Updated: Mar 10
It wasn’t very long ago when, if you felt that you needed more room, you put your house on the market and moved. Now more and more people are considering extensions to their existing property as an economical way of creating the additional space that they seek. If you are contemplating extending your own property (in any direction!), or are thinking of buying a house with a view to future expansion there are a number of issues that you will need to consider.
While planning law and building regulations are very important (and a breach of these may be catastrophic) the fact that you have obtained the necessary consents does not mean that there cannot be any other problems. If planning consent and/or building regulation approval is required the Local Authority have strict rules that they must follow and they are only permitted to take into account particular aspects of the posed extension in deciding whether or not to allow it to go ahead. Further details of the planning and building regulation position can be found here.
The Local Authority is not required to consider whether there are any restrictions in a property’s title deeds that might prevent existing buildings being extended, nor does it have to give any particular weight to rights that adjoining owners may enjoy.
It is often the case that properties are built upon the land that was once part of a bigger plot. When the larger plot was divided it may well be that the seller included a provision in the sale documentation that restricted the number, size, or style of any building that could be built on the part being sold. Sometimes these “restrictive covenants” as they are known were imposed many years ago.
In addition adjoining owners may have benefited from, for example, a right of light coming into their property over a period of many years and a proposed extension may interfere with that right.
There is little that is more upsetting than a protracted dispute with a neighbour and of course such disagreements have an unfortunate tendency to escalate into extremely expensive litigation. It is, therefore, always prudent to obtain appropriate advice before embarking upon extension works. If you are thinking of buying a property with a view to increasing the size of any building upon it careful enquiry should be made before you contract to proceed with the purchase.
Further advice in respect of any of these matters is available from our Property Department. Please contact Kelly Mitchell for further details.