Problem with extensions

Having been successful on a house I was bidding on we have progressed to pre-contract phase.

The house we are looking at has a small extension which is below the size required for planning permission, which is fine. However, our surveyor said we need a certificate from the vendor to state that it is in compliance with building regulations. They say they don’t have one and can’t obtain one.

To me, that introduces an element of risk into the purchase. Quite aside from the fact that financing may not be as easy to obtain if a certificate can’t be supplied I am being asked to pay as if it is in compliance. As far as I can see, if you can’t provide compliance with building regulations I would need to account for that additional risk be reducing the price I had bid for the property by say 2-3%, assuming that I even still want to buy the property?

Does this seem a reasonable approach, or does anyone have experience in a similar situation?

Firstly, take what I say with a grain of salt. There are 2 parts to this:

  1. Planning
    do you need planning permission?
    Is the total area under 40m2? (20m2 for a terraced house)
    Is it a rear extension?

  2. Compliance
    Depending on when the extension was built, the extension is required to comply with building regulations therefore you need to get someone to certify compliance with building regulations.
    If it was me I would get a professional to certify compliance with building regulations AND exemption from planning.

My advice is talk to your solicitor, get some professional advice on exactly what you need to have in place before proceeding.

What does your solicitor advise?

This is why you should have had a survey done before bidding and the vendor should have stated to all bidders that they will not be providing a certificate of compliance for the extension. Then ye all bid with all the facts in front of you.

Can you not hire someone to do the certificate of compliance yourself and deduct it from the purchase price?

@sala: how is this different then requiring the vendors to have one provided?

@greentree: it would be a very expensive exercise if everyone needed a full survey done before bidding on a house. Simplest solution is to make a survey a requirement of selling your house and have the vendor pay for a full survey similar to how they are required to have a BER in order to sell their house.

It’s not actually… I was just thinking about it… It’s their job to provide it. Even if you pull out of the sale they’ll have the same problem next time. So they either get it done or swear a declaration that it is exempt

Exempt from what?

Even if it’s exempted development from a planning perspective it still needs to be certified to be safely constructed.

How old is the extenstion?

70% of houses out there do not comply with the latest revision of the building regs, this is not a show stopper!

Whats important is that the survey doesn’t show any issues with the extension itself.

Only if it was built after the building regulations came into force

This might be useful.

conveyancinghandbook.lawsociety. … /07-73.pdf

Yeah that’s the date I couldn’t recall - 1992. So if it’s a very old extension it may be exempt. Otherwise they’ll have to get the cert.

But your solicitor should deal with all of this for you

Thanks, was after 1992 so will tell the solicitor to press them for either cert or reduction or they can try and find another buyer.

You are being too dramatic! Unless the extension was built in the last 5 years it will not comply with the latest building regs and you wont be able to get a cert for the work done. Survey is key here to highlight any issues.

This is only a problem for you if you:

  1. Have bid more than you are happy to pay and want a reduction
  2. Dont actually want the house

Otherwise this is not a show stopper.

It doesn’t need to comply with the latest building regs, but it ought to comply with the regs in force at the time of construction.

A survey will give no reassurance that it won’t fall down and kill you.

That said, even an original cert of compliance won’t guarantee it’s safe, see Berkeley balconies for instance. But it’s a perfectly reasonable requirement.

This document lists building works which are exempt from the regulations (1990 & 1997)
e.g. single storey exemptions of a certain size.

I think the question of compliance comes down to whether the extension is exempt or not. Which is a measuring tape question.
What does a compliance cert mean in respect of an exempt structure? If it is exempt, what does it need to comply with?

What does OP expect compliance cert to say:
Extension is exempt due to size being x metres?

It is a bit crap that this requirement has surfaced but was rarely mentioned by architects, engineers, builders etc. at the time many extensions were built. Did banks require it for loans? It is of course a perfectly reasonable requirement but the manner in which it has materialized is far from satisfactory in my opinion. On the other hand maybe it is just a consequence of the often standard Irish practice of introducing a requirement but not enforcing it for a long time before suddenly overnight it becomes an issues following a court-case or a decision by an insurance company etc.

Agreed. But, you cant get a retrospective certification for out of date regulations. As far as i’m aware they can only certify to the existing regulations which it more than likely wont comply with.


Our solicitor pointed out 2 issues.

  1. We will be asked to produce said certificate as and when we ever decide to sell the property
  2. If you want further work done to the property you may not get planning permission unless you “rebuild” the extension to show it is in line with building regs. While an extension below a certain size is exempt planning permission, it is not exempt compliance with building regs so your point is incorrect and it is definitely a show-stopper.

As far as I am concerned, you sell something and fail to disclose an issue it is mis-selling. There is a price for risk and this must be altered when new facts come to light.

But is it a legal requirement to complete the sale or just something your solicitor is recommending?