As I walk the path of buying and selling buildings with my clients the issue of Building Regulations arises regularly.
Building Control’s approval will usually be required if you wish to:
If works are carried out in breach of building regulations, one or more of the following may happen:
If approval was not obtained it may be that the works were carried out in breach of the building regulations. This could mean that the building is dangerous and/or it could have a significant impact on value or future saleability.
Further, there is the risk of Building Control taking enforcement action if the breach is within the timescales outlined; it is also worth remembering that technically there is no time limit on Building Control applying for an injunction.
The upshot of this is that buyers’ solicitors cannot simply disregard historic non-compliance with building regulations, no matter how many years have passed since the works were undertaken. It is good practice for a buyer to check that all works carried out to a building were in accordance with building regulations. A buyer of a property where works were carried out without approval may require the seller to:
If a seller is not able to provide evidence of approval, he or she may apply for a “regularisation certificate“.
The works will be assessed against the standards subsisting at the time the works were carried out, not at the time of the inspection. The local authority will charge a fee for carrying out the inspection and may require plans of the works and for the property owner to open up parts of the property if the works have been covered up.
If these works had been carried out satisfactorily, then a regularisation certificate will be issued; if not, the local authority will specify the works which need to be carried out. However, it should be borne in mind that a regularisation certificate is not conclusive evidence that the requirements of the building regulations have been complied with. Compliance at the time the works were carried out is always preferable.
It may be possible to obtain indemnity insurance to protect against the risk of enforcement where works were carried out without approval. However, such a policy is not a substitute for getting approval and an application for a regularisation certificate may invalidate the policy by alerting the local authority to the potential breach.
It is important therefore for building regulations compliance to be thought about when preparing to market a property. If works have been carried out a prudent solicitor will want to see evidence of compliance. Failure to have this to hand is likely to result in delays.