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Council wants to enforce loft

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by Darluc, 19 Jul 2016.

  1. Darluc

    Darluc

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    Hi
    I am just asking for advise. I have recently had my loft converted under PD rights. Following discussions with the neighbours it was agreed that I should raise the party walls in brick to match existing house as they intend to convert at a later date. The 20 cm setback was not maintained as the independant building inspector advised it is not a set requirement. The loft has now been completed with a completion certificate issued only to find myself that the Council are not happy with my loft and they consider taking enforcement. The reason given by them was the fact that I have raised the party walls and not maintained the 20 cm- making the extension look like an additional floor, even if it is under 40 sq m and respects all the requirements for PD.
    Having already contacted an arhitect and a party wall surveyer prior to the loft conversion and having building regulation in place, where do I stand? Are they entitled to give enforcement? Any advice is much apreciated. Picture is atached.
     

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  3. tony1851

    tony1851

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    Your BCO advised wrong; to qualify as permitted development, there should be a 20cm set back from the outer edge of the eaves tile/slates (among other things).
    Raising the party walls is a moot point.
    The bottom line is: is it a 'roof enlargement' or a complete additional storey? There doesn't seem to be any of the roof left, so the council may have a point.
    If the worst comes to the worst, you need to speak with whoever advised you, or drew the plans.
     
  4. oldbutnotdead

    oldbutnotdead

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    Hopefully your independent building inspectors'advice came in writing/email form not as a phone call- in any case building control are interested in technical compliance, they generally know (and care) nowt about planning.

    The 200mm setback is a key point- start looking in your neighbourhood for similar developments, see if anyone else has got away with the same trick.

    And yes the council are well within their rights/duties to challenge your project- in your favour it looks a tidy job, can't tell how well it sits with the neighbouring properties but you might want to have a chat with your neighbours and try and elicit their support.
     
  5. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    A building inspector can't advise on planning issues. If he was a council inspector then there could be a complaint and compromise, but as he is independent, that's a non starter.

    Planning control is distinct from party wall and building regulations, so you can't relate any of that to the fact that the work as built does not comply with PD rules.

    You will need to make a full planning application, and hope to convince the planners that the design is acceptable.

    Your plan drawer and advisor should be doing this for free, and tell him to hope that it passes, else expect a civil claim from you for his negligent advice.
     
  6. Nakajo

    Nakajo

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    Councils will sometimes accept the argument that the 200mm setback detail is unachievable for structural reasons. The point about raising the party wall seems a nonsense to me. This is exactly how councils should be insisting that this work is undertaken, for precisely the reason you've identified. The work has been done to a good standard. Have they got nothing better to do?
     
  7. Darluc

    Darluc

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    Well, initially their issue was the 20 cm setback. I have argued that it was pointless as the party wall was raised. That's where they got their ideas. Now I have a new issue . I have spend a lot of money on this loft conversion and now i am questioning why I have done it. I am mentally tired of trying to get a solution - taking it off or modifying is not an option for me. I have drawings from the arhitect showing the steel beam on top of the first floor. The builders inserted the beam 10 cm in as they considered the tiles, otherwise I would have been in an even bigger mess.
     
    Last edited: 19 Jul 2016
  8. oldbutnotdead

    oldbutnotdead

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    Don't despair- all is not lost. First off, you used an architect to draw the plans. Was he/she a real architect (RIBA) or a drawing technician? If the former then they should have been aware (and made it clear to you) that the 200mm setback was required for the job to be PD, they also carry indemnity insurance so as long as you've got a decent paper trail you shouldn't be financially disadvantaged by their failure.

    Second, it appears from your pic that the work has been done neatly and to a good standard, including raising the party walls to benefit your neighbour. Your pic doesn't show the street, if the addition doesn't stand out like a sore thumb then there is every chance that retrospective planning permission will be granted, especially since you've behaved like a good citizen and engaged professionals (who have served you poorly).

    Thirdly (as Woody said) your architect should be putting the pp application in for free since he's cocked up big style. If you've got written proof of your independent building inspectors' erroneous advice then that might be helpful- a decent solicitor might be able to build a case against him.
     
  9. Darluc

    Darluc

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    The arhitect stopped answerring his phone as soon as he realised I have a problem. I have now contacted several others which hopefully will get back to me in a timely maner. I intend to take legal action against him, but firstly I have to find out how much it will cost me to put things right. By the look of it he just lost another case with Newham where he has falsified planning permission and the council was happy with 600 pounds in compensation. I am one of the victims here and I believe that he is the reason why the council are pursuing most of his customers. I will make sure I vet my arhitect properly this time as I am not even sure if he is one any more.
     
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  11. Nakajo

    Nakajo

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    Real architects are 'ARB'. That said, they couldn't use the suffix RIBA if they weren't also ARB.
     
  12. Darluc

    Darluc

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    Also there are no modification visible from the front of the house except instalation of 2 velux windows. Will upload a picture tomorrow as it is to dark to take it now .
     
  13. oldbutnotdead

    oldbutnotdead

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    Talk to a solicitor in the morning. Stop phoning architect, start sending him recorded delivery letters. If he is a real architect (RIBA etc) then his professional body won't allow him to duck and run. If he's falsified his credentials then your solicitor may advise you to go to plod (think fraud is still a criminal charge).
     
  14. tony1851

    tony1851

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    @op, can you post pics of any drawings you have?
     
  15. Darluc

    Darluc

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    This is a picture of what he has drawn. The loft was not done as an l shape as i clearly said I am not looking for such a big extension. He argued that he put it down only for the purpose of the drawing and the fact that it comes under pd, but it is up to me how big i decide to do it.
     

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  16. Darluc

    Darluc

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    I have added another as it might be a bit clearer.
     

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  17. Darluc

    Darluc

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    This is a picture of the front roof
     

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