Building work that can be done without planning permission

Some home improvements are classified by the planning authority as being a permitted development. This means you won't need to apply for planning permission to carry them out.

However, local planning authorities have the power to remove some permitted development rights to the area. So it's always best to contact your local planning authority for guidance before you start any work and have written proof that you are, indeed, exempt.

And remember, Building Regulation approval is often needed, even if the building work is classified as a permitted development.

The following types of work may fall under the permitted developments exception:

Household extensions (excluding flats)

Planning permission isn't needed for the following extensions:

  • General
    Extend a house up to 70 cubic metres or up to 15 percent of its original size (to a maximum of 112 cubic metres).
  • Terraced houses
    The extension can be 50 cubic metres or a 10 percent increase in size.
  • Single storey extensions
    The roof pitch can't extend past four metres to the ridge or three metres for a flat roof.
  • Two storey extensions
    You can build up to the existing floor level. Technically, this means you shouldn't have any problems adding a second storey above a garage, as long as the extension keeps within two metres of the property's boundary.
  • Porches
    Porches need to be:
    • Less than three square metres in size
    • Not more than three metres high
    • Over two metres away from the property's boundary and the pavement/road

Garden structures

Examples include sheds or swimming pools. These don't need permission as long as:

  • They're not for residential use
  • They don't front onto a road
  • Height doesn't exceed four metres (pitched), three metres (flat roof)
  • They don't exceed more than half the garden size

Adding a garage or off-road parking

Off-road parking is fine as long as it's only on your land and no new route needs to be created for your vehicle to gain access. It's only private vehicles too and should it need to cross a pavement/footpath, written permission from the Highway Authority of your local council is needed to drop the kerb from the road.

Loft, garage or outbuilding conversion

Loft conversions are allowed as long as the general dimensions of the property are unchanged and living space does not exceed 40 cubic metres (terraced house) or 50 cubic metres (detached property). The roof height must be maintained.

Whether you need planning permission to convert a garage or building on your property depends on what you're going to use it for and where you live. You would struggle to get permission to convert a building normally used for parking in London, for example.

Visit the website of your local planning office to find out exactly if and why you need planning permission for any planned conversions.

Doors and windows

Replacing windows and doors doesn't require permission in England and Wales (unless you live in a listed property or live in a specially designated area).

Building Regulations approval is needed for additions such as roof lights and skylights, but planning permission is not normally required.

Gates, walls and fences

Any gate, wall, fence or hedge is normally ok as long as its height does not exceed one metre near the boundary of a public highway or two metres elsewhere.

Check that your title deed does not say anything about erecting any form of barrier. It's recommended that you talk to your planning office as public highways have a complex set of construction restrictions to them.

Garden walls also have height and width restrictions placed on them. They depend on what part of the country you live in.

Solar panels and wind turbines

Solar panels don't require permission – as long as they are a standard design and don't adversely affect the roof line or protrude beyond the slope. Double-check with your local authority and the solar panel company before you proceed.

Wind turbines are a different affair as their dimensions and location, as well as the noise, will be a concern to the planning office. Current legislation is likely to change in the coming year so check with your local planning office.

Minor home improvements

Installing a satellite dish or re-rendering/re-cladding your home is fine as long as you don't live in a special area or in a block of flats.

Decoration and other interior changes don't require planning permission, and if you need to demolish a part of your property that's fine too, as long as it belongs to you and no-one else is affected.

It is strongly recommended that you check you're not demolishing a supporting structure such as a pillaring wall. Also confirm with the planning office that you can demolish all or part of a building as mistakes cannot be rectified.

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