Selling a house can be stressful at the best of times, not least due to the amount of paperwork involved. From proof of identity and property deeds, to energy performance certificates and property information forms, it may seem like the list is endless. For an extended property, it could be even longer.
If you’ve added an extension or made alterations to your property since you bought it, there are a few more documents that need your attention before you sell it…
Paperwork needed for extensions, garage or attic conversions
If you’ve added an extension to your property, or you’ve converted your garage or attic to give yourself more living space, you may need to provide your conveyancing solicitor with the following additional paperwork:
Building regulations certificate
The first thing that a prospective buyer will want to know, is that any building work was carried out to a required standard.
If you’ve undertaken any building work to your property, you will (or should!) have secured approval from your Local Authority as part of your Building Regulations. This certification will have confirmed that the building work was constructed to a required standard and is safe, with a satisfactory level of insulation
You will need to provide a copy of this certificate to your conveyancing solicitor as part of your paperwork.
Without having proof of your building regulations, you may find it increasingly difficult to sell your extended property.
If you are unsure if you have a copy of your completion certificate, you can get a copy from your Local Authority if they carried out the approval of the building work.
Alternatively, if the approval of the building work was carried out by an Approved Inspector, you should contact them directly for any copies of plans or final certificates instead.
Proof of planning permission
When planning any sort of building work, it’s always wise to check if you need planning permission before you start. There have been numerous high-profile cases where a council has refused permission and families have been forced to revert their property back to its original legal state at a huge cost.
Additionally, prospective buyers will need to feel confident that planning permission was granted because councils can serve enforcement notices against homeowners for breaches of the law, even if they were not the original homeowner who carried out the building work.
Some building work is pre-agreed as a ‘permitted development’ however. This usually applies when work is internal and doesn’t involve altering the structure of the building, such as a garage conversion.
However, if your building work did need planning permission, you will need to provide evidence that this was granted.
Do you have covenant consent?
Separate from planning permission, there may be a clause within your deeds, known as ‘covenant consent’, which may require you to have permission to alter your property from the original developer.
When a property is first built, the developer may have inserted a clause which prevents any additional building work as a way of allowing them to retain some control over what is built on the land.
In most instances, the developers will generally agree to your proposals if your requests are reasonable, however, there is a likelihood that they may charge a small fee.
If you’ve already undertaken the work and subsequently discovered that you have not obtained covenant consent, then you have two options:
1. Retrospectively contact the original developer and ask for their consent to agree to the alterations. You should expect to allow them to view your original plans and work specifications.
2. Purchase an indemnity insurance policy for your buyers which would protect them against any legal fees and/or loss of value to the property in the event that the original developer brought a claim against you for ‘breach of covenant’. However, it should be noted that if you have already spoken with the property developer then this option would not be available, as they would be aware that work had taken place.
“Covenant consent is a common problem as many people are simply unaware that they need to seek permission from the original builder.”
Before starting any building work, we always recommend checking your deeds. If there is a sentence which says that the owner should “not make any alteration or addition to the property without the prior written consent of the vendor” then you’ll need to contact the original developers.
An indemnity insurance policy can provide cover by protecting homeowners from the risk of any legal action from the Local Authority for a breach of planning regulations. Indemnity insurance policies usually last the lifespan of a property and will be automatically transferred to the subsequent homeowners.
There are many instances where it is advisable to purchase an indemnity policy, including to protect you in the event of a breach of covenant as mentioned above, but we always recommend taking legal advice from your conveyancing solicitor who will arrange the cover on your behalf.