Selling your house – speeding up the process
Once you have found a buyer for your home, you will no doubt hope that the sale goes through quickly. Delays are often attributed to the legal process, and yet nowadays (with electronic conveyancing and email) solicitors can move the conveyancing process itself along quite quickly. Ironically, many delays are attributable to the property itself – or more accurately, work that has been carried out to the property where the necessary paperwork is not available.
A man’s house may be his castle, but it is a castle now hedged by numerous rules (known as the “Building Regulations”). The Regulations apply even where planning permission may not be required, and can control even minor work e.g. installation of a gas fire, replacement front door or even your nice new garden decking.
It is important therefore, when you decide to sell your home, that you make a list of all the work that has been carried out over the years, and compare it with the list below. If any work appears on this list, then you should look out the relevant certificates that cover the work. For major building work, this will almost certainly have been referred to the local authority for prior approval, and for which the Local Authority will issue a Permit for the work to be done and, on completion of the work, a Completion Certificate to confirm the work has been carried out properly.
For more minor work that has been carried out by a qualified contractor, the necessary certificates will probably have been issued by the relevant governing body, (such as Gas Safe or Fensa).
If you do not have these certificates, then you should make enquiry of the contractor who carried out the work (to make sure that the required paperwork was put in place after the work was completed) and, if necessary, obtain duplicate certificates.
The usual culprits for absent certificates are (in no particular order!)
Windows – all new windows and glazed doors fitted after 1st April 2002 require either building regulations approval or FENSA certificate – even if replacing like for like.
Gas boilers and fires fitted after 1st January 2005 require a building regulations certificate or (more usually) a Corgi/Gas Safe certificate.
Almost all but very minor electrical installations or alteration to electrical wiring requires a certificate by a qualified NICEIC electrician.
Cavity Wall insulation also requires approval – note: The Guarantee certificate issued by CIGA is not a compliance certificate for Building Regulations purposes.
Loft Conversions (and which may also require planning permission in certain cases)
Integral garage conversions into living accommodation require building regulations approval. Conversion of a detached garage may also require planning consent.
Conservatories are usually exempt from Building Regulations provided that they do not exceed a certain size and meet other criteria. Go online and check that your conservatory does indeed meet this criteria.
Decking must comply to certain criteria also (e.g. as to permeability and height off the ground)
Significant changes to the water supply may need to comply with applicable regulations, as also maybe the installation or re-location of a bathroom. (For example, a bathroom should not be accessed directly from a kitchen, for reasons that are hopefully obvious)
Any internal alteration of a structural part of the property (e.g. removal of a load-bearing wall or forming a new opening)
An extension will require building regulations approval and possibly may also need planning permission
A new porch may need planning and building regulations approval, especially if fitted to the front of the property.
Leasehold flats hold further possible sources of delay a-plenty, and these will be dealt with in a future posting. Properties in Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings also have their own special requirements that can be a further cause of delays if the relevant paperwork cannot be produced.
There are still quite a few areas of work that you can carry out to your property which is not (yet) covered by the Regulations – for example, fitting a cat-flap or erecting a fence – provided that it is not more than two metres in height (the fence that is, not the cat-flap!). If you are unsure as to whether you should have certificates to cover any work that may have been carried out to your property, and you are intending to use our services to act on your sale, then we shall be more than pleased to discuss these matters with you once you have decided to put your property on the market, so that (where possible) any outstanding certificates or other required paperwork can be obtained in advance of successfully finding a buyer.