Buying a new home-BUYER BEWARE

  • The principle of caveat emptor (“buyer beware”) applies when purchasing any property. 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. But all major renovation work (loft or roof conversion, two-storey rear or side extension, construction of a permanent outbuilding, solar panels, gates, boundary wall, or any internal work in 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.
  • Although some work may fall within the term Permitted Development. If you choose not to obey the regulations, you may be fined, imprisoned, or have your extension revoked.
  • The exact legislation is detailed in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 as amended by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (No. 2) (England) Order 2008.


Why do building regulations matter?

  • These regulations seek to ensure a building’s safety and welfare. Building regulations are in place to cover a number of different areas, including structural, electrical, and fire safety, ventilation and hygiene, soundproofing, damp proofing, drainage, and waste disposal, protection from falling, collision and impact, conservation of power and fuel.
  • Without approval from the building codes department, alterations to a property may not meet the expected standard of safety and energy performance.

Repairs and maintainence the buyer should know:

  • 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.
  • In cases in which building codes are not first consulted. It may not meet the required safety and energy efficiency requirements.


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. Sometimes the form is called a “PIF” or a “TA6”. This form includes a wide range of questions that sellers must answer inclusive of information such as neighbors’ 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.
  • However, the property survey can be an invaluable aid here. An adverse property survey report isn’t usually a reason to panic, however. Get as much detail as you can, do the necessary sums, and communicate with the seller.


What are the risks to the home buyer?

  • The following risks could affect a new home buyer who purchases a property with building work. That does not have the proper permissions and approvals. In some cases, the buyer can demand the seller’s permission to build if the planning permission has been refused or the building regulations are broken, or if a building inspector has not signed off on the work:
    • 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. If you are planning to sell the property in the next few years, you may find that this issue will affect the number of potential buyers.
    • Cost of reversion or alteration
      • The council may enforce a building control or planning order against the property. The new owner would then need to pay for the cost of returning the building to the state it was in before the work (“reversion”) and to bring the work in line with current planning and building regulations.
    • Diminution of value
      • Moreover, These hazards can greatly impact the value of a property.
    • Enforcement notices
      • In addition, you might also lose your extension or have it modified if you violate the rules. If you don’t follow the rules, you might end yourself having your extension modified or destroyed, as well as being fined or imprisoned. – The right to appeal remains in effect regardless of whether you own the property or not.

What recourse does the new owner have if work is done without permission?

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, the new owner may instead opt to take out an indemnity policy. The policy will insure against the cost of work or losses should the council take enforcement action. However, if the council has already refused consent, the buyer may also find it impossible to take out a policy. It would be reasonable to expect the seller to pay for the policy, although these are not expensive.

However, having the insurance does not change the fact that the safety of the building may be in question. 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. An indemnity policy only covers repairs older than one year. If you do not provide a completion certificate for the work, the insurance policy will not be valid.

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