An Englishman’s home was his castle, but not for very long...
ALWAYS dreamed of building your own home and think you might have found the perfect plot? Running out of space and thinking about extending rather than moving? Stop.
Before you go any further, consider the cautionary tales of two men who built without permission.
Recently, Robert Fidler, a farmer in Surrey, learned that his mock Tudor castle – complete with ramparts and a cannon – couldn’t be saved from demolition. Built without planning permission in 2002, the luxury home was hidden behind a wall of hay bales and tarpaulin until 2006 when the Fidlers attempted to claim immunity from planning enforcement rules. After three years of appeals, a High Court judge has ruled against Mr Fidler, who must now demolish his castle.
Peter Howell lost a similar battle last year after building a £400,000 five-bedroomed house in Ingleby Arncliffe, North Yorkshire without planning permission.
The house, judged to be dominant and visually intrusive due to its height, bulk and colour, was demolished on June 15 after a five-year battle that included the rejection of five retrospective planning applications, the dismissal of two appeals and Mr Howell losing the house to the Royal Bank of Scotland.
To avoid paying a similar price, take the time to plan, get as much advice as you can and make sure you get all the necessary permissions. 1. Permission First, Building Second.
Find out what permission is needed and make that your priority. For self-builders, having the necessary permissions in place is key as it unlocks the value of the land. For anyone extending or remodelling it is possible that, under permitted development rights, planning won’t be needed. However, other restrictions could apply and in some cases your local authority could have removed your permitted development rights so it’s always worth giving them a call to check. Visit www.planningportal.gov.uk. 2 Know the Building Regulations.
Even if you don’t need planning permission, building regulations approval is usually necessary. These set out minimum requirements for structural integrity, fire safety, energy efficiency, damp proofing, ventilation and other key aspects that ensure a building is safe. You can begin work immediately after giving the local authority building control department 48 hours’ notice together with a plan and the fee. Work will be inspected on site for compliance so make sure you trust your builder. 3. Know when to employ a professional.
Successful building is getting the right balance between using the professionals and doing it yourself . Always consider an architect or designer – they can often make all the difference. If it’s complex, you may need a professional planning consultant who will “speak” the language of the local authority. 4. Design to suit the house or plot
It’s a bad idea to set your heart on a particular size, style or design of house or extension. If you’re building a house from scratch, suitable land is so scarce you will almost always have to design a house to suit the constraints of the plot. If you are thinking of extending, the shape of your plot will influence what can be built and the proximity of neighbouring houses will dictate where you can put windows. Flexibility in design and approach will maximise your chance of success. 5. Know the rules of the game. If you are new to this game, its rules can be quite confusing. Small-scale planning decisions for individual houses or extensions are based mainly on policies that are contained in local Development Plan documents. There may also be a local design statement which impacts on what the parish council will approve. Policies and design statements can vary dramatically from one local authority or area to another, so it is possible to get planning permission for something on one side of the road but be refused permission for exactly the same development on the other. Read up on your Local Plan or design statement. 6 Love thy neighbour. Whatever the size of your building project, keep the neighbours informed. Objections can cause you a real headache: even though they might not have strong planning grounds, they can have a negative political impact and cause considerable delay. Petty local politics can play a disproportionate role. 7. Know the Party Wall Act. If you’re extending, conforming to the Party Wall Act is a legal requirement and not a planning or building control matter. If you’re building or digging foundations within 3m of the boundary, party wall or party wall structure, or if you are digging foundations within 6m of a boundary, the work will require you to comply with the Act. You will need to issue a notice to your neighbours and you may need a surveyor to act on your behalf. Download a free information book from www.communities. gov.uk. 8. Beware of removing trees. It is a criminal offence to cut down a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order ( TPO). You cannot alter or even prune a tree that has a TPO on it without permission. All trees within a Conservation Area are protected. 9. Do your homework. Do your research before you start. Contact your local planning office or visit the Government website www.planningportal.gov.uk. Homebuilding and Renovating magazine is a good source of information, as are the Homebuilding and Renovating shows.