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No building regs for extension or loft conversion - would you proceed with house purchase

(60 Posts)
NorkyButNice Fri 07-Aug-09 16:06:36

We're in the process of buying a house which seemed ideal - the owners have done a loft conversion and added an extra bedroom which appeared to have been done really nicely.

After holding back on providing documents to my solicitor for the last 3 weeks, it now appears that they had no planning permission or building regs sign off for the works that have been done. I think they're OK on the planning front, but obviously they should have got building regs to sign off the work.

Their solicitor is now asking if we'll accept the vendors buying us an indemnity insurance policy to cover us in the eventuality that the council comes along and challenges us over the work, but if we accept that there's no way to get retrospective sign-off (and so no way to guarantee that the work has been done safely and to the required standards).

Other option is insisting that the vendors apply for building regs before the sale goes through (and remedy any issues that are raised).

I'm fuming as the vendors have spent the last 3 weeks trying to hide the truth from us. It seems they'd been lying to their solicitor all this time too - makes me wonder what else might be wrong.

What would you do in this case? Sorry this is so long!

FiveGoMadInDorset Fri 07-Aug-09 16:11:36

No I wouldn't be happy to spend a huge amount of money on a house that has not been signed off on, the fact that they have been stalling would worry me, if I was in your shoes I would insist that they had the work signed off by building regs.

Tortington Fri 07-Aug-09 16:13:57

we have a loft with no permission and got them to get indemnity insurance.

Tortington Fri 07-Aug-09 16:14:32

however if you ask about it or try to remedy the situation retrospectivley, the insurance is voided - so i understand

BigGobMum Fri 07-Aug-09 16:17:20

No. Wouldnt risk it.

noddyholder Fri 07-Aug-09 16:17:50

The indemnity insurance only indemnifies in respect of planning so you would not be forced to take the extension away etc.But it doesn't insure against the loft room being sub standard or anything so you need a good structural surveyor to give it the once over.

weegiemum Fri 07-Aug-09 16:21:09

My brother bought a house with an extension dine with no planning permission and now he is not able to sell at all - been a pain in the neck as they moved 100 miles with work and are renting it out instead.

Don't do it.

NorkyButNice Fri 07-Aug-09 16:21:24

Custy - did you take any money off your price because the work wasn't signed off (or did you know before offering?).

My concerns are the fact that things like the electrics won't have been checked, strength of new walls...

When it comes to selling the property on I'd have to tell people the work wasn't signed off which would reduce it's value too - there's no way I'm paying the price we've agreed even with the insurance policy.

LIZS Fri 07-Aug-09 16:22:24

Can you get an independent surveyor to check it complies to buildings regs ? How long ago was it done because while it may have conformed at the time, it might not now as they change which is a whole new issue. If they/you contact the council and it is refused then you can't get indemnity insurance. Alternative is to renegotiate the price excluding the loft as a habitable room, We went down the indemnity isnurance route and the loft is used as a playroom and occcasional bedroom (stairs have buildings regs though)

NorkyButNice Fri 07-Aug-09 16:22:56

Lots of x posts there!

LIZS Fri 07-Aug-09 16:23:58

You can sell an indemnity policy on with the house btw.

Tortington Fri 07-Aug-09 16:24:42

no i didn't but i bought before the downturn - and i loved the house so much i would have done anything.

i thnk your in a good position to bargain further.

listen to Noddy - she is the expert

edam Fri 07-Aug-09 16:24:53

I'd go with noddy and get a structural engineer/surveyor in - and make the sellers pay for him or her.

I understand that can cause problems taking out indemnity insurance (although I think that insurance may merely cover you for planning insisting work is undone, rather than the extension falling down?) BUT I'd rather know than take the risk of faulty wiring/whatever.

NorkyButNice Fri 07-Aug-09 16:32:02

I've called the surveyor who saw the property - he's reading over his report to refresh his mind and is calling back. I'm annoyed at the fact that I'm going to have to pay for him to go back again (or can I insist the vendors pay)?

I really don't think we're going to buy unless the vendors get the building regs sign off before we proceed. This is so frustrating!

PestoMonster Fri 07-Aug-09 16:42:10

Norky, deduct the extra costs you incur from the amount of your offer.

LIZS Fri 07-Aug-09 16:45:38

Be a little careful as if they pay out I think technically it may become their report rather than yours. You may want to do as PestoM says. Obviously if you were to pull out they still have the issue to resolve so ti gives you some leverage. Did the surveyor's valuation assume it was a bedroom ?

NorkyButNice Fri 07-Aug-09 16:54:00

Yes, the surveyors valuation is based on it being a 4 bed house (including loft conversion and the extension).

If we drop our offer by the amount I'm thinking, I think they'll change their mind about leaving - they were insistent on getting near the asking price because of how much they've spent on the work they've done [hollow laugh].

MarquesDeLeon Fri 07-Aug-09 17:00:13

We sold our house 8 months ago and discovered (unknown to us) that building regs hadn't been signed off on a bathroom installation that had been done 2 years previously whilst we were overseas. We rang the council and the chap came round the next day had a quick look and signed it off. There had also been an extension done 20 years previously (before we owned the house)that hadn't been signed off. The purchaser wouldn't accept indemnity insurance (it had never been an issue for us when we bought it) but our wonderful estate agent (yes! I know) got an official letter from the council stating that they would never question the legality or otherwise of the extension.

noddyholder Fri 07-Aug-09 17:08:29

If you love the house and the surveyor says it is up to standard and you plan to stay in it then I would get a small reduction and proceed.

ilovemydogandmrobama Fri 07-Aug-09 17:22:30

This happened to me. I was selling a flat and turned out the kitchen extension didn't get planning permission. (why this was only discovered when i was selling, I don't know hmm)

I called the Council and they said that they said they can't do much if it's more than 7 years ago in that they won't ask you to remove the work. In the end, the buyer and I split the cost of the indemnity insurance.

Sorry to be stupid, but isn't the whole point of the new scheme of home buyers packsis for sellers to provide guarantees etc is so that these issues are known about in advance?

littlerach Fri 07-Aug-09 17:39:04

When we bought this house the loft conversion had no official Bu Regs done. However, when dh went ot the planning dept, he spoke ot he chap who had checked it all and he was happy with it all.

Our sellers took out the indemnity insurance on our solicitor's insistence.

HerHonesty Fri 07-Aug-09 18:01:49

no, if they couldnt be bothered to get br or planning then you have to wonder what sort of builder they used to do the work (no decent builder would do this)

so regardless of any indeminty insurance, unless you get a massive drop in the price you cant really protect yourself against the shoddy work that may have been done.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Fri 07-Aug-09 18:04:45

No way would I proceed.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Fri 07-Aug-09 18:06:57

I would see if they have been hiding anything else too and would not pay out for anything due to them trying to shaft you.

NorkyButNice Fri 07-Aug-09 18:07:37

The HIP says that they have got building regs. Turns out to be a lie (estate agent and their solicitor unaware).

I am worried about the quality of building work and what else the house might be hiding.

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