How To Sell A House Without Building Regulations

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Thinking of selling your house soon? If this is the first time you’ve ever sold a home, you might be surprised at the number of things that can keep you from a successful sale. You could have issues with your estate agent or get a misleading valuation. You could have trouble getting viewings from buyers, and once you do, there could be all kinds of delays for various reasons. One of the biggest problems people run into when selling a home, though, is when changes have been made to the property, but they have no building regulations completion certificate. When did building regulations start? Is there a building regulations enforcement period? Is there a way to find out how to get a copy of a building regulations certificate in the UK? What if your home is in non-compliance with building regulations? Can you even sell at that point?  This guide can help you get the answers you need if you don’t have a building regulation certificate of compliance for your home while you’re trying to sell.

What Are Building Regulations?

In the UK, any time structural works are done or there’s a change to the services or the pipes in a home (or a business), the owner must obtain a completion certificate. This is true any time there’s electrical work performed (even the installation of solar panels), on all new builds, for any extensions or alterations that are made, for any heating and cooling installations that are made, for any plumbing work completed, and for any replacement windows or doors that are installed.

Here’s a quick example. Imagine you have a loft conversion done where you convert some unused space in your home into a living space. You’ll need a building regulation completion certificate at the end of that work. In theory, you would hang on to that until you sell your home.

The certificate itself matters because it proves that the work you had done meets the standards that the local council’s building regulations department has previously laid out.

Typically, a council inspector is notified before any work begins. That allows them to inspect at the beginning, throughout, and eventually, at the end of the job. Just because there’s no certificate doesn’t necessarily mean the work isn’t as it should be. The problem, though, is that a building regulations office has to inspect the work from the very start, so it’s tough to get a retrospective certificate.

Selling A House With No Building Regulation Completion Certificate

When you sell your house, the conveyancing solicitor will ask you to complete several different forms on the property the moment you accept an offer. These forms ask you to disclose whether any work has been carried out on your home. They also ask you to attach copies of the building regulations approvals to the forms.

If you have had work done to your home, and you don’t have building regulations approvals, don’t panic. The most important thing you can do is be honest on these forms. You should never try to omit any details. If the buyer does find an issue that you know about, they can take further legal action against you, and you could be held responsible for any losses the court deems they suffered. You’ll have to pay for all of the work to fix it, all of their legal fees, and the associated drop in the property’s value.

Not having a completion certificate could slow down the sale or lead to a price renegotiation, but that’s not always the case. There are some options you have if you’re working to sell your home, and we’ll talk about those in just a bit.

What If The Work Was Completed By The Previous Owner?

Many believe the need for a building regulations certificate for work completed gets a bit tricky if work was carried out by the person who owned the building before you. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t see it quite that way. Even if there was work completed by the previous owner, once you own the property, you become responsible for anything in your home that doesn’t meet the local authority’s building regulations. Even if the previous owner who had the work completed should have been the one to obtain permissions and certificates of completion, you are now responsible for that problem.

Keep in mind that not all work completed is subject to building regulations, and building regulations do change over time. If that’s the situation, and there was work done that did not fit under building regulations at the time, you may not even need a completion certificate, and your buyer may not need one either. The reality, though, is that it’s on you to handle the due diligence to figure out whether a certificate is required (or was required at the time the work was completed).

The Four And Ten-Year Rules

As you research building certificate options for your property if you don’t already have one, you may come across the building regulations 4-year rule and the building regulations 10-year rule. The idea here is that any home becomes immune to enforcement action if the local authority hasn’t moved to make changes within a given timeline. The four-year rule is the idea that your home is immune to enforcement if an operational change (like an extension or a loft conversion) hasn’t been subject to penalties within four years. Everything else is subject to the ten-year rule. In other words, if other changes have been made, but no enforcement action has been taken within ten years, you’re safe. Once the immunity period hits, you can apply for a certificate of Lawfulness if the dwelling has been in continuous use since the changes were made.

What You Can Do If You Don’t Have A Building Regulations Certificate

If you find that you’re ready to sell your home, but you don’t have a certificate, you do have a couple of options. The first is to apply for building control approval for the changes.  This process, known as “regularisation,” involves an inspection by a building control surveyor to assess whether the works meet the relevant regulations and standards.

While the regularisation process may be time-consuming and complex, it is the recommended path to finding a resolution. If your project meets the required standards, you will receive a regularisation certificate. It’s important to note that this inspection must be conducted by local authority inspectors, and there will be associated costs.

However, if the completed work fails to meet the necessary standards, you will be responsible for rectifying any issues at your own expense. This can be disruptive and financially burdensome.

If that doesn’t seem like the right route, you may want indemnity insurance. What is indemnity insurance when buying a house? Building regulations indemnity insurance is a type of insurance that provides coverage to property owners or purchasers for any potential breaches of building regulations or lack of compliance with the approved plans and regulations. It is designed to protect the policyholder from financial losses that may arise if the local authority takes enforcement action due to non-compliance with building regulations.

Building Regulation Indemnity Insurance is typically obtained when there is no completion certificate or regularisation certificate available for works that have been carried out without the necessary building regulations approval. This insurance policy helps to mitigate the risks associated with potential enforcement action, such as the cost of rectifying any non-compliant work or potential fines.

It’s important to note that Building Regulation Indemnity Insurance does not provide a remedy for non-compliance with building regulations. Instead, it offers financial protection in case the local authority takes action.

If you think this might be the right route, you’ll want to talk to your solicitor, as he or she will help you explore both the risks and benefits of this option. The biggest advantage, of course, is that it protects your buyer and his or her lender if there are problems that can’t be resolved. The downside, though, is that you can’t notify the local authority of the potential problem. That invalidates the policy, and once they have enforcement action underway, you can’t get a policy anyway.

Indemnity insurance for building regulations works like that. You purchase a policy. You make one single payment. That one payment covers the cost of any enforcement action authorities might take while the other person owns the home. In most cases, you can simply get a policy through your conveyancing solicitor. While the price can vary, in most cases, it’s less than £175 for the average-priced property.

There are situations where a buyer pays for the policy or the buyer and the seller split the cost, so you may want to have that conversation with the person buying your house.

The Bottom Line

If you don’t have a building regulations certificate, you can still sell your home. You may have to do a bit of extra work to make it happen, though.

Frequently Asked Questions

What If My Extension Was Not Signed Off By Building Control?

If your extension was not signed off or approved by building control in the UK, it means that the local authority has not formally confirmed that the construction work complies with the applicable building regulations. This can potentially have implications. It may not be safe, and you may face some challenges if you decide to sell your home. The local authority may also take some enforcement action against you.

When Did Building Regs Start?

Wondering when building regulations started? The modern system of building regulations in the UK can be traced back to the mid-20th century.

In 1965, the Building Regulations Act was introduced in England and Wales, which established the first comprehensive system of national building regulations. These regulations aimed to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of people in and around buildings. The Act provided a framework for setting standards for structural stability, fire safety, means of escape, ventilation, sanitation, and other aspects of building design and construction.

What If I Have No Building Regulation Certificate For My Boiler?

In the UK, having a building regulation certificate for your boiler installation is important as it provides evidence that the work has been carried out in compliance with the applicable building regulations. Without a certificate, you could have trouble selling your home.

Is It Illegal To Convert A Loft Without Building Regulations Permission?

In the UK, it is generally illegal to convert a loft or carry out any significant alteration or extension to a property without obtaining the necessary building regulations approval, where applicable. Building regulations are in place to ensure that construction work meets specific safety, health, and environmental standards.

The conversion of a loft typically involves changes to the structure, fire safety measures, insulation, access, and other aspects that fall under building regulations requirements. Failing to comply with these regulations can have serious consequences

I Converted My Garage without Building Regs. Now I want to Sell My House. What Do I Do?

If you already completed a project, like a garage conversion, without permission, the best first step you can take is to reach out to your local authority’s building control department and explain the situation. They will guide you on the necessary steps to rectify the non-compliance and obtain retrospective approval. If the conversion does not meet the building regulations, you will be informed about the necessary modifications or improvements that need to be made. Once the necessary remedial work is completed, you will need to submit an application for retrospective building regulations approval.

Your other option is to consult with your solicitor to make the best move forward for your property. If you’re selling your home, he or she may suggest a lack of building regulations indemnity policy to help make sure the lack of a certification isn’t a problem for the buyer of your home.

Is There A Building Regs Enforcement Time Limit?

Local authorities can only serve a Section 36 notice that requires the owner to remove the offending structure or make changes to it within 12 months of the completion of the work itself. If that hasn’t been done, they can apply for an injunction that prevents the property from being used. If the structure or the work done is deemed dangerous, they can take up proceedings after that.

What Is Indemnity Insurance When Selling a House?

This is a type of coverage that covers both the property owner and the property purchaser should a problem be discovered by the local authority. It’s designed to protect the two parties from any serious financial loss if the local council decides to take legal action because they’ve discovered something was in non-compliance with building regulations. It’s not a remedy for non-compliance. Instead, it’s just a way to protect the investment the buyer made in the house if the local authority does decide to take action against the buyer. In most cases, policies are available from conveyancing solicitors, and it’s fairly common for the seller to pay for the policy.

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