For some homeowners, the process of building an extension can be fraught with bureaucracy and red tape. In many instances, families are left facing bills of up to £1,000 in local authority planning application costs, even when the extension is entirely necessary (for example, to create more space in the home after the birth of a child) or of a non-intrusive nature (if the planned extension would have zero impact on the quality of life of those residing in neighbouring properties).
Thankfully, there’s good news for the vast majority of homeowners. New regulations mean that many will now be able to build larger extensions without having to go through the rigmarole of obtaining full local council approval. The government estimates that some 80,000 households will benefit from the new ruling, which could also spell good news for landlords too – an extra room equals an extra tenant, which generates business and goes some way to solving the current housing crisis.
That’s not to say that first-time owners won’t benefit either – the addition of an extension can drastically increase the price of a property, particularly when the additional space has been professionally constructed and matches the aesthetic of the original build.
What do the new rules mean? Let’s take a look at how the new legislation will benefit homeowners:
Homeowners are now allowed to build extensions up to 8 metres projection, doubling the previous permitted allowance. This will undoubtedly help thousands of families to unlock the true potential of their homes – in terms of increasing both property value and quality of life. It’s worth noting that a single extension of 8 may also negate the need for a two build in terms of space.
Extensions on semi-detached homes could not exceed a paltry 3 metres, rendering the prospect of a worthwhile extension near-impossible without planning permission.
Semi-detached homeowners are now permitted to build extensions up to 6 metres. In the same vein as detached homes, there is now realistic scope to make significant home improvements with a simplified approval process and neighbour consultation.
The extension must not feature “outlandish” material. If the extension does not match the aesthetic of the current exterior of the property, the homeowner must seek the permission of the local council before work commences.
In an increasingly culturally diverse landscape, it’s likely that councils will take personal preferences into account – it’s long been accepted that the interior of the home should reflect the personality of the owner or tenant, and there’s no reason why the exterior shouldn’t either – within reason, of course.
Single storey extensions can be a maximum of four metres in height.
Nothing much has changed here, but let’s face it – it’s doubtful that the four metre height limit will affect many (if any) homeowners seeking to build a single storey extension – although it’s probably bad news for any eccentrics hoping to build a 100ft tower to complement their suburban semi.
The new rules have essentially doubled the floor space for permitted developments, allowing property owners to significantly increase both the area and the value of their homes.
In July 2015, George Osborne announced even further relaxations to planning laws, which have been detailed in a recent government report entitled “Fixing the Foundations”, which coincided with the recent budget.
In addition to this, planning applications for new builds on brownfield sites will be automatically approved in order to combat the need for new affordable housing across the UK. Local authorities who fail to meet targeted eight-week planning approval guidelines will be subject to heavier fines, and the Government will have further powers to intervene when local planning agency resources are insufficient.
It is important to mention at this point, that as a result of these recent changes, there are two additional regulations you must adhere too.
Single storey extensions must not cover more than 50% of current garden space (including the front garden if there is one).
If you are planning a single storey extension with dimensions between four and eight meters (detached) or three and six meters (all other houses) you are required to go through the Neighbourhood Consultation Scheme.
What does this mean for current homeowners?
Put simply, there has never been a better time to consider an extension. With relaxed laws, it’s now possible to begin on a project without having to rely on the approval of local councillors. It’s estimated that by 2020 there will have been 200,000 permitted developments, which means good news for homeowners and the UK property market in general.