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6 home improvements you don’t need planning permission for

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Planning Permission, the words that send a shiver down every homeowner's spine. While there’s no easy way around it there are many things you can do to your home that don’t require planning permission. Permitted Development (PD) rights allow homeowners to make alterations to their homes. Let’s take a look at what you can do with no paperwork.

Every local authority is different and listed homes have their own rules so please double check that your development is included in your PD rights.

Adding a porch

A porch is a small entryway normally fitted in front of your front door. They’re a great area to store wet shoes and coats without traipsing them into your house. Porches are the only type of addition you can make beyond the front wall of your property.

You can choose from a flat or pitched roof but it cannot be higher than three meters. The porch cannot be bigger than three square meters and no part of it is nearer than two meters from any road. Apart from that, you can create your porch how you like.

Convert a basement

A basement remodel is fine if you are using an existing lower-ground room, such as a coal store. If you need to create this space by excavating a basement you would need planning permission.

Opening up internal rooms

Inside your home you can do almost anything you like. Remove walls to open up the space, add walls to create extra rooms, and remodel existing spaces. Many people have created office spaces at home, removed en-suites to make larger bedrooms, and knocked through a kitchen and reception room to make a large kitchen diner.

If you are removing a load bearing-wall you will normally require a Rolled Steel Joint (RSJ). It’s important to get a structural engineer to assess the work. They will calculate the correct load and take measurements for the beam. You will need to check with your local council if you need planning permission for this. Make sure you have proof the work has been done correctly you can incur problems when it comes to selling your home.

Alter walls, gates, and fences

As long as you don’t increase the height of the original structure you have free reign to do what you like. You can carry out improvements, maintenance work, or simply remove them. However, any increase in height will need planning permission.

Before you do anything you need to know if it’s your fence, your neighbours, or a shared responsibility. Fence boundaries can be seen by looking at the title plans of the house. A T will show your side of the fence and it is your responsibility to keep it updated. If there is a H it is a joint responsibility of you and your neighbour. Updating a joint fence would need to be discussed and agreed with you and the other person responsible for it.

Solar panels

Solar panels are not only a great environmentally friendly investment, but they also reduce your energy bills. You can get solar panels for both water and electricity.

Whilst there are no grants for solar panels, the government instead offers a scheme called the Feed-In Tariff. This pays you money for 20 years after your solar panels have been installed. This means that any of your unused energy goes back into the grid and the government pays you for it. You would earn 4p per kWh for what you generate and 5.38p per kWh for the excess energy you give back to the grid. This can save the average home roughly £270 on electricity bills annually.

Summer house heaven

Detached, external buildings are also allowed under PD. However, there are lots of rules which dictate where you can build them and what size they are.

Any external buildings must be located in the rear or side garden. You cannot build one out the front of your house. They can only be single storey and they cannot be taller than the walls of your home. The footprint of any external building cannot exceed more than 50 percent of the garden itself.

When looking to do home improvements it is important to always check your area's rules. These can be found on your local government website. While these are the current rules in the UK it could change at any time.

Larger home improvements like adding an extension or converting your roof will need planning permission. Planning permission can be confusing so we will shortly be adding an article on the ins and outs of planning permission.

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