Buying a new home-BUYER Beware
- Any property purchase is subject to caveat emptor (“buyer beware”). This means that it is the buyer’s responsibility, with help from their solicitor, to understand what they are buying.
- A property with a newly-built extension of recent alterations is likely to be more attractive to buyers. Renovations, however, must be done. LIke a ( loft or roof conversion, a side or rear extension, solar panels, gates, a boundary wall, or any interior work within a building) carried out in the property needs to have planning permission from the local planning authority and must be building regulation compliant.
- The work is also more likely to need planning if it significantly alters the appearance of the property.
- The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (No. 2) (England) Order 2008 contains the exact legislation.
Why do building regulations matter?
- The regulations are designed to protect the safety and welfare of those in and around the building.
- Among these regulations are those governing the building’s structures, electrics, fires, ventilation, sanitation, soundproofing, damp proofing, drainage, waste disposal, and fall protection.
- There is a risk to the building if it has been altered without the approval of the building regulations.
- In addition to construction work, building regulations also cover some home improvements such as replacing fuse boxes and connected electrics, plumbing in a new bathroom, changing electrics near a bath or shower, replacing doors and windows putting in cavity wall insulation, putting in extra radiators.
- Works such as routine repairs and maintenance (excluding fuse boxes, oil tanks, and glazing units), installing a new sink, toilet, or bath that fits in the same way as the old one, and new lighting and power points (excluding those around a bath or shower) are unlikely to require building regulations approval.
- Along with issuing a building permit, the local authority should be informed that the work is in accordance with regulations.
What do sellers need to reveal?
The TA6 Property Information Form
- To simplify the information-gathering stage of the process, the Law Society has published a standard property information form. The form is sometimes known as a “PIF” or TA6. This form includes a wide range of questions that sellers must answer inclusive of information such as neighbor’s disputes, Japanese knotweed, alterations, planning and building control, any breaches of planning permissions or building regulations, whether there are planning issues to resolve, or whether unfinished work lacks necessary consents.
- For all work, the seller must provide document copies of planning permissions, building regulations approvals, and completion certificates. If all the documents cannot be provided, the seller must explain why.
- A property survey can be an invaluable aid here. A negative property survey report is not usually a reason to panic. Get as much detail as you can, do the necessary sums, and communicate with the seller.
What are the risks to the home buyer?
- There is a range of potential consequences for anyone purchasing a property with building work that lacks the proper permissions. The following risks might affect the new home buyer if planning licences have been denied, construction laws have been broken by the seller, or the work has not been signed off by a building inspector:-
1. Mortgage ability
- Whether you can get a mortgage for the property will often be your first concern. Some lenders will simply not lend on a property affected by planning issues. Your property may be affected by this issue if you plan to sell it in the next few years.
2. Cost of reversion or alteration
- The council may enforce a building control or planning order against the property. Reconstruction, planning, and planning control are all the responsibility of the new owner.
3. Diminution of value
- These hazards can greatly impact the value of a property.
4. Enforcement notices
- Local authorities can serve enforcement notices against any property owner for breaches of the law if a property has been extended without the necessary planning consents or building regulations. This might require the extension to be modified or demolished, or you being fined or even imprisoned if you fail to address the breaches – even if you were not the property owner at the time the work was carried out.
Where work is carried out without planning permission what can the new owner do?
1. Apply for retrospective consent
- The new owner can apply to the local authority for retrospective consent. Where the work is fully compliant and does not breach any conservation area or listed building-related restrictions, the council may grant this consent or in some cases where the local authority is unable to confirm if the work is fully compliant, the inspector may instead confirm that they will take no further enforcement action. They will issue a Regularisation Certificate.
2. An indemnity policy
- There is a risk that the council could refuse retrospective consent. As a result, a new owner may decide to buy an indemnity coverage instead. The policy will insure against the cost of work or losses should the council take enforcement action. In such cases, the buyer may not be able to purchase a policy as well if the council has already refused consent. Despite the fact that they are not too expensive, the seller should be responsible for paying for this policy.
- A building’s safety may still be questioned with or without insurance. It will not cover you for general costs or losses resulting from any defects in the property. If the previous owner had permission refused by the local authority to carry out the works to the property, the insurance will be invalid.
- The adjustments made to the property may only be covered by the indemnity insurance if they are over a year old. If the local council is informed that you do not have a completion certificate for the works, the policy will be invalid.
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