Retrospective planning on loft conversion

A friend bought a house a few years ago which came with a loft conversion which was apparently done in the early 1970's without planning permission. It was advertised as a two bedroom property with storage space in the loft when she bought the house. I'm assuming this was how they got around the building regulations. In the meantime she has put in fitted wardrobes and completely refurbished the loft room.
She now wishes to sell the property and has put it on the market as a three bedroom house. A buyer appeared very quickly and has had a survey done. The surveyor raised the question of the loft extension - did it have planning permission and building regs approval?
My friend asked the local council if planning permission was ever applied for and the answer was no. She then asked what she could do to legalise the extension. The council advised her that, as the extension was done before 1985, building regulations would not apply. However, she was told she would have to fill out a form to establish if planning permission was required for the extension - which was built 40 years ago! One of the questions on this form is - does the extension exceed 40 cubic metres or 50 cubic metres? According to my measurements, the room is only 26 cubic metres. I'm not sure if this measurement has any major significance or not. Also, there is a fixed staircase built from the first to the second floor, where the bedroom is located. In any event, this extension has lasted for 40 + years with no apparent problems.
Assuming that the council decides that planning permission is/was required, what are the next steps in this procedure and what are the likely outcomes?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Wesley wrote:

IANAL but it would be almost certainly legit after all that time... I *think* PP (or lack of) times out after either 7 or 12 years, can't remember which.
--
Tim Watts

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 01/08/2011 22:08, Tim Watts wrote:

Less than that... enforcement action must be taken within 4 years IIRC.
--
Cheers,

John.

/=================================================================\
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 02/08/2011 01:02, John Rumm wrote:

Never quite understood that (whatever the lead time is - it does vary according to stuff like whether there's been 'material change of use' etc...
... I mean, suppose someone does a totally awful, completely unsafe loft conversion, under the radar - is the fact that it manages to stay standing and that somehow the roof hasn't actually collapsed 4 years later enough to mean that Building Control can't touch it?
David
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Lobster wrote:

I think so, yes.
BUT there are other avenues: Elfin Safety may declare buildings 'uninhabitable' and insurance may be refused.
There was some case where an old boy had lived in a cottage without mains water or drainage, and eventually the farmer dammed his stream..he wanted the council to run a pipe to upstream of the dam,. but they declared the whole property uninhabitable instead.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Wrong.
You (and many other people) are confusing Planning Permission (which can be obtained retrospectively) and Building Control. Which can't. This dodgy loft conversion may be fine for planning, but the BCO may still want it taken down because it cannot be inspected.
--
Today is Setting Orange, the 69th day of Confusion in the YOLD 3177
Sing, for song drives away the wolves.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 03/08/2011 11:16, Huge wrote:

But would have no power to insist on it (save cases of outright danger as covered in Hugo's post)
--
Cheers,

John.

/=================================================================\
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Hmmm. Interesting, thank you. I thought they did have such powers. Lesson learned; consult a professional.
--
Today is Sweetmorn, the 70th day of Confusion in the YOLD 3177
Sing, for song drives away the wolves.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 02/08/2011 08:04, Lobster wrote:

Building control and planning are different things. The enforcement window for building regs violations are even shorter than for PP generally - usually no more than 2 years IIRC. There may be an exception for where there is a public risk from the low quality of work. Perhaps Hugo could clarify?
PP timing starts from when the work becomes "visible" - hence people who build houses in barns etc and then take the barn down a few years later can still get caught, since the clock will run from the uncovering.
--
Cheers,

John.

/=================================================================\
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
[Default] On Tue, 02 Aug 2011 08:04:11 +0100, a certain chimpanzee,
and wrote:

There are other measures that can be taken that have no time limit regarding dangerous buildings.
Firstly if the danger is imminent, then immediate action can be taken to prevent a danger to people in and around the building. This can be as simple as moving everyone out and fencing off the site.
If it's in such a condition as to be dangerous but doesn't warrant emergency action, then the Council can apply to a Magistrate to order the owner to either make the building safe or pull it down. Again, fencing off the building could be said to remove the danger.
The Housing department have improvement powers if the property is rented.
--
Hugo Nebula
"If no-one on the internet wants a piece of this,
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hugo Nebula wrote:

That sounds about right...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

She needs to make an application for a certificate of lawful development. Assuming she can prove the work was done when you say then it should be largely a formality albeit with a lot of paperwork and an application fee to pay. If she talks to the local planners they will give her the forms and tell her what needs to be done. She will almost certainly have to make a statutory declaration that is a statement sworn under oath that the facts are accurate. Nothing too difficult but it is time consuming and costs money.
Peter Crosland
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks for the replies.
So, a Certificate of Lawful Development will legitimise the extension but will this be enough to satisfy a mortgage lender?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Wesley wrote:

Wesley,
Also, if the the extension "does the extension exceed 40 cubic metres or 50 cubic metres" then it may well be DEEMED TO SATISFY under the building regs/planning procedures - meaning that it will not need approval under those procedures - and given the fact that you say that the "the room is only 26 cubic metres", then that falls well within the Deemed to Satisfy rules.
As it's many years since I delved into the intricacies of the Building Regs etc [IIRC the copy I have is the 1966 version], I would advise that you have a quiet chat with your local planning/buildin reg departments as it may prove quite fruitful and less expensive than you thought.
Cash
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Cash wrote:

+1.
Be absolutely frank. They cant handle it. Understand what they tell you and do whatever is needed.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 01/08/2011 21:14, Wesley wrote:

This does not seem to be something to get worried about. Chances are they could simply answer the purchaser's solicitor's questions with the unadulterated truth, and you may well find that the new buyer will be happy to accept things as they are (after all, the current owner did).
There may be a formal method of regularising the work, but its likely to be nothing more than a form filling exercise (and a paying the council some money exercise! (couple of hundred at a guess))
--
Cheers,

John.

/=================================================================\
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I agree. It largely depends on how picky the buyer's solicitor is. He will advise his client of the need for a COL to cover his liability. The buyer will need to consider what might happen if and when he comes sell the property when the same question will be asked again.
Peter Crosland
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hold on, is it a loft _conversion_ or a loft _extension_? You start by calling it one thing, and then calling it another.
Any buyer would be throwing their money away if they don't get a structural survey to assure their lender that the roof isn't going to fall flat.
JGH
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 02/08/2011 12:32, jgharston wrote:

Don't think I referred to it as either did I? Assuming the space is habitable - which is sounds like it is, then its a loft conversion - there is a change of use implied.

I think that may be a little over cautious given the amount of time that has passed since the work was completed. It has obviously survived a good few hurricanes and heavy snow falls in its time. Also the age would suggest that the original roof was probably made using traditional joinery rather than prefab trusses. So it would generally harder to compromise the whole structure quite as easily.
However the buyer may well use the non official nature of the conversion to claim a reduction in price and argue that in reality they ought not pay more than they would for the unconverted property with more accessible storage space. The state of the market at the time of sale will dictate how likely they are to get away with that!
--
Cheers,

John.

/=================================================================\
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
John Rumm wrote:

You didn't, the OP did:
> ...a house a few years ago which came with a loft conversion ... > The surveyor raised the question of the loft extension > She then asked what she could do to legalise the extension.
Sorry, GoogleGroups playing up, and Thunderbird Newsclient didn't quote as I expected it to. Currently can't see anything earlier than Saturday.
JGH
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.