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Converted loft without approvals

dan sch

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Hi folks, we're currently in the process of buying our second BTL and it's been highlighted by our solicitor that the converted loft (carpeted, plastered and with a roof window but no fixed staircase) does not have the necessary permissions (i.e. Building Control sign off).

It wasn't sold as habitable space but we're being advised to have the vendor (an absent executor) get a letter of comfort from the LA; to indemnify us against any future associated costs for remedial work; or to "take a view" (which, in the context is likely to be proceeding at our own risk, renegotiating the price or withdrawing entirely).

Anyone got any experience of this or able to offer some wisdom? It's a good house at a decent price, but not so great a deal that we'll proceed at any cost!

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11 hours ago, dan sch said:

It wasn't sold as habitable space

So my first question is why you would want to re-negotiate the price on something that you already knew was not being sold as habitable space?

The loft has been converted, into a plastered, carpeted and fenestrated loft, nothing more.

Take a view.


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We knew it wasn't habitable based on seeing it (no mention in the particulars) but the uncertainty is whether or not changes made were structurally safe and signed off by Building Control. We now know that they weren't (or, if they were, no record exists) so the non-habitable space now becomes a potential future liability if corrective action is required. 

My thinking is that even with indemnity insurance, there is potential disruption in future if, for whatever reason, we need to make good. 

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  • 1 month later...


There are many more questioned to ask you.

When do you think the work in the loft was done? Did the electrics get modified in this area? Is the loft heated? If so by radiators? 

Without answers to these and other questions being known I'd leave the deal alone and not even buy, unless for some reason this BTL is an incredibly low price and local to you.

Otherwise you are buying a can of someone else's worms they have already opened. Who knows what condition any of the roof timbers are in under the plasterboard, have some timbers been removed to make space? and are the electrics safe and been routed correctly, is the roof light installed correctly with installation cert? etc etc.

The house has been subject to DIY style modifications with no building regs approvals or notifications and then you intend to buy and rent it to someone to live in??

I'd rather you bought a house down the street which hasn't been messed with. From experience, if something has been bodged in a house, then it's very likely other things has had the same treatment elsewhere in the property.

Sorry, if its not what you want to read

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Conrad Paton

+44 7957 959851




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Building Control approval is relatively straightforward through regularisation in retrospective approval, costs marginally more and you may have to open-up/expose elements to enable inspection.  I'm fairly confidence in saying that it will be judged against the current standards, not those of when it was built.  Or, and I'm NOT advocating this, you could likely ignore it as there are very few powers of enforcement once you pass several time milestones (you still hold all the liabilities, and you will encounter the same problems when selling, so this is a short-sighted option).  

Its not however just Building Ctrl, Planning consent (inc. Conservation area consent if applicable) may be required particularly for the rooflight.  Timescales and powers to enforce Planning are much stronger and extend for many years.  

Advertised, viewed and offered known as non-habitable, I'm not sure what argument you have, and as vendor I'd personally give this little credence.  What would concern me as purchaser is why the staircase has not been built, and are the roof joist sufficient s floor joists.  People often misjudge the space required for a staircase and it would not surprise me if this was impossible to build in compliance with ADK/M (without more significant works), hence deferment and sale.  

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