5 Home Improvements That Add Value But Don't Need Planning Permission

Getting planning permission for improvements you wish to make in your home can be a lengthy, stressful and costly process. But did you know that most property owners enjoy Permitted Development rights, which allows them to go ahead with a wide range of upgrades and renovations without the need to apply for formal consent?



When does Permitted Development apply?


The General Permitted Development Order came into force in 2015 as a statutory instrument and a ‘blanket’ consent for a wide range of works, subject to meeting specific criteria.


The legislation can be confusing and complex and it’s always highly recommended that you check with your local planning authority that you’re acting within the law before you start any building works.


What’s more, there are certain situations where Permitted Development will NOT apply. Importantly, this includes flats, maisonettes and other leasehold properties.


It also does not apply to properties in ‘designated areas’ which includes Conservation Areas, National Parks and AONBs, World Heritage Sites and the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads.


Finally, your planning authority may have removed some of your Permitted Development rights by issuing an ‘Article 4’ direction – typically in Conservation Areas.


On the upside, if your home and the proposed works are eligible under your Permitted Development rights, there’s plenty you can do to improve your home. Here are the top five investments you can make.


1. Loft Conversions


Converting underused attic space into additional habitable space is one of the most popular and financially savvy techniques to enhance the quality and value of a property.


The new room in the loft helps you make the most of the space in your home, whether you designate it as a home office, guest room or hobby studio.


Most straightforward loft extensions including dormers and hip-to-gable conversions will fall within your Permitted Development rights.


Just make sure you don’t exceed the permitted volume (40 cubic metres for terraced houses, 50 cubic metres of additional roof space for semi-detached and detached houses), don’t alter the roof pitch and ensure you use similar building materials to the rest of the property.


2. Roof Works and Solar Panels


Solar PV roof installations are now experiencing a resurgence of interest. This is a direct result of the current energy crisis driving a sharp increase in utility bills, which is motivating homeowners to look for ways to make their properties as energy efficient as possible. According to some reports, solar systems now pay for themselves in less than 5 years.


Your photovoltaic array should be positioned on an unshaded south, south-west or south-east facing roof for maximum electrical output. It should be sited in a way to minimise its visual impact on the building and the neighbourhood and protrude no more than 20mm beyond the roof plane. Solar installations don’t have to go on the roof – they can also be put on outbuildings or ground-mounted.



While we’re on the subject of sustainable heating technologies, you may also like to know that ground-source heat pumps or air-source heat pumps can also be installed under Permitted Development.


Roof repairs, alterations and replacements (including the use of different roofing materials) should also be covered by Permitted Development rights. Make sure that any alterations don’t project more than 150mm from the existing plane. Should you be planning to fit external roof insulation, this should give you enough depth to play with.


3. Building Extensions


Extending the footprint of your property is another excellent way to increase its value. How about adding a small porch to the front of the building for a more generous entranceway? You could build a conservatory at the rear to connect the house with the garden and bring the outside in.


For practicality and durability, finish off the new areas with luxury vinyl flooring, Amtico or Karndean, ideally with underfloor heating. As one supplier puts it, “from the authentic look of real wood planks to the modern texture of quarried stone, these floors are perfect for modern living today and tomorrow.”


Under Permitted Development you can add a single-storey extension to the back of a detached house to a maximum length of 4 metres. A side extension can also be constructed, up to half the width of the original building.


Two-storey rear extensions are also possible, as long as they don’t extend further than 3 metres and don’t come within 7 metres of the rear boundary. Make sure the materials used match the rest of the house and observe any boundary rules.



4. External Insulation


If you want to future proof your home against rising energy costs while making it more sustainable, having effective home insulation in place is key.


Did you know that in under insulated homes, up to 40% of heat is lost through the walls, around 25% of heat escapes through the roof and 20% through windows and doors? To make energy efficiency improvements, you can fit your property with internal or external insulation.


Internal work won’t require planning consent. However, with the benefit of Permitted Development, exterior home insulation which is applied so it doesn’t change the building’s outside appearance is also classed as internal work.


This means you can install rigid board insulation and external cladding as long as it doesn’t increase the height of the building or move the front wall closer to the roadside. Any painting and decorating, repairing or replacing the cladding on the property must furthermore broadly match the original in appearance.



5. Garage Conversions


One of the easiest ways to add extra living space to your home is with a garage conversion. Do you have an integrated garage that’s used for storing anything and everything except a car? It might be time to take control and make something of the space. The new room could be a study or home office or consulting room, a playroom for the kids, a home gym or a TV lounge.


Planning permission is not usually needed for this type of home improvement project to repurpose a garage for residential use, just so long as the work doesn’t enlarge the building and is purely internal.


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