Building regulations for loft conversion: should we buy a house with no approval for the existing extension?

Question: My partner and I have viewed a house we both really like but we’ve heard from another estate agent that selling it is proving difficult as there’s no building regulations approval for the loft conversion. Is this an issue?

Answer: Building regulations govern the standards required for any new construction works, to ensure the safety of occupiers.

Where work such as a loft conversion has been done without building regulations approval, clearly there’s some doubt as to whether it is safe.

If you intend to use mortgage finance as part of your purchase, your lender may insist on satisfactory approval being obtained.

In order to establish whether the conversion is in line with building regulations it would be sensible to instruct a building surveyor to inspect the works.

The seller may be willing to offer indemnity insurance to cover the breach but this does not resolve the issue that the works may be unsafe.

For example, there may be no means of escape from the loft in the event of a fire.

You could insist the seller applies to the local authority for retrospective approval. However, they may be unwilling to do so, because if the works don’t meet required standards, the seller will have to carry out the remedial works.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Piers King, email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here.

Piers King is a solicitor in the property department of Streathers Solicitors LLP.