not, then I'm pretty certain you've got time to get your house sorted and moved in before.

Pendeen Fri 01-Mar-13 11:34:57

"...so we are a bit time limited so anything that needs sorting needs to be done fairly quickly"

Not going to happen I'm afraid to tell you...

In the first place although it's probable that none of the work will need planning consent, building regs approval will be required for the extension and loft conversion.

As the owners have undertaken the work without consent its very likely:

(a) they had no idea consent was required therefore know nothing about the regs and if they used a builder rather than DIY, he didn't know much more.

(b) If they did know consent was required, why didn't they apply? Very suspicious.

(c) to find out what the reality is, the surveyor will have to examine the alterations in detail and guess at what he can't see e.g. foundations, drainage, insulation, vapour barriers etc. Most surveyors are scared of committing themselves without a lot of support and further investigations.

(d) the alterations will probably not conform but even if they do an application will have to be submitted which means someone preparing drawings and calculations.

(e) Either the council will accept and pass the application (but in relality that is not going to happen) or they will reject and insist on remedial work. They may even insist that the extension is demloished and rebuilt or the roof removed and recovered or altered.

(f) Either way they will have to inspect before a completion certificate is issued. Again, no guarantee at that stage that the remedial work is satisfactory.

You have now spent between 8 and 20 weeks or longer.

Insurance is almost always pointless because why on earth would you buy something which is probably substandard and from a vendor who has knowingly concealed something from you. What else are you likely to uncover?

What happens when you come to sell, you would then be in the position that your vendor is in? Why do that to yourself?

If I were in your position I would stop now and begin looking elsewhere.

Option (4) is the only sane one IMO.

AngryFeet Fri 01-Mar-13 11:40:10

Pendeen. You are right I know sad That is why I am so wound up because I know we need to walk away and that is £2k we can ill afford down the drain (solicitors fees and valuation/survey). So frustrating.

jammybean Fri 01-Mar-13 11:53:23

I have to agree with pendeen. Made an offer on a house several months ago where the vendor had extensively refurbished and extended a grade 2 listed house without proper consents then failed to declare it. We decided to pull out as we couldn't risk being stuck with a property that we couldn't sell in the future. We managed to recover our costs from the vendor and found another house soon after.

Retrospective planning will take months not weeks, and there's no guarantee the council would grant it.

Would the house still work for you without the loft or conservatory?

AngryFeet Fri 01-Mar-13 12:00:37

No I think it would be too small jammybean. The other option is to tell him to drop by enough to redo bits but I can't imagine he will be able to. Feel very sorry for the people further up the chain. Everyone is ready to exchange sad What a stupid man - did he really think people would not question this?

WhataSook Fri 01-Mar-13 12:04:30

sorry AngryFeet, obviousy Pendeen knows what they are talking about! (never bought a house that had an extension)

Good luck, hope you get something sorted soon.

GinAndSlimlinePlease Fri 01-Mar-13 12:06:04

I don't think you have to walk away. But before you buy you'll need to make sure that you have a full structural survey done, get indemnity insurance, and knock the cost of remedial work off for price you've offered.

As others have said, it's the seller's responsibility.

Bear in mind it will affect the selling on.

GinAndSlimlinePlease Fri 01-Mar-13 12:08:33

I would also say, it's for the seller to provide the insurance. And have a discrete chat with a planning officer.

Pendeen Fri 01-Mar-13 12:14:50

Sorry to hear about the expense AngryFeet and I agree it's very frustrating all round, he is indeed a very silly man.

I have often thought that vendors should be held to account and was therefore very pleased to hear of jammybeans success with her rogue vendor - well done indeed!

PigletJohn Fri 01-Mar-13 12:33:00

A non-compliant conversion or extension adds negative value to a house, because you have to factor in the cost of ripping it out, as well as the cost of doing it again properly.

mistlethrush Fri 01-Mar-13 12:37:45

Probably you would not need to apply for planning permission as it would be Permitted Development - this sort of thing normally is, provided it meets certain requirements - this could quite easily be checked out by contacting the local council. The issue will be Building Regs - but it would be up to your vendor to provide the necessary insurance to get those confirmed or get the work redone to meet required standards.

ILikeBirds Fri 01-Mar-13 12:55:54

Insurance only indemnifies against the council taking legal action. Highly unlikely and there's a 2 year time limit on this for building regs. It doesn't protect you from the cost of putting anything right should the roof start leaking because the pitch is too shallow or if the extension starts to come away from the house because it's not been tied in properly etc.

jammybean Fri 01-Mar-13 17:41:14

Angryfeet in that case I would pull out. It was the same in our case too. I know it is very frustrating and as much as you want this house. You will find another which will most likely be even better. Saying this as someone who has had 2 previous purchases fall through and now currently on the third purchase which turns out to be the dream house without too many compromises.

<fingers crossed>

Pendeen We only managed to recover the costs after a few stern letters from our solicitor, both to the agent (who were advising us to proceed regardless) and to the vendor. It did get a little unpleasant but we also threatened to inform the council of the lack of consent etc. It still makes me cross!

impecuniousmarmoset Fri 01-Mar-13 18:43:47

You're sure these weren't done years and years ago? I only ask because some vendors who bought a friend's house wanted to see evidence of bregs/planning for the kitchen 'extension' and removal of the dividing wall between the two living rooms. Two changes which most victorian terraces round here had done to them at least 40 years ago, if not 60!

PigletJohn Fri 01-Mar-13 19:02:28

BRegs applied 40 years ago.

AFAIK 60 years ago as well

As rule of themb, if a builder or DIYer does some work which is subject to regulations, and avoids them, it is because he has not done the work to the standards required.

impecuniousmarmoset Fri 01-Mar-13 20:00:21

pigletjohn but what honestly are the chances of laying your hands on any 60-year-old paperwork proving it?!

impecuniousmarmoset Fri 01-Mar-13 20:03:14

Eventually surely you have to just trust to the building survey. Our first house was originally a 2-up 2-down terrace. At some point in the last 120 years a kitchen was added, but who on earth knows when! If we'd asked for documentation for it we'd have been laughed out of the door (as indeed were the buyers I mentioned earlier).

PigletJohn Fri 01-Mar-13 20:20:46

when I was selling family house recently, I went to council's website to track down applications for alterations. They still had on file applications from the 1960's up and down the road, with brief description and status.

The website actually said "seach applications since 1990" but they must have recorded the summary (but not copy documents) from earlier.

(I just had another look, and there is an application in that road showing from 1953. It says

Planning Application Ref:
PL/xxxx65/53

Site Location:
40 blogs street

Registration Date:
01-Jan-1953

Decision Date:
17-Sep-1953

Application Type:
Full Planning Permission

Ward:

Proposal:
ERECTION OF HOUSE

Decision:
Granted/Approved
Decision Date:
17-Sep-1953

I presume you would have to go to the town hall to look at paper files or microfilm

The buyer's solicitors must have looked as well because they asked if I had the papers relating to some building work in 1958.

notcitrus Fri 01-Mar-13 20:24:07

Depends how much you care about the standard of the extensions. We were in this situation, though we'd asked our solicitor immediately, and eventually the council confirmed they couldn't make us knock the extension down.
So despite the surveyor being scathing about the "substandard single skin extension" we figured it would work until we wanted to knock it down and rebuild properly. So used the full structural survey to knock a bit more off the price and have been happily living here for years.

Hoping to knock the kitchen down and rebuild this summer...

southnorwoodmum Fri 01-Mar-13 20:29:48

Hm, I bought 2 bed old terrace house 4 years ago. It had old (perhaps 20-40 year old) conservatory and my solicitor did not raise any concerns but I don't remember seeing planning permissions either. I have replaced old wooden windows with UPVC since. Am I in trouble? (permission-wise)?

AngryFeet Fri 01-Mar-13 20:33:22

Loft room was done in 1967, conservatory in 1990 and small extension in 1996. My main concern lies with the fact that we may struggle to sell even though that will probably not be for 10+ years. Survey has come back pretty much clear with no level 3's. I would want someone to look at the structural integrity of the extensions. In 2 minds. DH has spent the afternoon doing research and talking to his uncle who is high up in a planning dept (not the same area as us smile) and he says he thinks we should go ahead and buy confused. Waiting to hear his gems of wisdom on this one!

southnorwoodmum Fri 01-Mar-13 20:34:36

Was the building permission really required? Look [[http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/general/faq/faqplanpermhome here]

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