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Conservatory Issue

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by Disco Shoes, 19 Jul 2010.

  1. Disco Shoes

    Disco Shoes

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    Hi folks,

    We've been living in our current house for 3 years now. It's a standard victorian terrace and there is a reverse conservatory around the back of the property. This has been here for a good 7-10 years and was built well before our time.

    We've just had building regs in to OK a wall demolition and they took great interest in this conservatory claiming it isn't OK, as a former external wall was knocked through and there is no exterior door leading on to it. Now given that this house has been bought and sold at least twice before we bought it and we have altered NOTHING, should this have come up in our full structural survey and/or legal searches?

    Quite frankly, we can't afford any retrospective work and it seems grossly unfair for us to pay for the "sins" of previous owners?

    Any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated. To be frank, it is squeaky bottom time here.
     
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  3. DevilDamo

    DevilDamo

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    I can't see how they could take any (enforcement) action though... as their "limit" is usually within two years of completion of the build.

    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/HomeAndCommunity/Planning/BuildingRegulations/DG_4001372
     
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  4. RonnyRaygun

    RonnyRaygun

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    Isn't it possible that it complied when built?

    Or could the previous owners have had a whole house calc done to prove it no worse than a notional extended property?
     
  5. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    Whilst they won't take any enforcement action at this stage they may hold the Building Regulations Certificate for your new works as a ransom in order to ensure the illegal works are regularized.

    It would appear that whilst previous buyers/solicitors/surveyors have apparently all missed it you are the unlucky one.
     
  6. Disco Shoes

    Disco Shoes

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    Quite possibly. Given that we had a full survey done and all the usual legal stuff as well, you'd have thought something like this would have come up. Particularly as there were at least 2 purchases of this property (with conservatory) prior to ours.

    It just unsettles you when our local friendly buildings inspector says "and I'm going to check that conservatory out and write to them" on his way out the door to our builder. We don't want to stir up a hornets nest here but on the other hand, want to be prepared for any unpleasantries that might come our way. As I say, there is no money to put anything right and TBH I don't think we've done too much wrong here :(
     
  7. Disco Shoes

    Disco Shoes

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    Under this scenario, do we have a case against our solicitors who handled the purchase?
     
  8. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    Haven't got a clue as to the legalities, I suspect not though. Do you know if the works ever got Building Regs Approval? I suspect though that the realities of suing a solicitor would financially be far outweighed by just getting Regularisation!

    Do you know if the works ever got Building Regs Approval? They'll soon tell you if you ask.

    Worst case scenario is that this aspect would require Regularization which potentially (if no paperwork or calcs can be found) may involve exposing whatever beam/lintel was used to span the opening, potentially engineers calcs may be required to prove it is up to the job. If it is ok then just a repair to the wall and carry one otherwise a new beam & calcs of the correct size may need to be inserted but frankly were all getting ahead of ourselves here as none of this may be necessary. It also depend if the Inspector is reasonable or not!
     
  9. DevilDamo

    DevilDamo

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    I'd speak to your solicitor to see their view on it.

    However, if BC were only concerned about the removal of the wall and thus there is no external door leading into the conservatory from the house, you could always form a timber stud wall, with a new door and be done with it. However, as it appears removal of a part load bearing wall was part of this building process, they may ask for calculations/details for the beam(s) that went in.

    Ask BC what they'd like to see because if it's just a new door, the conservatory could be deemed as exempt from building regulation approval.
     
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  11. jeds

    jeds

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    Stop worrying. The local authority cannot take enforcement action on works older then 12 months. In theory they could take some other action such as a court injunction but they will only do that if the works are dangerous or a public nuisance. If the job appears structurally ok after 7-8 years there's nowt the LA can do about it.
     
  12. RonnyRaygun

    RonnyRaygun

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    The OP hasn't said anywhere that a load bearing wall has been removed.
    It's quite possible that there was already a window in place and the previous owner simply removed the brickwork below the window. In this case there will already be a lintel in place.
     
  13. DevilDamo

    DevilDamo

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    Yes they do...

     
  14. RonnyRaygun

    RonnyRaygun

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    That only says an external wall has been knocked through. Doesn't say it's a full width opening, therefore it's possible that the opening is where a window used to be :?:
     
  15. DevilDamo

    DevilDamo

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    Haha, stop changing the goalposts. You said...

    So I referred to the "former external wall" comment, which is a load bearing wall :p

    But yes, the OP doesn't mention if there was an existing window or even door located there. I'm only going on what the OP has already mentioned and that was a former external wall has been removed.
     
  16. RonnyRaygun

    RonnyRaygun

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    You know what? We need him to come back and clarify!! :rolleyes:

    Probably a moot point anyway... :confused:
     
  17. Disco Shoes

    Disco Shoes

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    Thanks for all your advice people - much appreciated.

    Truth is, I have no idea. There would have been a window or a door there at some stage, most probably a window and door as this would have been the original kitchen window/back door that led into the garden.

    I cannot believe that someone would get a steel up there (which there definitely is) without going through building regs first although one should never assume anything as they say. This is not a DIY job as this is a serious conservatory and a serious hole in the wall.

    I suppose given that it has been there for ages anyway, might the best route be to apply for retrospective planning permission for an extension? It's unlikely either neighbour would object as its been there for a long time anyway.
     
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