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I have a basement garden flat. It was originally a one bedroom but a previous owner built a single story flat roof rear extension. It was sold to me as a ‘one bedroom with garden room’, but in practice, previous owners and myself have used it as a second bedroom.

 

My question is, why can’t it be sold as a two bedroom and what might be needed to allow me to?

 

I have architectural plans for the extension dated February 1985 which have a planning approval stamp. It’s not very well insulated and I doubt it would meet current building regs without additional work but in practice, it’s a perfectly usable bedroom. It’s heated and has large double glazed windows.

 

My understanding is that if an extension was built pre-November 1985, then building regs approval wasn’t required. So in theory my extension should be grandfathered in and be a legal bedroom?

 

The property is share of freehold. When it was sold to me, I know that the seller had initially tried to list it as a two bedroom but the other freeholders insisted that it be listed as a one bedroom instead. Is this simply a matter of me needing to convince my fellow freeholders that I should be allowed to define the property as a two bedroom rather than a matter for building control?

 

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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As I recall habitable rooms, like Bedrooms, must meet building regulations but other rooms, such as store rooms and possibly some "garden rooms" don't necessarily have to meet building regulations.

 

Edit: That would be the building regs at time of construction.

 

Edited by Temp

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17 minutes ago, Temp said:

Edit: That would be the building regs at time of construction.

 

I'm wondering whether that would also be building regs at time of change of use, but whether there is grandfathering rights is the real question.

Edited by AliMcLeod

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32 minutes ago, AliMcLeod said:

 

I'm wondering whether that would also be building regs at time of change of use, but whether there is grandfathering rights is the real question.

 

Is there such thing as a 'change of use' for a room? The property has been a self-contained residential flat from prior to the extension to present.

 

So if there were no building regs required at the time it was built and it was used as a bedroom from the outset, then there is no issue with it continuing to be used and listed as a bedroom?

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I have never dealt with a share of freehold property.  What leverage do the other freeholders have to oblige this to be advertised as 1 bedroom in sales particulars?

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This issue frequently comes up when people convert lofts without getting Building control approval. It's normal for estate agents to refuse to list it as a bedroom.

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We bought a bungalow in 1998 that had a large bedroom in the loft, including a dormer window to the rear.  It was clearly a real bodge job, but it was also clear that it had been used as a child's bedroom, from the wall paper, posters of ponies etc, that was up there.  It was accessed via a loft ladder that dropped into the hall below, blocking the front door of the house when it was down, believe it or not.

 

The estate agent had listed it as an non-habitable room, and we asked questions of the vendor as to when the room had been converted and whether or not it had been notified to building control.  It turned out that the room had been built without either planning consent or building control approval and had indeed been used as a bedroom, shared by the vendor's two daughters.  They'd used this death trap of a room (there was no easy way to escape in the event of fire) for over 20 years.  Heating up there was by electric fires, and the walls were just hardboard, with zero insulation anywhere.

 

When we sold the house the purchaser was an architect, who wanted to take the roof off and convert the house to two storeys, so the unlawful state of the loft conversion didn't bother him, which was lucky.

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I can see no reason why you cannot advertise it as two bed. Building regs sign offs (or non sign offs) for extensions/loft conversions built before 1985 are common. The worst that could happen is that you will have to take out an indemnity policy (couple of hundred quid at most) upon sale.

 

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7 hours ago, timn1423 said:

My question is, why can’t it be sold as a two bedroom and what might be needed to allow me to?

 

One tell take for whether it is intended to be part of the main house is whether there is an external door or door frame is to external standards between the existing and the garden room. My "sun lounge" (which is actually a modified conservatory) deliberately has that done so that I can wave away enforcement should they ever turn up.

 

It means that the superior insulation there did not count to the EPC, but there are always swings and roundabouts.

 

If no building regs were required does that mean you can get a Lawful Development Certificate without a need to meet any standards? An LDC might scare the critics off and convince the EA. And there is nothing stopping you upgrading the insulation - not expensive or difficult.

 

Is the EA who sold it to you x years ago still around? They may remember even if it was years ago.

 

I also do not understand what this has to do with the other freeholders.

 

Ferdinand

 

 

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3 hours ago, Temp said:

https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200130/common_projects/9/change_of_use/3

 

"The building regulations may apply to certain changes of use of an existing building even though you may think that the work involved in the project will not amount to 'building work'."

 

 

 

 

But isn't that change of use of the property as a whole? I can't find any mention on the planning website of applications to change the use of a room.

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This is not change of use. Change of use is from one class to another eg shop to flat or single dwelling house to flats or barn to house to name a few. You appear to have planning anyway, The query relates to building regs, they do not grant a change of use anyway, they oversee building (in theory). Advertise it as 2 bed. You are using it as such, why do you think there is always a rider/disclaimer on Estate Agents particulars? They do not constitute a legal document. If you check on your local council website planning website you will be able to see the planning application. As it has planning that will come up as ok in any search. If you do not draw attention to the building regs aspect I doubt anyone will ever query it.

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But isn't that change of use of the property

 as a whole? I can't find any mention on the planning website of applications to change the use of a room.

 

Quite possibly, it was all I could find as well.

 

As i understand it you are meant to be in compliance with Building Regs at all times, not just when you are being inspected by the BCO during/following construction work. Just as your car must have legal tyres all the time not just for the MOT test! (Although unlike a car, changes to the building regs are rarely if ever retrospective).

 

When the room was "converted" to a habitable room a breach may have occured (for example because there wasn't enough insulation). From that point the BCO had 12 months to issue a section 36 notice requiring you to carry out work to make it comply. After that the BCO could go to court and get an injunction requiring you to carry out the work but in practice the high cost of this precludes them doing so except in cases where a building is obviously very dangerous. A more likely possibility is that a new owner might want to build a new extension or some other work needing approval and the BCO might spot the non-compliance and insist on additional work being done before he signs off the new work.

 

If you advertise it as a two bed and the sellers solicitor discovers the non-compliance they have a duty to the buyer to point out the risk that the BCO might take enforcement action and the costs this might incur. They might not care, they might want you to take out an insurance policy, or at worse they may expect you to reduce the price to reflect it's value as a one bedroom house with garden room. Either way they can argue you priced it as a two bed house with no risks and there is a risk so the price no longer reflects it's true value.

 

If you advertise it as a one bedroom with garden room there is no building regs issue so no scope to argue it's price doesn't reflect it's true value. I guess it's up to you which way you go.

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On 03/06/2019 at 19:46, Temp said:

 

 

 

Quite possibly, it was all I could find as well.

 

As i understand it you are meant to be in compliance with Building Regs at all times, not just when you are being inspected by the BCO during/following construction work. Just as your car must have legal tyres all the time not just for the MOT test! (Although unlike a car, changes to the building regs are rarely if ever retrospective).

 

When the room was "converted" to a habitable room a breach may have occured (for example because there wasn't enough insulation). From that point the BCO had 12 months to issue a section 36 notice requiring you to carry out work to make it comply. After that the BCO could go to court and get an injunction requiring you to carry out the work but in practice the high cost of this precludes them doing so except in cases where a building is obviously very dangerous. A more likely possibility is that a new owner might want to build a new extension or some other work needing approval and the BCO might spot the non-compliance and insist on additional work being done before he signs off the new work.

 

If you advertise it as a two bed and the sellers solicitor discovers the non-compliance they have a duty to the buyer to point out the risk that the BCO might take enforcement action and the costs this might incur. They might not care, they might want you to take out an insurance policy, or at worse they may expect you to reduce the price to reflect it's value as a one bedroom house with garden room. Either way they can argue you priced it as a two bed house with no risks and there is a risk so the price no longer reflects it's true value.

 

If you advertise it as a one bedroom with garden room there is no building regs issue so no scope to argue it's price doesn't reflect it's true value. I guess it's up to you which way you go.

 

Thanks for your thoughts. What I'm not sure about is whether the permission granted would have allowed for the room to be a bedroom from the outset or not, in which case, there would have been no 'conversion'. I guess the ideal is to be compliant with regs at all times, but as I understand it, there is no enforcement on historic work based on newer regs? If the planning was indeed sufficient for a bedroom and regs weren't relevant at the time, then I guess I'm all good?

 

I've recently got hold of the planning decision and created a new topic specifically about that. If you have any further thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

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