6 Major Home Improvements You Can Do Without Planning Permission

This page is part of our new blog and contains ideas for major home improvements that don’t require planning permission.

Whether you’re planning to extend, upgrade or remodel your home, you may not need planning permission.

The government has recognised that many homeowners would like extra space but do not want to relocate. They also appreciate that land is at a premium and adding extra space to existing homes is one way to ease the pressure that’s currently affecting the housing market.

Permitted Development Rights allow many homeowners to make significant changes to their home. These rules apply to most houses but not flats or maisonettes. Commercial development rights are also different to those that apply to domestic dwellings.

Tip: Even projects that are outside the scope of the planning permission rules still need to meet Building Regulations.

Your First Step

You may be able to make changes to your home without planning permission if you do not live in:

  • A Conservation Area
  • A National Park
  • An Area of Outstanding Beauty
  • A World Heritage Site
  • The Suffolk or Norfolk Broads
  • A Listed Building

Assuming none of the above applies to you, your first step is to check your local authority hasn’t implemented Article 4. This article allows local councils to override the Permitted Development Rights for specific areas:

Article 4 directions are made when the character of an area of acknowledged importance would be threatened. They are most common in conservation areas – Planning Portal

If Article 4 has been applied, you’ll need to apply for planning permission via the usual route.

Loft Conversions

Windows in loft converted space

Loft conversions are one of the most popular methods of creating extra living space; they’re also the least disruptive as most of the work is done from the outside. The only work that needs to be done indoors is the staircase and some piping and wiring.

Over 75% of all loft conversions in the UK are completed under “Permitted Planning” rules, in other words; no planning permission is required.

Some rules need to be followed:

  • The height of the extension must not be higher than the original height of the property.
  • The extension must not extend laterally beyond the original width or length of the property.
  • Dormers can only be constructed at the rear of the roof (although roof windows can be used to the front).
  • No more than 40 cubic metres in size for terraced homes and 50 cubic metres for semi-detached or detached dwellings.
  • Side windows must be obscured.
  • No verandas or balconies.
  • The materials must be similar in appearance to the original structure.
  • Loft conversions are not permitted in certain areas.

The Planning Portal is the best place for information about loft conversions, permitted developments and planning permission rules.

We’ve created an in-depth price guide for loft conversions in the UK; this page also contains links to the relevant Planning Portal website pages.

Front Porches

You can construct a porch around your front door provided that:

  • The total floor area of the front porch does not exceed 3 square metres
  • It is not higher than 3 metres
  • No part of the porch is within 2 metres of the boundary, a public path or a road
  • The front entrance door must be kept in its original location (i.e. you can’t have an open plan porch).

Our guide to front porch prices has plenty more information including links to the relevant government website pages.

Garage Conversions

Internal garages can be converted, and in most cases, this doesn’t require planning permission as you’re not technically “extending” your home as all the work is done inside the original footprint of the building.

Planning permission is not usually required, providing the work is internal and does not involve enlarging the building. – Planning Portal

Most internal garages are rarely used to store cars and instead become a storage ground for items that could be relocated elsewhere.

A recent survey of property experts revealed that a typical garage conversion would increase the price of an average home by up to 10%.

The cost of a straight forward internal garage conversion is upwards of £9000, this assumes the space will be converted to a play room, dining room or similar.

If you want to extend the kitchen into the new space or you want to create an open plan kitchen diner, this will involve significant remodelling of the area and steel joists to support the upper walls. Expect the cost to be around £13000 – £16000 for a single garage conversion.

Relocating gas meters and other utilities such electricity meters, consumer units and broadband cables etc. will also add to the cost as will using the services of an architect.

The Planning Portal has more information about garage conversions. Detached garages will probably require planning permission, as will linked garages.

This page has more detailed information about garage conversion costs.

Single Storey Extensions

You might be able to build a single storey extension under the Permitted Planning route if:

  • It’s not a front extension.
  • Side extensions fronting a highway cannot be constructed under the Permitted Planning route.
  • Side extensions (and not fronting a highway) must not be greater than 50% of the width of the original building (exc previous extensions).
  • Side and rear extensions must not be higher than 4 metres (roof top to ground).
  • Rear extension depth not greater than 3 metres for an attached house or 4 metres for a detached dwelling – these rules have been temporarily relaxed but are subject to a Neighbour Consultation Scheme,
  • The eaves and roof ridge must not be higher than the eaves/roof ridge on the original house.
  • If the extension is within 2 metres of the boundary, the eaves must not be higher than 3 metres.
  • Extensions must not occupy more than 50% of the total area of land around the original building (when it was built, so include existing extensions in your calculations).

Head over to this page on the Planning Portal website for more information about single storey extensions.

Double Storey Extensions

Two-storey extensions can only be constructed under the Permitted Development route if it’s located in the rear garden.

The build must not exceed 3 metres in depth from the building and should be at least 7 metres from the rear boundary.

The roof pitch should also match that of the original roof, as much as possible. The extension should also be constructed from materials that match the original house.

Rules regarding eaves, ridges and balconies are similar to that of single storey extensions.

Any upper floor windows on the side of the extension should be obscured and non-opening. If an opener is desired, it must be at least 1.7 metres from the floor.

The extension, including any previous extensions AND any existing sheds and outbuildings, must not exceed 50% of the land around the house.

The Planning Portal has a mini guide to assist you.

House Extension Price Guide

This page reveals how much it costs to extend a house with either a single or double storey extension, it was updated in late 2017 and the prices are per square metre.

Conservatories

Conservatories are one of the most popular ways to increase the floor space of a home.

There are tons of options to choose from, and the roof doesn’t have to made from plastic or glass, tiles can be used instead. Blinds can be fitted to reduce the amount of light entering the conservatory and to provide you with privacy.

Most central heating systems can be easily extended into the conservatory keeping you warm in the winter. Air conditioning can also be installed to keep you cool during the hottest summer days and evening.

You may be able to install a conservatory under Permitted Planning rules if:

  • The height does not exceed the height of the original house.
  • It’s not located in the front garden or any side garden that fronts a highway.
  • The width of the conservatory must not be greater than 50% of the original house when it was built.
  • The height must not be greater than 4 metres if located to the side of a house.
  • If located (side or rear) within 2 metres of a boundary, the eaves must not be higher than 3 metres.
  • The conservatory should not extend more than 3 metres beyond the rear wall of an attached house or 4 metres for a detached dwelling.

The government has temporarily relaxed some of these rules but only for a limited time and subject to a Neighbour Consultation Scheme.

We’ve created a very informative price guide for conservatories and here you’ll find our guide to conservatory blinds.

The Difference Between Building Regulations and Planning Permission

Building Regulations are separate from planning permission and Permitted Development rules. You’ll still need to meet all the requirements for Building Regulation approval if they apply to your project.

While planning permission usually covers the visual impact of your build, access requirements and how it impacts your neighbours and surrounding area, the Building Regulations cover the safety and structural integrity aspects of your development.

This page contains links to relevant parts of the Building Regulations code.

A Sensible Disclaimer

This page contains a summary of what you may be able to do under Permitted Planning rules, it’s an introduction and should not be seen as a definitive guide.

You should always consult your local planning authority before proceeding with any work. Rules and regulations change periodically, and the information on this page may no longer be relevant,

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have their own version of these rules, and they may differ from the rest of the UK.

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