You may have seen in the national press that the government has recently announced new permitted development (PD) rights, along with proposals to streamline planning, in a bid to unblock the system and enable delivery of more new homes.
But what do the rule changes mean for self builders and home extenders?
PD is the regime that allows you to make certain changes to an existing building without having to obtain formal planning permission.
It covers projects such as loft extensions, rear extensions, porches, outbuildings and – in recent times – the conversion of barns and offices into residential use.
From the end of August, PD will also give you the option to demolish detached offices and industrial buildings to replace them with new homes, as well as the opportunity to add two
full extra storeys to the top of an existing house (or one additional storey to a bungalow).
Fast-tracking such projects will supercharge the conversion and extension sectors. Any support for the self and custom build sector is welcome, but there’s always more to do.
Access to suitable land remains key, and allowing more demolish and rebuild is one piece of the puzzle.
Of course, there is still a need to ensure the Right to Build legislation works as intended, ideally with a Help to Build scheme coming to fruition.
Hopefully it won’t just be the big developers who benefit from the government’s plans.
We need to see the number of self builds increase, as this is vital to driving up diversity and quality in the market.
Many homeowners and self builders find the thought of going through the bureaucratic and expensive process of planning quite daunting.
This new lifting of red tape will help boost people who are looking for land, as well as those keen to increase their existing living space to accommodate working from home (or WFH, as we now know it).
The pandemic situation has introduced a new design emphasis for new builds and extensions.
Now architects are urgently having to consider the inclusion of ergonomic and secure home offices, as it’s unlikely workplaces will ever return as they were.
It’s a real game-changer. This is nothing new to us at Self-Build Zone. We’ve been involved in providing homeworkers’ insurance policies since 1994.
It was predicted millions of us would be working from home by the mid-1990s – it’s just taken a little longer for the change to come about.
Now that planning consent appears to be a given in many circumstances, what do you need to consider?
A small extension or conversion project under your standard home insurance.
So, during the works the structure will need to be covered by a specific site insurance policy that includes not only the new works, but also the existing building.
Your existing contents still need to be covered, too, and it’s important to check this policy thoroughly.
During the works, it’s quite likely you’ll have exposed window and door openings, or unfitted locks, while the house alarm may be switched off temporarily, too.
This may mean you’re not able to meet the security conditions set out in your contents insurance. A good site insurance policy will cover this, too.
If you’re getting involved with construction works you’re not used to, such as with two-storey extensions on top of an existing building, then consider bringing in a suitably qualified project manager with experience in this type of scheme. It will save you time and money at the end of the day.
Irrespective of the easing of planning rules, you still need to ensure works comply with the current Building Regs.
Much of this can be taken care of by engaging an approved inspector and, on small projects, using competent persons.
Whenever you undertake substantial home extension or conversion work, it always makes sense to obtain a 10-year structural warranty.
Taking this out through insurers like Self-Build Zone will give you the extra comfort of having the project overseen with technical audits as a second line of defence, in addition to the normal building control inspections.
Try to think long-term. These proposed changes to PD regulations will encourage many of you to extend or convert, but you must protect yourself against all eventualities by taking out the correct insurance policies.
And, of course, before you undertake a project, you should always investigate whether your plans represent good value for money.
Paul Kempton is managing director of insurance and warranty specialist Self-Build Zone. He has many years’ experience looking after projects of all sizes, including high net worth and high risk clients where security is paramount. Log on to Self Build Zone to find out more.