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Can you raise the ridge line within 150mm threshold in PD or does it need planning permission?

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by Theston.E.Fox, 25 Aug 2019.

  1. Theston.E.Fox

    Theston.E.Fox

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    I have recently employed a professional loft conversion company to carry out a basic roof light conversion (no dormer or anything).

    They used a private company who acted as the architect, structural engineer and building regs approved inspector.

    The SE calcs said a steel ridge beam was required, so the builder installed the ridge beam but then could not get the ridge tiles back on in their original position.

    The architect firm the loft company hired told them to just slightly increase the pitch of the roof and to fit a dry ridge system to get over the new beam and said this would come under permitted development.

    When they had completed the work, I was concerned that they had actually carried out work that was not permitted development, but the loft company got the architect to talk to me and he told me there were tolerances within permitted development that allowed them to do what they did without the need for planning permission.

    I spoke to the council to confirm this and one person at the council said it does not meet permitted development, but another person at the council (that the architect got in touch with) said it does meet permitted development.

    They were quoting this:

    Section 2 Part 1, Class C (c) of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015

    Which states:

    Development is not permitted by Class C if—

    (b)the alteration would protrude more than 0.15 metres beyond the plane of the slope of the original roof when measured from the perpendicular with the external surface of the original roof;

    And the architect was saying that the increase in ridge height is no more than 0.15 metres above the original ridge line so it was within permitted development.

    But the very next clause states

    Development is not permitted by Class C if—

    (c)it would result in the highest part of the alteration being higher than the highest part of the original roof; or

    And clearly the new ridge height is higher than the old ridge height and there is no 0.15 metre tolerance described there. So I believe the architect and loft company have done something that is not within permitted development.

    Even though the loft company are saying it's well within permitted development and I have nothing to worry about and that "no one would even notice"

    So....

    Firstly, can anyone confirm if this is permitted development

    Secondly, if it's not permitted development what is my best course of action to take next? The council said I need to apply for planning permission, but that doesn't help me much if the loft company is unwilling to correct their mistake and get the appropriate planning permission.

    The company is insured, so should this be an insurance claim where I basically say they caused me financial losses by needing planning permission on a job they told me was permitted development?

    Any independent advice would be greatly appreciated
     

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  2. A_Novice

    A_Novice

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    I would have just kept quiet.

    How were the council going to find out other than you alerting them to the issue.

    In my opinion (I'm not an architect of course) would be to just ignore it and get on and enjoy it.

    The council are too busy to go chasing around checking these sorts of things and they know not all things can be built to the plan as once a build starts unexpected issues crop up that may alter things slightly.

    Worst case they do ask for planning permission then you just do your own drawings and submit it for approx £200. Sorted.

    Unless I am missing something...

    Someone will be along soon much more qualified than me.
     
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  3. Theston.E.Fox

    Theston.E.Fox

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    What if we try and sell the property within the next couple of years and a solicitor picks up on the fact the roof height has changed and there is no planning permission to raise the height of the ridge. This would then be a sure fire thing for any potential sale to fall through.

    Or what if one of the neighbours notices the difference in roof height from their own house and complains to the council

    Keeping quiet only protects the loft company it doesn't protect me in any way as the home owner.
     
  4. A_Novice

    A_Novice

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    Solicitors don't drive round houses checking roof heights. They will see you had work done and check everything is in place. Certificates etc. They won't measure up the roof.

    How many of your neighbours would know the rules about permitted development? And of the ones that do be bothered to complain?

    I may shot down by someone in the know but I wouldn't be ringing the council trying to cause myself a problem.
     
  5. Theston.E.Fox

    Theston.E.Fox

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    Only takes one surveyor or neighbour to notice. Living by the "let's chance it, it's probably fine if no one notices" can only end badly for the home owner. If builders have that attitude to work then that is what gives builders a bad name. A good builder would ensure to stay within any legislation and provide sound advice and not the sort of advice as "ah well no one will notice we've breached permitted development"
     
  6. Notch7

    Notch7

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    Yes but you had a problem, got over it making the ridge higher.

    Architect was wrong, rules are rules.

    However, since it was the only practical option, the most sensible advice in that situation is just do it and keep quiet.

    Builders dont have that attitude -what they should have done is leave you to make the decision, its your house. You could have left the job half done for 8 weeks whilst obtaining permission......
     
  7. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    No you can't lift a ridge without planning permission
     
  8. Theston.E.Fox

    Theston.E.Fox

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    I'm fine with it being the only practical option, what I'm not fine with is the builder telling me it is within permitted development rights and I don't have to get planning permission.

    If the builder had done what you suggested and said to me "look we have a problem and we need to raise the ridge height a little bit, the best thing to do is to just do it and keep quiet about it, but if you're not happy with that then we can put in for planning permission and put the job on hold for 8 weeks" then that would be a totally different matter, I would have been included in the decision making process

    What actually happened was the builder raised the ridge, I said I was concerned with the work and would the council complain then the builder and the architect both told me there was nothing for me to worry about and all of the work was under permitted development. they also said they would inform the council of this work and get the green light from the council it was permitted development.

    The fact is, they didn't tell the council anything and it was only when I inquired I found out from the council they hadn't mentioned it at all and that the raise of the ridge was not permitted development.

    The clear point here is the builder did something without my knowledge or permission and when I queried it they either purposely knew they had done wrong and lied to me, or didn't understand the regulations and neglected to do their job properly.

    I was kept in the dark and told things that were not true, the only person down the line who will suffer from this approach is me, if someone does notice (e.g. surveyor, neighbour, council member) then the only one liable in the future is me. Right now, the builder is liable for the work I have pulled them up on, which is why staying quiet right now isn't a good idea, because if I stayed quiet then the builder/architect would have been able to cast reasonable doubt over the work even saying something like "it's nothing we did, we did it right a few years ago". But because I've got a clear paper trail of them misleading me (either purposefully or through their own neglect) then I'm in a much better position legally I believe.

    This is what I want the advice on, what is my next course of action dealing with this issue with the builder? Because they carried out the work in the way they did and gave me misinformation, should I expect them to put the issue right on their own cost?

    If at the time they said "look you need planning for this and it will cost you £xx" then I could have made that decision, but they didn't give me that option and now I'm in a situation where they want final payment and I'm not happy with the situation they've put me in.
     
  9. tony1851

    tony1851

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    You either get them to alter the ridge to bring the level down to what it should be (if that is difficult structurally, the council will not necessarily allow that as an excuse)
    or you apply for planning permission.
     
  10. Theston.E.Fox

    Theston.E.Fox

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    I understand that really the only way forward with this is correct planning permission to be obtained. I know I'm under the legal obligation as the home owner to submit this application.

    But I paid for a professional company to carry out the work and to handle all this red tape, they clearly haven't and have tried to pass off work as permitted development when it seems it is clearly not permitted development.

    So from a legal point of view, can I expect them to resolve their mistake and to do the planning application to ensure the work they carried out (with no instruction from me) is accepted in the eyes of the council.

    I feel this is a breach of the contract as they stated they would carry out the conversion within permitted development and they have not done that.

    Is there anyone who understands the legal angle on this issue?

    I don't want to have to deal with planning applications that are costly if I've just been dumped in this situation by someone trying to pull a fast one on me. As I said, if they were upfront and told me this needed planning and would take x weeks and cost £x then that's fine it's a decision I can take. But they took the decision away from me and tried to pass it off as permitted development. To me this is unacceptable behaviour from a professional firm and completely shady.
     
  11. tony1851

    tony1851

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    Had they told you from the outset that it needed planning permission, presumably you would have accepted that you would need to have paid for any drawings and the application fee? So in that sense you have not 'lost' anything.
    However, if an application was made and subsequently refused, it is likely that the LPA could issue enforcement proceedings. In that case, presumably you would need to claim from your adviser for the cost of remedial work, as you would have been wrongly advised that it was permitted development.
    (Slightly off topic but how come you needed a steel beam in the first place for a roof light?).
    PS: there is no 'tolerance' on dimensions of permitted development - the line has to be drawn somewhere. However, LPAs have discretion as to whether or not an enlargement is too much - some might regard 150 mm as too much, others might think it inconsequential.
     
  12. Theston.E.Fox

    Theston.E.Fox

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    Yeah if I had been made aware of the issue, then I probably would have stayed on the safe side and said ok fair enough lets put in for planning permission. But the fact was they told me it was permitted development and they would square it with the council, they didn't, they clearly lied to me to try and pull the wool over my eyes.

    Why I needed a steel ridge beam for just a roof light conversion is beyond me.... They said it is because the span of the loft is long (about 7.8metres) and was previously a truss roof. The floor steels are the biggest bits of steel I've ever seen too! they must be 45cm high and about 30cm thick, I was gobsmacked when they installed the supporting floor steels, I never thought they would be anywhere as near as big as that. But I'm not a structural engineer so I assumed they knew what was required (dubious though now after this debacle)
     
  13. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    The OP has suffered a loss. He has unlawful development, and that was from the moment the ridge was raised, and is not from the moment the work is finished.

    It sounds like there is no formal contract, but there is still a contract and despite any explicit terms to build to any plan, there is implied duty to build lawfully.

    As you mentioned earlier, the options are to alter the ridge or apply for permission.

    If the ridge is altered, the cost of doing that will be at the builder's expense, so perhaps no loss to the OP. Then there is the time factor of extending the works, and this may incur costs (ie loss) to the OP at some future time between the time the works should have finished and the date they eventually finish. He will need to define actual losses for that period, and not just make arbitrary losses up.

    If planning permission is applied for, that will be at the builder's cost, as the OP was not ever expecting to need to pay for planning permission if the builders had built a lawful conversion in accordance with PD. Any further costs and losses as a consequence of gaining or not gaining planning permission will also be losses to the OP and at the builder's expense.

    What the OP should do, is notify the designer, the builder and the engineer and their respective insurers of a potential claim. By notifying all increases the chance of a settlement as the three will tend to blame each other.

    If the OP has home insurance legal cover he should notify them to, as notice, not a claim at this stage.
     
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  14. Theston.E.Fox

    Theston.E.Fox

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    I do actually have a formal contract which is a building agreement from The Guild of Master Craftsmen which outlines the work. Which they are in breach of by carrying out work that needs planning permission when they stated the whole thing was under permitted development.

    The loft conversion company (who i have the contract with) hired the services of the other company who did the architectural work, structural engineering work and are also the approved inspectors. It is this 3rd party company who has made the mistake ultimately by telling the loft conversion company they can do the work under permitted development, but that isn't my issue, that is an issue for the loft conversion company to take up with the company they hired. My issue lies directly with the loft conversion company.

    Thanks for your insight ^woody^ I will see how the company want to handle it this week (after the bank holiday) and if they try and wash their hands of it, I will seek legal advice as I believe this is a breach of contract case.
     
  15. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    You've got several parties involved, and this makes it more difficult (ie more onerous on you) to prove who owed a duty to who, and thus prove breach of contract.
     
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