Understand the process and what’s involved in Planning Applications
If you are relatively new to property investing, look to purchase property that needs light refurbishment. As you get more experienced you may feel more confident to progress to full refurbishments. Initially, I would avoid looking at a property that requires planning applications, until you are more proficient.
If you wish to extend or convert a garage to living accommodation, you may need to submit a Planning Application to the local authority. A Planning application will generally consist of the following;
- The Planning Application. This provides details of you the applicant, the location of the work and the description of the work. To confirm you are the owner of the land and that it does not form part of an agricultural holding.
- The application will require you to pay a fee, which will be available from your LPA (Local Planning Authority).
- The application will require you to submit scaled plans showing the existing elevations and the proposed elevations and plans. You will need to show a block plan of the house in the context of the street.
- An Ordnance Survey plan at a min scale of 1:1250 showing the location of the house.
The application forms and notes to assist you are available from your local planning department. You can make your application digitally via the on-line Planning Portal.
Do you need an Architect to submit the Planning Applications & Drawings?
Whilst some of you may feel that you can put the plans together I would recommend that you employ someone who specialises in this. Most people automatically think they need an Architect. But there is an army of equally capable and talented people who are known as Architectural Technologists or Architectural Services. This is the banner under which I trade. By all means Google Architects and Architectural Services in your area and make some calls. The body that the Architectural Services firms are regulated by is called the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists C.I.A.T.
Try to avoid anyone that is offering to it as a cash job. They are flying below the radar and will not have any insurances should something go wrong. Quite often you will find it difficult to get hold of them as they will be ‘in work’ during the day. You will probably only be given a mobile number.
What to expect from an Architect or Architectural Technologists…
If someone calls me and asks me for a quote over the phone, I will ask detailed questions about the type of house, terraced or a semi etc. If they want a single or two-storey extension. Which way will the roof join into the existing house or the existing roof. I have done so many of these over the years so I am quite happy to give a ballpark figure. If the people you ring aren’t able to do that for you and start dragging the costs out, find someone else.
The Architectural guys should advise you if what you are proposing falls within the guidelines set by the Planning department. Whilst you may feel that the property is yours and you can do what you want, unfortunately, that is not the case. Your extension must fall within the guidelines set. These are there to ensure that the proposals don’t make the pattern of the existing development unsightly. They will use the word ‘incongruent’. Also, your extension must not overbear your neighbours’ property or restrict light to habitable rooms.
The people that you appoint will need to visit the property and undertake a dimensional survey in order to prepare the existing plans and elevation. They will note the positions of drains and any incoming gas, electrical or water services. They will then produce the proposed plans and elevations, together with the block plan, this is usually to a scale of 1:200. it will show the outline of the house in the context of the adjacent properties and also show the planning officer the relationship of the proposed extension to adjacent houses.
Submitting Applications & Fees…
As mentioned above your planning application can be submitted using the forms and drawings printed or submitted on-line. The professionals you employ should handle all this for you and will request that you either provide them with the application fee to forward on your behalf or request that you forward it directly.
A Planning application fee for an extension or a garage conversion is classed as a ‘homeowner’ application and the fee will be in the order of £165-180.
Mike’ Top Tip!
By using an Architectural Services firm as opposed to an Architects firm will save hundreds of £’s.
What is Permitted Development and do you need a planning application?
If you wish to convert an attic to habitable accommodation and install roof lights a planning application is not required. This is called ‘permitted development’. Please note that there are exceptions in conservation areas.
If you are considering converting an attached garage, you will need permission even though nobody has ever parked a car in there because it was too small. The existing house will have a parking allocation, usually 2 off-road spaces. By losing the garage you are changing the parking arrangements and the highways authority won’t want to see the streets overcrowded with parked cars. If you can demonstrate that by widening the driveway to accommodate 2 cars side by side, this will usually be acceptable.
So, you will still need to submit an application to get approval. And you must also apply to the highways department to get the pavement crossover widened. Most highway authorities will not permit anyone to work on the adopted high way, therefore, you will have to pay them to come out and undertake the work.
Permitted Development or Planning Applications?
Each local authority will have published guidelines for typical extensions which are available to you. Some small extensions are deemed to be ‘permitted development’ which means that you are allowed to undertake the work providing it falls within the approved guidelines. The guidelines vary from authority to authority. However, there has been some loosening of the planning laws in recent years, so by all means contact the LPA and request details of the extensions that are permitted. They are usually, rear single story extensions that do not exceed 4 metre’s high and do not project more than 4 metres from the main wall.
If your proposals do fall within the permitted development, I would take photographs before and after and apply to the LPA once the work is complete for a ‘Certificate of Lawful development’. This is an essential piece of paper for when you wish to sell the property. The LPA will charge you a fee of around £50.
Selling and Certificates…
‘Pieces of paper’ that is – Certificates of Conformity are essential to ensure a smooth sales transaction. I can’t stress this enough. Building Regulations Completion Certificates, Certificates of Lawful Use, FENSA Certificate, DPC and Timber treatment guarantee’s are the main ones.
I stress this because, when a valuation surveyor visits your newly refurbished house, he will note the fact that you have made improvements. He will state on the valuation report that the solicitor is to obtain the relevant certificates and report to the lender, prior to the lender releasing the funds. Without them, you won’t get the funds!
Mike’ Top Tip!
If you do work to a property that is within the permitted development rights, get a Certificate of Lawful Use, this will save you a huge headache when you come to sell.
Still not sure? Get in touch.
If you have any questions about planning applications or other issues, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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Thanks for reading.