Extending Your Home Without Planning Permission

Published: 25th June 2012
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Whenever anyone plans a home extension, the infamously complex planning permission system can be a potential minefield. As planning permission laws vary from county to county, and seemingly from surveyor to surveyor, it can be tricky to know whether what you’re doing falls within the set guidelines for your area.

However, there are a number of home improvements that can increase the value of your home that can be done without planning permission. Obviously, rules are different for listed buildings, but for most homes it can be a relatively simple process. Remember, even if you think your extension falls within permitted development rights, always check with the local planning office before undertaking work. Also, if you make any changes to your home that require no planning permission, you still need to seek building regulations approval.

Here are few ways to add value to your home – and the best part is that they're generally planning-permission free.

Ground Floor Extensions
Contrary to popular opinion, ground floor extensions can actually be built without planning permission. As long as they are no larger than anywhere between 50m3 and 70m3 (depending on local rules), no taller than 4m and not within 2m of a property's boundary, they require no planning permission.

However, they do need to be within the permitted development area of a home's original boundaries, which requires any previous extensions to be taken into account.
Unfortunately, planning permission is needed for extensions to apartments and maisonettes, extending a property nearer to the road, or for any type of kitchen area.

If space is limited, an ideal way of opening a property out is with a side return. This can open up the existing space and create a room filled with natural light. Side returns are also often a lot cheaper than alternative extensions making them ideal if you are on a budget.

Conservatory and Garden Rooms
Again, conservatories are actually allowed to be built without planning permission, under very similar rules that apply to a ground floor extension. When planning a conservatory, the key is to think how it will increase the current space, and what the purpose of the created space will be.

The better thought out the extension is, the more likely it is to add value to your home. For example, creating a conservatory or garden room designed as a dining room or living area off a kitchen will definitely increase the value of your home.

Open Plan Living
The current craze for open-plan living has grown in popularity in recent years. Removing a partition wall can be a relatively simple task that can have a big effect. As long as you don’t remove load-bearing walls without seeking prior advice, there will be no real issues.

However, many homeowners choose to extend to create one larger room rather than a separate extension closed off to the rest of the house with doors. Most commonly, homeowners with kitchens at the rear of the property choose to build an extension to create one open plan kitchen lounge area, bringing together a space that the entire family can enjoy.

One key point to bear in mind with the above is that these types of extensions can often require planning permission due to their size.

Open plan areas are also great for drawing in extra light, which can create the illusion of extra space and generally make the house more appealing to buyers. And if you have a beautiful outside space or garden, providing a direct view onto an outside area is a great way to take advantage of your home’s greatest asset. Patio doors are amongst the best ways to create a great view, or better still a folding/stacking door can create a seamless boundary between the house and garden.

The cheapest and most popular patio doors are the commonplace uPVC kind, but recently these have gone very much out of fashion. Wooden windows and doors are far more attractive - any extra initial expenditure on this more expensive option will be offset by the attractiveness and added value to your home, not to mention that timber doors are actually far more energy efficient than their uPVC counterparts.

Many home improvements/extensions do not need planning permission so if you are looking to extend your home with minimum hassle, simply make sure your plans are designed specifically to avoid needing regulatory approval.

Article submitted by Jonathan Hey, Managing Director of Westbury Garden Rooms. Westbury Garden Rooms has over 20 years experience in building bespoke garden rooms and is a top 3 UK leading designer/manufacturer of bespoke orangeries and garden rooms.

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