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How straightforward is it to buy the house next door and knock through?

(61 Posts)
NeopreneMermaid Mon 24-Jun-13 15:24:43

We live in a semi and have been considering extending (awkward) or moving (too sentimental - DS born here) and the house next door has come up for sale.

We could afford it at a stretch (probably) but has anyone any experience of converting two semis into a single detached? What's planning permission like?

I don't doubt conversion will be a pita but is it worth it?

ILikeBirds Mon 24-Jun-13 17:40:44

You often don't need planning permission to knock two houses into one. (You would require it to make one into two)

doradoo Mon 24-Jun-13 17:51:08

It depends on the layout of the semis.

Are the front doors in the middle next to each other - would be straightforward to do and create large hall/stairway for example.

If the doors/halls/stairs are at opposite ends of the pair then it's more difficult - but not impossible.

You'd need to look at the layouts - how much work would it take to make it flow as one house?

What about kitchen(s) - how would converting them work - and bathrooms.

But your main issues are usually stairs - and making the house feel like a single house rather than two patched together.

Ebayaholic Mon 24-Jun-13 17:57:45

If you don't own it outright your lender will probably refuse consent

flow4 Mon 24-Jun-13 18:14:04

Two sets of my friends have done this. Neither had any problems with mortgages or planning. They have basically created archways between the two houses (one one up and one down), and both 'flow' fine. In both houses, they have joined the kitchens at the back, and turned one into a dining room. In one, they have also knocked thru by the front doors. It works. I'd do it, if I could. smile

aftereight Mon 24-Jun-13 18:18:24

Depending on the layout of the houses, it could be quite straightforward, but I'd be tempted to get a professional in to advise on the best layout.
I'm not sure what would happen re council tax and utilities though if two separate houses were joined to make one larger one?
And I'd imagine the deeds would need amending by a solicitor?

VBisme Mon 24-Jun-13 18:25:13

Our issue was the lender. We couldn't get a mortgage to create a single property until we owned that property.
So we had to cash buy and then remortgage (only thanks to very generous relatives who could lend us the money in the short term).

InsertUsernameHere Mon 24-Jun-13 18:56:51

One important (good) thing to know is that as you are changing the number of dwellings (two houses into one) the building work and materials is only liable for reduced rate VAT (currently 5%). This is only for services via a contactor (ie you can't claim back the VAT). See HMRC notice 708 for the details. I gleaned this gem from one of the bazillion home mags I buy (and hence I use it to justify my magazine habit! )

NeopreneMermaid Mon 24-Jun-13 20:15:47

Thanks for all the advice and pointers. Didn't mean to start a drip-feed but here's some info I hadn't thought to didn't include in my op:

We don't own our current house outright (mortgaged). Would we really need to own ours outright before we could buy another? Would it make a difference if was any old house that wasn't next door?

Current layout is identical houses rather than the more usual mirror image. This has hitherto been good as their stairwell is on the other side of our living room and bedroom so we have a bit more privacy than if our sofas and beds were next to each other but would make knocking through more of a challenge (their stairwell would be in the middle of the new house; ours on the right end of it. Kitchens and bathrooms would both be separated by a room).

Anifrangapani Mon 24-Jun-13 20:24:07

Physically it will depend on where the load bearing walls are. Easiest way to check is see where the walls are in the same place on the top and bottom floors. Chimneys are usually in load bearing walls.

Planning - call your planning department and ask what they need.

BeyonceCastle Mon 24-Jun-13 20:29:55

God I would love this but only to put one door in between the lounges then my DH and I could live separately but together like helena bonham carter and tim burton envy
or Could have one messy house for the kids and one clean house for visitors. Ooh, the possibilities!

FatimaLovesBread Mon 24-Jun-13 20:30:43

Not sure how it would work value wise. Two semi detached's might be worth £150k each but one detached might not necessarily be worth £300k. This wouldn't necessarily matter if you were cash buyers and not ever thinking of selling. But if the ceiling price of detached is £250k then it's almost like you've lost £50k.

I think that might be one scenario where mortgages would be difficult

VBisme Mon 24-Jun-13 20:35:44

We bought next doors outright and then applied to make them 1 dwelling and then remortgaged to pay people back.

It's difficult to get 2 residential mortgages, but as you've seen from your responses it isn't that unusual.

Contact a mortgage advisor and ask for some help.

Good luck!

MisForMumNotMaid Mon 24-Jun-13 20:36:46

My sister runs her business from the house next door. The next door kitchen is now a big utility with washer, dryer, utility sink, big freezer etc. the upstairs (2 bed) guest room and office, the lounge is the stock room.

She's built a two room sun room extension across the back to join the two properties. The extension door between the rooms could be bricked up at a future date to revert it back to two properties.

OliviaYouCannotBSeriousMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 24-Jun-13 20:38:35

Not very
<marks place>

nemno Mon 24-Jun-13 20:46:34

I'm interested in this too but luckily wouldn't have the mortgage problems mentioned already. The building was once one house and reconfiguring also isn't my concern apart from the cost, having the utilities changed is presumably very expensive?? I'm worried about the council, aren't they all supposed to be increasing housing not reducing? And one council tax would be way less for them than the current 2.

SingingSands Mon 24-Jun-13 20:53:57

I would love to do this. We are a 3 bed terrace attached to a 2 bed end terrace. And at risk of sounding morbid, my neighbours are quite elderly and not in the best of health (but I love them! I don't want anything to happen to them!) so it is something I play around with in my head for "in the future".

A good architect would be able to give some excellent advice. Which you them must reiterate to us!

VBisme Mon 24-Jun-13 21:28:52

The council were very funny.

They tried to charge me for two council taxes, I pointed out that the house was now one dwelling and needed to be reassessed.

Their response (I'm not kidding) "but that's not fair".


Reassessed at the single dwelling rate and sorted.

VBisme Mon 24-Jun-13 21:30:26

Utilities weren't an issue either, in fact that side of things was very easy (now assuming DH dealt with the aggro from that side of things)

MrsGrowbag Mon 24-Jun-13 21:48:34

I think it might depend on whether you live in an urban area or a rural one. One of my friends wanted to do this in the village where she lived - Victorian 3 bed semis, she wanted to buy next door's and knock through. Local council turned her down on grounds that it would take two "affordable" 3 bed houses out of the village housing stock and replace it with a 5 bed detached "luxury" house. The village didn't have many 3bed family houses, but had quite a lot of 5 bed ones. She was fuming but I saw the council's point.

i would love to do this

<waits for dh to earn enough money to buy our 1st house> grin

NeopreneMermaid Mon 24-Jun-13 22:04:57

It's in an '80s estate village and there's a mix of 2, 3, 4 and 5-bed houses (ours and next door have 3 but the 3rd bedroom is about 6'x6').

If we did this, it would be our forever house so I'm not worried about the sale value (and the DCs are toddlers and not sleeping well so my sympathy on reducing their inheritance is limited grin ). Is this what would worry a lender though?

I do have reservations about planning permission in this area - there's some covenant in this "village" that means you need to have planning permission to put a shed in your garden. hmm I kid you not. We needed it to put our conservatory/lean-to up.

I have spent much of today mentally constructing my new floorplan. smile

MisForMumNotMaid Mon 24-Jun-13 22:06:55

Email the council planning department and ask in principal without giving any specifics. No external alterations etc.

OliviaYouCannotBSeriousMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 24-Jun-13 22:39:53


I'm not sure what would happen re council tax and utilities though if two separate houses were joined to make one larger one?

We disconnected phone and gas and water in the new side and connected everything off the old side.

But we pay electricity twice - cos it was v complicated to split those.

If it's your forever house you won't be reevaluated for council tax until you come to sell.
But we had a man from the tax office when we'd finished come to check that there was no kitchen i.e the "extension" wasn't a dwelling in itself.


nemno Mon 24-Jun-13 22:53:10

"We disconnected phone and gas and water in the new side and connected everything off the old side.

But we pay electricity twice - cos it was v complicated to split those.

If it's your forever house you won't be reevaluated for council tax until you come to sell"

Can I clarify these please Olivia. You carry on paying the Council tax for 2 dwellings? And when you stop using gas and water on one side you can stop paying the standing charges too.

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