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Buying an extended house - no final building regs sign off

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by Inky1, 30 Dec 2019.

  1. Inky1

    Inky1

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    Hello

    I'm new here - please be gentle with me.

    I've found a house that I've had an offer accepted on. It all felt too easy. If it's too good to be true...

    The vendor (former estate agent) told me lots of things about the house but only informed me after my offer was accepted that the loft extension didn't get the final building regs sign off. They say they started on it in 2004 and finished it 2009. They have a certificate of lawful development and say that it was inspected after each stage - but claim the building dept kept all records and they have no evidence. They say they didn't realise there was a deadline and were told at the time to get an indemnity policy if they were to sell.

    I have looked at lots of websites and forums and the info/advice seems to be varied and conflicting so I am now very confused.

    I called the local council who told me there is no deadline and they would be happy to visit the property and inspect it for no fee. I did not give them the address as from what I've read, this may mean that they can't put an indemnity in place. Is this correct?

    They also built a rear extension (9yrs ago) saying that due to the hassles of the loft sign off, they did not get any permission or sign off as it's less than 3 meters in height and width.

    So, they have offered to buy an indemnity for both extensions. I have asked the estate agent (who advertise it as a 4 bed, but from what I read, they can't do this as the 4th room hasn't been signed off - is this correct?) to ask the vendor to contact the council but they are being very slow in getting back to me, but it is Xmas etc.

    Some sites say the indemnity stays with the house and gets passed on to the next buyer. However, some sites say that I'll have to get a new indemnity if I sell. If the council finds out that building regs sign off did not occur, then the policy could become invalid! What's to stop anyone making a general enquiry and therefore invalidating it?

    I'm also very confused by the 4 yr and 10 yr rules. Some sites say the extensions would not have to be knocked down as they have been standing for over this time, but some say orheriwse.

    I have not instructed a surveyor or solicitor as yet as I do wish to waste money. I'm trying to get my head around all of the potential issues and solutions first, so I would value any advice.

    Many thanks
     
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  3. If you have made an offer and it has been accepted what can you do next if you don't involve a solicitor ,they are the people to advise on the legal situation :?::!:
    I would be a bit wary considering the vendor is a former estate agent , who would presumably have been involved in a lot of house sales and would know what is right or wrong, but delayed telling you about the loft situation :!::cautious:
    I wouldn't know about the indemnity that is being offered for the building work that has been done, I would think only a solicitor could assure you on that.
    I have only been involved with building work that received building regs approval so these situations where people say there is no evidence of what has gone on seem a bit 'dodgey' to me :!:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 31 Dec 2019
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  4. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Lots can go wrong with lofts, and opening up for inspection can be expensive.

    If it was an extension, I'd say just get it looked over as part of your building survey. But not for lofts.

    Don't accept an indemnity insurance. Instead get the seller to get the final inspection done at his expense, and if there are outstanding issues to be rectified he can sort those out to at his expense, not yours.

    This was shifty for an estate agent to spring on you. So I wonder why he did this when he knows what's involved.

    The planning issue (4 and 10 year rule) and certificate of lawful development, have nothing to do with building regulations.
     
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  5. Inky1

    Inky1

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    Thank you both.

    Could you tell me why the 4 and 10 year rule and cert of lawfulness have nothing to do with building regulations? Is the cert meaningless?

    Also, is it true that if I discussed the address with the local planning department, then then any indemnity would become invalid?
     
  6. Notch7

    Notch7

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    Because they apply only to planning.

    Have you searched the planning portal to see whats on there for the house.

    The venders are either clueless or dishonest.......

    Cert of lawfulness has nowt to do with building regs.

    If it was inspected at each stage, why did they not bother to get it signed off?
    Because:
    Either they never applied
    Or the inspector found the job non compliant and the cost of remedial too great, so it never got signed off.

    Implies the latter.


    Size doesnt matter to building regs.

    It sounds like a DIY job to me.
     
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  7. IT Minion

    IT Minion

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    To give more detail: planning permission tells you what you can build. Lawful development certificates and permitted development are just versions of that. Your vendors seem to have permission to build a loft conversion.

    Building regulations are about how you build the thing so it doesn't fall down. Your vendors haven't proven it won't fall down.
     
    Last edited: 31 Dec 2019
  8. jonbey

    jonbey

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    If you really like the house you could tell them that in light of 2 extensions that have not been signed off you need to revise your offer.
    Personally, I would not rely on an insurance policy - if the insurers think that you knew of a problem then they might not pay out - insurance small print usually says something along these lines, doesn't it? Not sure how these policies work tbh, but like estate agents, don't put your faith, and life savings, into trusting them.

    I know a house near me took ages to sell because a loft conversion didn't have building regs. Think it went for around £20-30k less than they wanted.

    Expect to pay £40k for a loft and £30k ish for a small single storey extension - that's a lot to fix if there's a problem...

    A tricky one. If it is a dream house in a perfect location, then might be worth haggling on the price and taking a gamble. If not, then buy a smaller, cheaper house and get it extended the way you want it.
     
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  9. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    If a loft conversion does not have building regulation completion cert, then its not finished and the implications of that are
    • It can not be lawfully occupied/ used
    • It can not be sold as a extra bedroom in the sales particulars
    • The sale price should not be inflated for the extra bedroom
    • The occupier needs to record "ongoing building works" with the insurers
    • The home insurance policies may be invalid or cover significantly reduced in any claim
    • Mortgage implications for occupying the unlawful conversion
    An estate agent knows all this, so there are the joint issues of not only an estate agent selling this as the owner, but also an estate agent marketing this as an agent - codes of practice and CPR requirements and all that. It should not be marketed as a complete conversion - someone has lied.
     
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  11. Building regs are about more than just structural matters .
     
  12. IT Minion

    IT Minion

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    True, but it's probably the top item on the list. Especially with loft conversions.
     
  13. Inky1 - you should now have enough information to go back to this estate agent with some questions :!:
     
  14. oldbutnotdead

    oldbutnotdead

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    And in view of these discoveries, have another read of the vendor pack (where such matters should be declared).....especially given the vendors' former occupation he should be well aware of how these things work and is sailing very close to fraud. Presumably he hasn't committed anything in writing to you about these irregularities?
     
  15. Nakajo

    Nakajo

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    "it's probably the top item on the list" - well, it's literally the top item on the list. The list proceeds alphabetically through the Building Regs Approved Documents. A is Structure.
     
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  16. Presume that is a joke. :ROFLMAO:For those not familiar with bldg. regs the Approved Documents are not listed in order of importance :!:
     
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  17. pilsbury

    pilsbury

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    Am I correct in thinking that indemnity insurance is really not worth the paper it's written on? It does not cover you if the work is shoddy and falls down or needs expensive remedial work. It is merely for legal costs should the council discover this is not a legal build. Then you'll have to knock it down anyway at your expense.
     
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