Our Guide to Planning Permission and Building Control


So,  that dream home you bought years ago no longer feels like much of a dream – in fact, it may be turning into more of a logistical nightmare as your family grows and the house seems to shrink in size!

While many people in a position like this may sell up and ship out, some people may not want to leave their home and area and instead may decide to extensively renovate or extend their home.

Renovation works can be a major undertaking and quite daunting when it comes to the associated paperwork.   Frequently, this paperwork can be overlooked at the time the renovation work is being done  and this can cause issues should you eventually decide to sell your property further down the line.

Here’s our helpful guide to the approvals you may need when doing work to your home.

What is the difference between Planning Permission and Building Control?

For many types of building work, both Planning Permission and Building Control will be required but separate approvals  will need to be sought.  So what is the difference?

Building Control is primarily concerned that the building is constructed and designed in such a way to ensure the health and safety of people who us or are about those buildings.  Building Control deals with areas such as the structure of the building, fire and electrical safety, ventilation, hygiene and drainage as well as access and facilities for those who are disabled.

On the other hand, Planning Permission is all about the way our cities and countryside develops.  Planning looks at how land is used, the appearance of buildings, landscaping considerations, and the impact that the works may have on the environment around them.

For other types of work, such as internal alterations, Building Control approval will probably be needed but planning may not be.   You should always check with your both the Planning Office and Council to see what approvals if any you will need before starting any works.

What approvals will I need when renovating my house?

Depending on the type of alteration you are planning to do, you may require Planning Permission.   Planning Permission can be quite technical with many exemptions and your architect will be able to advise you on what is required.  Once Planning Permission is obtained, you should read it carefully and make sure you comply with all the terms. Often, Planning Permission will be dependent on certain criteria being fulfilled before work can start and the permission will have an expiry date.  Your local Council may also have to approve the works – this is  known as Building Control Approval of Plans.

Once works are underway, your local Council may wish to inspect them throughout construction, and once finished, they will issue a Building Control Completion Certificate to show the works are of a minimum required standard.

I didn’t realise I needed Building Control approval – what do I do?

Often, homeowners may not be aware that a smaller project of work that they are undertaking may require Building Control – for example, a ‘like for like’ boiler replacement, conversion to gas heating or the installation of cavity wall insulation.  This can often result in the work being carried out without the necessary Building Control approvals being in place beforehand.  Should the necessary approval not be obtained at the time the work is being carried out, this can be obtained retrospectively and the approval is then known as a Regularisation Certificate. If remedial works are required to bring the work up to the minimum standard necessary, the Council will not issue the Certificate until these works are done.

What would happen if I didn’t get Planning Permission or Building Control approval?

Without the correct Planning Permission and Building Control being in place, you may encounter difficulties selling your home.  If the purchaser of your home is buying it with the assistance of a mortgage, then their mortgage company will require proof that the correct planning permission and building control consents are in place.   It is worth obtaining all of the proper consents at the time the works are carried out and keeping all of documentation safely until you sell.

RFlinnRuth Flinn is a Solicitor in the Property Law Department of Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors. She is experienced in all areas of residential conveyancing. If you require any further information on planning permission or building control issues,  please feel free to CONTACT US HERE or contact Ruth on rflinn@fhanna.co.uk