Building Regulations Completion Certificate Sign-Offs : Why Important?
Exploring why obtaining a building regulations completion certificate for your alteration, extension or loft conversion etc. is important and the potential implications for not following procedure and obtaining a certificate when your property in the future.
I am buying a property which has an extension but it has not been signed off by Building Control, is this bad?
The short answer is yes potentially for the following reasons :
A lack of a Building Regulations Completion Certificate can potentially :
- Cause issues in a building insurance claims scenario such as fire claim or similar as a claim could be partially or totally repudiated due to a “non-complaint structures” clause in the policy wording.
- Cause future buyers to potentially reduce their purchase offer on the grounds of potential regularisation costs, i.e. on the grounds that they would have to spend money to obtain a regularisation completion certificate from building control in order for them to sell the property on in the future with a clean bill of building regulations health so to speak.
- The prudent approach when buying a property which it later transpires has non compliant structures or conversions is to factor in potential regularisation costs into your evaluation as to whether the price reflects the condition together with potential regularisation costs or not before completing on the sale.
- You should always discuss any lack of planning approvals or building regulations approvals with your solicitor prior to purchase in order to gain a better understanding of the likely risks moving forward with the property and other potential implications prior to purchase.
Can these issues be overcome in some way?
They can in theory be overcome to some extent by :
- The vendor taking out an indemnity insurance policy to the current owners benefit.
We are not solicitors or insurance brokers, however our understanding of the matter is that these policies effectively give the present owner somewhere to go for repudiated sums on a building insurance claim for any amounts repudiated by the normal buildings insurers due to non compliant structures policy.
- A building Regulations Regularisation Applicaiton with Local Authority Building Control Department.
This is a sort of retrospective approval procedure whereby the checking officer visits the property and writes out a list of works the officer deems necessarry in order to regularise the structure into a building regulations compliant state.
The officer would then inspect the remedial compliance works at various stages and if satisfied sign them off and once all remedial works are completed eventually issue a completion certificate for the structure deeming the structure as compliant with building regulations.
Is a regularisation application route easy in most cases?
This depends on the quality of the construction of teh extension or loft conversion and in a sense how far away it was from compliance.
It is not uncommon to have to almost start again with loft conversions if for example the joists used do not comply with TRADA span tables or if there are point loads not accounted for such that a structural engineer cannot prove adequacy by way of calculations.
Loft conversion regularisations can also involve taking down linings to increase insulation in order to meet U value requirements for walls, floors and ceilings.
Extension regularisations often involve digging trial holes to expose foundations for inspection and in some cases underpinning might be required by the officer for compliance depending upon the foundation depth , quality of concrete and its condition and subsoil conditions etc. found after exposing.
Similar improvements to ventilation, mechaninal extractors and U values, insulation etc. are often required for extension regularisation.
There is also a potential that the officer may require the extension / conversion to comply with current building regulations standards not just the standards applicable at the time of construction which can prove expensive in some cases.
The view taken in respect of regularisation is entirely the checking officers judgement call and opinions/approaches can vary from council to council, officer to officer in our experience.
Protocols when you discover a structure in non compliant or not signed off :
Just like if you have a minor car accident you are told never to admit liability, you should not approach the council if you are thinking of taking out an indemity insurance for the structure as otherwise this will simply scupper any chances there may have been for arranging this cover.
Similarly , it is not in the interests of a purchaser to alert Local Authority by trying to discuss a non-signed off structure for the same reasons.
You should always approach these matters via your solicitor and take their advice as they are best placed to advise on these matters.
Further reading on the subject of regularisation applications :
Above is a good explanatory article from the Governments Planning Portal Website.
Disclaimer : We are not Solicitors or Insurance Advisors please read below :
Disclaimer : The above information is simply our understanding of these matters and we would advise that you always discuss any lack of planning or building regulations approvals, completion certificates or other paperwork with your solicitor who is best placed to advise you on the best way forward.
We therefore cannot be responsible for any loss either directly or inderectly associated with this blog.
Always consult with your legal team first before purchasing a property or approaching the local authority when deciding whether or not to purchase a property that has non compliant structures / conversion or items that have not had a building regulations completion certificate issued for them.