December 23, 2016

8 home improvements you can make without planning permission

If you wish to enhance or add value to your home, you may be worried about needing to obtain planning permission to make the home improvements you want. The good news is that under Permitted Development Rights, there are many things you can do in your home that don’t require the red tape and bureaucracy often associated with getting planning permission.

Permitted Development Rights generally apply to residential properties but not to Listed Buildings or property in Conservation Areas, AONBs or National Parks, where stricter planning rules will apply. If you live in a flat or maisonette, planning permission will still be required for exterior alterations (e.g. windows, doors) although interior refurbishments may fall within permitted development.

8 home improvements
In case of any queries or if you’re not sure where you stand, your local council planning department should be your first port of call. Much valuable information is also available from For specific advice regarding you particular property, you should consult a reputable building surveyor.

Here are 8 of the most popular property alterations that you can carry out without planning permission.
1.      Internal remodelling
If you’re looking to refurbish the interior of your home, there’s not much you cannot do. As long as any work done inside your house doesn’t extend the area, or footprint, of your home, you can remodel as you see fit.

Fancy installing an en-suite shower room to the master bedroom? Changing the room layout by moving a wall or door? Whether you wish to convert your old dingy kitchen to a spacious kitchen/diner, create open plan areas for a more contemporary living vibe, or add a downstairs WC under the stairs (plumbing permitting), planning permission is not required.

The same goes for attached or integral buildings that are currently not part of the main house. If you have an integral garage and wish to convert it to a home office – no problem.

The only caveat is that you need to follow Building Regulations for electrical and structural alterations, so make sure you consult a professional to deal with these issues first.
2.      Doors and windows
Unless your property is listed or in a Conservation Area, no planning permission is necessary to move, replace or add new windows, including double glazed windows. Building Regulations will need to be followed for new or bigger doors or windows.

That said, upper floor windows on side elevations must be fitted with obscure glass and there are restrictions on the type of opener you can install. As for bay windows – they count as extensions and therefore do not fall within permitted development rights.

3.      Loft conversions
Loft conversions are a great way to increase the living space in your house as a cost-effective alternative to moving. Done well, they can also enhance the value of your property. If you’ve been wanting to add a guest suite or more space for a growing teenager, loft conversions are the perfect solution.

Under Permitted Development, you’re allowed to construct dormer windows to give you extra headroom within the converted loft, as long as the dormers aren’t higher than the highest part of the roof or extends beyond the roof plane.
4.      Basements
If you can’t go up, perhaps you can dig down? Perfect for a home gym or cinema, indoor pool or spa room, or even an extra bedroom, basement conversions fall within permitted development rights and don’t require planning permission unless extra engineering works are required.
5.      Porches
Normally, any extensions to the front of a house require planning permission, however you are able build a porch without. The only proviso is size: it can’t be more than 3 metres high, be within 2 metres of a road and cannot exceed a total of 3 square metres in size.
6.      Extensions
Both single storey extensions (including conservatories) and two storey extensions can be built without the need to apply for planning permissions. However, various caveats and restrictions exist with regard to the dimensions/size, location and materials used, as well as the glazing options permissible for any new windows.
It should be noted that the rules are not straightforward and you are advised to take professional advice from a respectable building surveyor before you commit to any building project.
7.      Solar panels
As long as your solar panels don’t extend beyond 200 mm of the wall or roof and no part of the solar panel is higher than the highest part of your roof, no permission is need. Freestanding panels can also be installed without permission, though their size and proximity to the boundary may be limited
8.      Summerhouses and sheds
If you want to build a summer house or a shed in your garden you can do this without permission, but some general rules apply:
       The building has to be less than 50% of the size of your total garden area
       The structure must be single storey and cannot be higher than 2.5 metres
       It cannot be used as any form of residence – storage, a gym, an office, a garden workshop etc are all fine.