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Can You Sell a House Without Building Regulations?

Property Saviour » Problematic Properties » Condition » Can You Sell a House Without Building Regulations?

If you want to put a property up for sale without the necessary building regulations, it won’t be easy.  Your builder probably told you you don’t need building regulations as you are extending under permitted development.  However, this isn’t true.

There are two main reasons why a house won’t have the necessary certifications:

  1. The first is when homeowners do not get official approval for changes they are making, such as converting an area of the house or installing solar panels.  Though these may seem like small alterations, they still need to abide by the building regulations. Sellers forget to apply for the right certifications.
  2. The second instance is when the current owner did not originally own the property. If alterations were made before you bought the property and the relevant certifications were not obtained, it is down to you to find a solution.

It is always best to adhere to building regulations. Failure to do so can delay your sale indefinitely and decrease the value of the property if you must sell it.

To obtain a building regulations certificate, your property must be inspected before, during and after work.

Table of Contents

What are the Building Regulations?

The Building Regulations 2010 set the current legislative requirements and building standards. They are arranged into 15 parts: 

  1. Interpretation and general;
  2. Materials and workmanship;
  3. Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture;
  4. Structure;
  5. Fire safety;
  6. Conservation of fuel and power;
  7. Resistance to the passage of sound;
  8. Stairs, ramps, guarding and protection from impact;
  9. Solid waste in buildings;
  10. Ventilation;
  11. Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems;
  12. Drainage;
  13. Sanitary appliances;
  14. Unvented hot water storage systems and reducing the risk of scalding;
  15. Access to and the use of buildings;
  16. and V-Glazing.

When is a building regulations certificate issued?

After completing any structural work homeowners should obtain a completion certificate from the Building Control Department of their local council.

This certificate confirms that the work has been done to the required standard. To obtain the certificate, homeowners must notify the relevant inspector before starting the work.

The inspector will then inspect the work at the beginning and during the project. It’s important to note that building regulation requirements can change over time.

For works done many years ago, such as 20 years ago, it’s common to find that completion certificates were not issued at that time. Before 2013, local authorities were not required to issue completion certificates in all cases.

What happens if you don't have building regulations certificate?

Your local council will have a Building Control department, where you’ll find Building Control officers, also known as building inspectors.  They will ensure that all buildings are designed and built in compliance with Building Regulations.

If your home doesn’t have a building regulations certificate, then you will have to apply for a retrospective building regulation certificate.  This will require you or your builder to:

  • Expose walls/ceilings to show what building materials have been used;
  • If the materials used aren’t compliant, then carry out remedial works to make it compliant with building regs.
  • Once remedial works have taken place, it will be re-inspected before it can be finished, and then a building regulations certificate will be issued.

If you are in the middle of selling a home, you will need to spend a substantial amount of money to make your home compliant, resulting in losing your buyer.

However, if you need to sell quickly, we’ll buy your home for cash.

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Can You Sell A House Without Building Regulations
If your home doesn't have a building regulations certificate, then you will have to apply for a retrospective building regulation certificate. 

Can i get a copy of building regulations certificate?

If you’ve done work without getting building regulation permission, you can still apply for a Regularisation Certificate. This lets a building inspector assess work that was done and completed without submitting plans or giving notice of the work.

It can be difficult to make an application for a Regularisation Certificate if you haven’t followed the correct process. But doing so can provide a way to address work that has been completed. Once you’ve submitted your application, the Local Authority will assess the work you’ve done. They’ll decide if it meets the necessary regulations.

Do I need a regularisation certificate?

Selling a property without planning permission or building control sign-off may prevent you from completing the purchase unless you obtain a letter of regularisation or indemnity insurance.

Is my builder responsible for building regulations?

No. You as the owner are responsible for any building works.

What happens if I don’t comply with building regulation requirements?

When it comes to going without building regulation approvals, this issue is not unheard of. However, the consequences of this action can be unpleasant. In essence, there are three possible outcomes:

Enforcement action

If authorities are made aware of the lack of certification, they could take enforcement action against you, even if the previous owner made the alterations. This may result in fines or even court proceedings if the building regulations are not met.

Extra expenses

If the alterations fail the building standards, you will have to redo them to meet the regulations. This will require additional costs, which will reduce your profit and decrease the value of your property.

Selling the property becomes almost impossible

It is already difficult to sell a property that has been devalued. What is worse is that, in some cases, you might not even be able to sell it.

If the structural works do not comply with the building regulations, buyers may not be able to get a mortgage for the property as they need to ensure that the building and any changes made to it meet the standards.

Lack of building regulations
This was a new build property that had building regulations. You can see rising damp! You can't sue your council if they were negligent.

How do I solve this problem?

Here are two possible solutions to your problem:

Retrospective Building Control Approval

This is a valid way out. You can get building control approval for works that have already been done. This process is called ‘regularisation’, where a building control surveyor inspects your property to assess whether it is in line with the regulations and standards.

This process may be complicated and time-consuming, but it is your best bet for getting out of this situation. 

If your property passes the standards, you will receive a regularisation certificate. However, keep in mind that private inspectors are not allowed to do this assessment, so you would have to get in contact with the Local Council to get a regularisation certificate.

Additionally, you may be charged with higher fees than usual for a regular building control approval, as this policy encourages homeowners to get approval in time.

Indemnity Insurance

This is a more common method that is perceived to be easier and cheaper. As it is a legal procedure, you may need to consult with Property Lawyers to understand the risks and benefits of this option.

Indemnity insurance offers protection to both the buyer and lender in cases where there is a defect in the title that cannot be resolved. It is different from regular insurance policies as it is only paid once.

In the case of building control approvals, indemnity insurance protects you from any enforcement action taken by the authorities. However, it only covers the selling cost of the property. For example, if the property sells for £500,000, you can get an insurance policy of £175.

Is my builder responsible for building regulations
You souldn't be able to see daylight under your guttering. Notice the gap between roofing and guttering!

Can you buy Indemnity Insurance if you lack building regulations?

Indemnity insurance is a quick way to sell a house without having to go through building regulations approval.

However, there are a few things to consider before making this decision. It is essential not to notify the local council, as this may prevent you from getting the insurance policy.  However, if local authority searches have identified a lack of building regulations, then it is too late.  You can’t blame the builder.

The policy does not cover the costs of remedying any substandard works that have been done to the house (such as building alterations that didn’t meet regulatory standards).  This policy only kicks in if the council issues you with an enforcement notice.

Your solicitor will be able to advise you on how to proceed.

How to sell your home without the necessary building regulations

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