Retrospective Building Regs....conservatory!

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We are in the process of selling our house and the buyers solicitor raised some queries about some work we had done to the house when we bought it 7 years ago.

The works involved removing the UPVC doors between the kitchen and conservatory, making the opening a bit wider (1.92m wide) and installing steel to support the remainder of the back wall of the house. We also have the polycarbonate roof on the conservatory replaced with lights weight synthetic tiles together with insulation and plasterboard.

The bit that has cropped up is that we didn’t get building regs approval for the steel supporting the back wall so the buyers solicitors have asked for a regularisation certificate.

The issue is, having spoken to our councils building control dept, as we have also replaced the roof on the conservatory, the conservatory will now need to conform to building regs entirely so they have said they will need to:

1) Check the foundations of the conservatory to ensure they can adequately support the new (7 year old) roof.
2) We need to provide thermal calculations for both the kitchen and the conservatory.
3. We need to install a new fire alarm system with a linked heat detector in the kitchen.
4. Check the steel of the opening to make sure it’s adequate.

What I’d like to know is, can I reasonably request from the council for building regs just to inspect the opening and not the conservatory?

If not, how do I go about getting thermal calculations for the kitchen and conservatory and how do I know what’s good and what’s bad?

Kinda feel like we are opening a can of worms here but I suspect any future sale is going to be problematic unless we get this sorted.
 
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Hm, wish you'd asked us before speaking to BC
My conversation with building regs was 100% anonymous. Didn’t give a name, address, phone number, nothing.

My solicitor had already advised to not give them any identifiable info.
 
Too long ago to be enforced. Tell the buyer there is no certificate. He can get it surveyed himself or pull out.
 
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Too long ago to be enforced. Tell the buyer there is no certificate. He can get it surveyed himself or pull out.
Correct; the council cannot now take any enforcement action over the changes.

However, as the OP is selling, this issue will keep cropping up as successive potential buyers speak with their solicitors; and we all know how little conveyancing solicitors know about Planning and Building Regulations matters. The slightest bit of doubt or uncertainty will put buyers off.

Potentially the biggest problem is that the structure is open to the house. Maybe the way forward would be to reinstate external grade doors in the opening, and then deal with the conservatory separately.
 

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What I’d like to know is, can I reasonably request from the council for building regs just to inspect the opening and not the conservatory?
You can certainly apply, but the risk is that any inspector will see the other unauthorised contraventions mention that to you (which obliges you to inform the buyers and both your solicitors) and the inspector may well then note his observations on the property file which gets picked up on future enquiries/ searches.

There are powers to injunct against any building work that is deemed a life safety issue irrespective of any time limits.
 
There are powers to injunct against any building work that is deemed a life safety issue irrespective of any time limits.

....but which are rarely used, and in this case almost certainly wouldn't be used against a lightweight roof which has been up 7 years.
 
Thanks for the comments.

I should have mentioned that this particular buyer has pulled out as we refused to get building regs involved, but I want to try and resolve this (or satisfy myself) before remarketing the house.

The issue for the buyer I believe is that the solicitor has ‘spooked’ them. They have seen the opening, they know it’s fine and actually said that one of the things they like about the house is the open plan layout.

What the solicitor has seemingly done though is plant sufficient doubt in their minds about the structural integrity of the work. The buyers wanted building regs to ‘prove’ the work in creating the wider opening is structurally sound (despite the fact it’s been as it is for 7 years).

We have looked at having new external grade doors fitted, although that will ruin the house in my opinion as we would need to alter the layout of the kitchen to make space for the doors, but our solicitor said the current buyers solicitor would likely still want building regs certificate because the doors had, at some point, been removed.
 
would indemnity insurance not satisfy the buyers solicitors?

the problem these days is that the agreed offer price is not the actual selling price any more

almost every house sale now seems to use the survey as leverage for more money off -you can bet yer boots a non compliant structure would be a good one to knock £10 off
 
Thanks for the comments.

I should have mentioned that this particular buyer has pulled out as we refused to get building regs involved, but I want to try and resolve this (or satisfy myself) before remarketing the house.

The issue for the buyer I believe is that the solicitor has ‘spooked’ them. They have seen the opening, they know it’s fine and actually said that one of the things they like about the house is the open plan layout.

What the solicitor has seemingly done though is plant sufficient doubt in their minds about the structural integrity of the work. The buyers wanted building regs to ‘prove’ the work in creating the wider opening is structurally sound (despite the fact it’s been as it is for 7 years).

We have looked at having new external grade doors fitted, although that will ruin the house in my opinion as we would need to alter the layout of the kitchen to make space for the doors, but our solicitor said the current buyers solicitor would likely still want building regs certificate because the doors had, at some point, been removed.

its a proper nightmare these days...solicitors know nothing about building works and house surveys are now deliberately written, often with demonstrable lies for blackmail.


when you put it back on the market, be prepared you will almost certainly have to drop the price after this gets picked up by the survey.

if you price condition yourself for it, it wont be as painful.
 
would indemnity insurance not satisfy the buyers solicitors?

the problem these days is that the agreed offer price is not the actual selling price any more

almost every house sale now seems to use the survey as leverage for more money off -you can bet yer boots a non compliant structure would be a good one to knock £10 off

We/our solicitors offered an indemnity policy several times and each time the buyers solicitor pushed for a regularisation certificate. We genuinely looked into getting what they requested but just felt it was too invasive to do and certainly not in our financial capabilities at the moment. Let alone the delay it could cause if anything needs a builder to rectify as friends are having an extension built at the moment and the builders are booked up for months.

its a proper nightmare these days...solicitors know nothing about building works and house surveys are now deliberately written, often with demonstrable lies for blackmail.

when you put it back on the market, be prepared you will almost certainly have to drop the price after this gets picked up by the survey.

if you price condition yourself for it, it wont be as painful.

See this is the thing, the buyer hadn’t even had a survey done. If they had, a surveyor could have advised them ‘yes it appears safe’ or could have advised them how much it could cost to rectify if it’s not safe (which it is), but I don’t know whether they were trying to get by without a survey.

Prices have actually gone up significantly since we accepted the buyers offer 6 weeks ago, so they are going to struggle to find something else in the area. I half wonder (hope) whether they will have regret and change their minds when they realise the next cheapest house of a similar size in the area is £50k more than the offer we accepted (which was £20k over asking).
 
Indemnity insurance only protects the legal side should the council take action - it wouldn't cover the cost of remediation work.
But in this instance it would be a waste of money because the council would be time-barred from taking any action.
(presumably the solicitors get a little kick-back when they promote these useless things).
 

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