What to do when buying a home extended or modified without planning permission?

Sep 06, 2021

Planning Permission

Properties on the market that have been modified without planning permission can create serious headaches for buyers. Here's why:

  • Lenders may not allow you to draw down on your mortgage with an unauthorised modification as they fear it will incur costs that impact your repayment capacity.
  • If planning was not sought beforehand it's possible that the work is not up to standard and could be costly to maintain.
  • If you would like to apply for planning permission in the future the local planning authority is unlikely to approve your request until previous changes are authorised.
  • Reselling your home down the line will be more difficult with wary buyers.

It's not only extensions that require planning permission, changes such as widening a driveway or replacing windows on a protected structure also require approval from the local authority. It's important to work with your surveyor and solicitor to understand if there are unauthorised changes to your potential home.

Retention Planning Permission

It is strongly recommended that you push the seller to request permission from the local planning authority to retain any modifications that do not have planning permission. This can be an expensive process as not only are there fees associated with the application, but they will also likely need to hire an architect to assert that the work is compliant with building regulations. Even if retention permission is granted it may come on the condition that further work is carried out.

If the seller is unwilling to go through this process it's often best to pull out of the sale. If the seller puts the property on the market again they will be setting their timeline back and risk the sale falling through when the next buyer discovers the issue.

What About the "7 Year Rule"?

Under Irish law if a modification has been in place for seven years or more then the local authority cannot ask for the change to be undone or an extension to be demolished. However, this does not mean that the work is now authorised and you will still need to apply for retention permission.

Other than planning permission concerns, there is a lot more to keep on top of when buying a home. If you're thinking of buying a property the Lively app will guide you through the process each step of the way to make sure you're on top of everything.

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