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loft extension - council want me to knock it down!

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by mzt, 8 Apr 2014.

  1. mzt

    mzt

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    Hi Ladies and Gents,

    Just really really wanted some advice. So after many many years of saving up, we finally were able to build a loft! We built it looking pretty identical to my neighbors loft to make sure everything was in order. We even paid the council a fee and had the application drawn up by an architect to get a certificate of lawfulness for permitted development.

    So we built the loft, all was well. The neighbour who had already built their loft did not build on the party wall both houses share. they built within their own side of the party wall and tiled their wall facing our house. If we were to do the same, it would leave a gap between both houses and it would be impossible for us to tile our side of the wall as the gap would be around 50cm between both walls. Therefore we spoke to our neighbour and agreed that we will build up on our half of the party wall and we did work to construct both roofs together at the top. So our loft was built completely on our side and we joined the roof at the top of both houses to prevent water leaking in the gap. My neighbour was really happy with this as it secures his side of the house well.

    After completing the work, we received a letter from the council nearly 5 months after we started the work on site. (the job was completed within 2 months). I understand the complaint the council received was about 4 months before the council made us aware of the complaint. Why did they not inform us earlier while the work was going on? The council claim they made a site visit and viewed from behind my house using the side road without telling us and thought because the work was still in progress, they wont take action just yet. So they waited for us to complete all the work and made another trip 4 months later and then decided to take action?!

    The council have stated:

    ''Whilst the case was opened on 10 October 2013 it was noted by Council Officers at that time that such work was only just beginning. A review of Council’s records confirmed a Certificate of Lawfulness (CLP) for a proposed loft conversion had been granted and therefore officers held off from undertaking any further investigation at that stage given that our initial observations indicated that was the development to be carried out. A more recent site visit confirmed that the completed development does not accord with the approved CLP plans, nor does it meet permitted development under Schedule 2, Part 1, Class B of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended).

    As stated in my letters dated 20 February and 8 March, planning permission is required for the extension in its current form, however, it is the opinion of officers that an application if submitted would not be supported by the Council. Instead you are requested to modify the development so that it is in accordance with the approved CLP.

    To clarify, the dormer shall be set back at least 200mm from the eaves, please refer to the guidance leaflet attached. Furthermore, the dormer shall be set back from the gable end and fire wall adjoining the neighbouring property rather than being an extension of these walls.

    The Council requests that such alterations are undertaken within 60 days of the date of this email. Failure to undertake the required alterations within this timeframe will result in the service of an enforcement notice (under Section 172 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 [as amended]), requiring the unauthorised development to be removed.''


    I am at complete loss as what to do. For us to break down the dormer and rebuild will cost us 20k or so, money we simply do not have. Whats worse is that my neighbours are more than happy with it, I believe the complaint may have come from the neighbours across the road. Is there anything we can do to prevent me having to break it down with 60 days? I feel the council did not act appropriately in informing us after we had completed all the work when they could have informed us far earlier when they made the initial visit when work was being carried out. Surely they have a responsibility to inform us of the complaint earlier? Can my Neighbour not inform the council they are happy with the way it has been built? I also do not understand how we are even supposed to tile the wall if they want us to keep a small gap. It makes no sense to me and really need some support. I would struggle to afford legal help to fight the council on this matter so really need some advice?

    Sorry if i have rambled on and if I do not sound very clear, I am just really stressed at the moment!

    Kindest regards
     
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  3. noseall

    noseall

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    Seems pretty clear to me.

    You had plans which satisfied planning and P.D. rules but chose to ignore them and build it how you wanted to. Correct?

    And now you are being asked to comply?
     
  4. mzt

    mzt

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    i guess we made a mistake however surely the council should have notified us of the complaint? also the fact that the neighbours are more than happy with how it has been made surely should mean something? also they have not advised how the loft would then be tiled in a gap so small, the wall would be damp ridden in months.

    i just want to know if there is anything we can do without going financially bust? could a joint application by us and our neighbour be put in to try and get this approved?
     
  5. noseall

    noseall

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    It is not just the connection to the neighbours wall that is contentious but also the lack of set-back from the eaves.

    "To clarify, the dormer shall be set back at least 200mm from the eaves, please refer to the guidance leaflet attached."

    Why on earth did you not build it as per drawing?
     
  6. noseall

    noseall

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    They did.

    The council would have been in no position to contest the build until the build was complete i.e. that you have had time to realize the mistake whilst the build was ongoing and rectify the mistake.

    It would have only been once you had submitted a completion that the building would have been deemed 'finished'.
     
  7. jeds

    jeds

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    You explain about the connection with the adjoining neighbour but that's not the problem. The problem is the 200mm set back - which has nothing to do with the neighbour. Why did you not set it back? It is a common issue with dormer extensions. It doesn't comply with PD rules and I know of no appeal decision that supports less than a 200mm set back.
     
  8. tony1851

    tony1851

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    Enforcement departments always go in with guns blazing. Rather than knock the whole thing down, why not just adapt it to set the outer wall in by the required distance?
    Obviously the dormer front wwould have to come off and be rebuilt, but the floor would stay, and the roof would just need to be cut back by the required amount.
     
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  10. DevilDamo

    DevilDamo

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    Just to echo what others have said... you have built something that is not Planning approved. Either modify or remove it. They're the only options you have.

    Or... you could look at submitting a formal Householder application, which will take eight weeks but there is no guarantee you will get approval, especially if you have already got their back up about unauthorised works.
     
  11. SimonH2

    SimonH2

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    Can't argue with that. How far back is it set - measured on the roof slope, excluding the guttering ?
    Ask them where the law says this.
    AIUI, raising up the gale wall is permitted, but different councils take different views. Technically, raising the party wll is an issue because the half of the party wall, plus the bridging bit between your dormers, isn't part of your property and therefore the extension isn't entirely within the curtilage of your property - but it would be completely legal if your neighbour completely coincidentally, had built up their half of the party wall and filled in the gap ;)

    There's an interesting discussion of this in "Loft Conversions" by John Coutts
     
  12. cjard

    cjard

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    Insulate the rear wall of your house with 200mm of kingspan and add another row of tiles at the eaves...
     
  13. mzt

    mzt

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    right, well here is some update!

    many thanks for everyones advice, i do really appreciate it you taking your time out to help an old fool like me!

    well the council came round and said, the hip to gable extension we have is not allowed. we have a corner property and the hip to gable extension has been built using bricks rather than roof tiles.

    to help visual, here are some pictures.

    this is what the council want it to be like -

    http://www.innerspacelofts.co.uk/img/hip-to-gable-rear-dormer2.jpg

    however we have built it using bricks and this is what it looks like -

    http://www.loft-extensions.co.uk/css/csscomp/hip.jpg

    the second picture is not my house but very similar except we used bricks to match the bricks of our house. it says in permitted development that the development should match your house and we did exactly that. the council claim that they would never approve a brick wall as this is now a '3 story house rather than a loft extension?!'

    i asked the, where does it state it cant be brick work, they stated we do not accept bricks and thats it. however i have checked this out and it states on the planning portal website - ''Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house''.

    now in regards to the 200mm setback, on planning portal it states -

    the edge of the enlargement closest to the eaves of the original roof
    shall, so far as practicable, be not less than 20 centimetres from the
    eaves, measured along the roof slope from the outside edge of the
    eaves; and

    (ii) other than in the case of an enlargement which joins the original roof
    to the roof of a rear or side extension, no part of the enlargement
    extends beyond the outside face of any external wall of the original
    dwellinghouse


    we have constructed an L shape dormer like this -

    http://www.london-loftconversion.co.uk/L-shape dormer.jpg

    the height of the dormer behind is higher than the one in front and i have also read elsewhere that the 200mm setback does not apply if it can be proved that for structural reasons. now clearly is you have one dormer that is higher than the other, they should sit flush together and therefore to have a setback would make no sense as the height difference would make it a poor structure to have a gap in between.

    so that leaves the setback on the final dormer which is the end of the 'L shape', this is where we have made a mistake. we had the roof re-tiled. the older tiles where a different size and look, the builder did do a 200m setback for the roof based on the older tiles. however by re-tiling the roof, the setback has now fallen short as the eaves are no longer where they were!

    do i extend the tiles? do i have a right to keep the brick work for the hip to gable? do i have a right to keep the two dormers joining flush at less than a 200mm setback?
     
  14. tony1851

    tony1851

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    The hip-to-gable conversion is allowed; further, a hip-to-gable can, by definition in the rules, be built directly above the side gable (ie 20cm set-back not required). In that case, it would look ridiculous if you carried the wall up in tile rather than brick. As stated, 'materials should match those of the house', so new wall material should match existing wall material.

    Look at number 6 on this;
    http://planningjungle.com/wp-conten...-10-Worst-Permitted-Development-Loopholes.pdf

    With regard to the set-back of the dormer fronts, the recent revision to the Guidance appears to state that the 20cm set-back is not required when one roof enlargement meets another at right angles. The literal interpretation of the wording in the new regulations seems to allow that.

    Personally, I would not take this lying down. If the council seems set on taking action, you need to make it clear that you will do an appeal.
     
  15. ey143

    ey143

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    mzt - how did this all end?
     
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