Ask the Expert: Emma Crowley from Bruce Lance

Making alterations and improvements to a property can seem an attractive proposition to homeowners and potential purchasers alike but, if you don’t follow the correct procedures, they may lose their shine when you come to sell the property. Emma Crowley (above left) from Bruce Lance in Poole explains how to go about it.

Planning an extension or any other type of home improvement is an exciting business but, before you get too far down the line, it is essential to check out the regulations relevant to the work you are planning. Failure to adhere to these may cause significant delay and expense when you come to sell the property.

Guidance on whether planning consent is necessary can be found on the Planning Portal of your Local Authority. If you are still unsure about whether consent is required for the particular works you are planning, you should contact your Local Authority direct for clarification. Permitted development rights have extended the scope of alterations that can be made to a property without obtaining planning consent, but these rights have been removed in certain areas by Local Authorities, so you do need to check. It will also be helpful to a future sale if you save any communications you receive from the Local Authority and store them with your property deeds.

Building regulations are equally important, regulating a property’s standard of construction. You may well find that a proposed alteration is exempt from planning permission but does require building regulation approval. Again, this can be checked with your Local Authority.

If you proceed with alterations without obtaining the necessary planning and building regulation approvals, you are likely to run into problems when you come to sell your property. Following these procedures may mean that it takes you longer to build your extension but it will save you time, money and unnecessary stress when you wish to sell.

If you have not obtained the appropriate permissions, a future buyer will need to consider whether there are any structural issues with the alterations and also whether the council could use enforcement action against them in respect of the work that has been carried out. Retrospective consents and approvals can be applied for but this is often a time-consuming business that could put an agreed sale at risk of falling through.

Depending on the nature and age of the unauthorised alterations, an indemnity policy may be the best solution. A solicitor is the best person to talk to about this. If you have carried out works to your property without following the correct procedures, or are thinking of purchasing a property that does not have the necessary consents, then please contact myself or Sarah at Bruce Lance solicitors and we will be happy to advise.

Emma Crowley is a residential conveyancing executive at Bruce Lance in Poole. You can contact her on 01202 679379 or at

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