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Have you considered the Greater Crested Newt?!

By October 3, 2014April 7th, 2020Knowledge & Tips

If you are renovating your home, it’s important to keep an eye on the regulations that may apply.

The main regulatory regimes are:

  • Planning
  • Building regulations
  • and your project may also be affected by:
  • Listed building regulations
  • The Party Wall Act
  • Laws protecting plants and wildlife

The consequences of not complying with these regulations can be expensive, inconvenient and, in extreme cases, criminal…

We’ve complied a handy list of key areas where permissions and regulations may apply-

Type of work:

  • Planning laws govern work to the exterior of your home – small scale work may be exempt – though Councils don’t all interpret the rules in the same way.
  • If your house is in a Conservation Area (check online with your local authority), further local regulations restrict changes to the exterior – for example, replacing front windows is often restricted.
  • If your house is listed (check online with English Heritage), any work, inside or out that ‘affects [the] character [of the building] as of special architectural or historic interest’ must be approved in advance by the local authority.  Carrying out such work with consent is a criminal offence.

How the work is done:

  • Building regulations ensure the health and safety of building works and aim to improve energy efficiency of homes/ limit environmental damage.   Changes to the structure, electrics, plumbing, drainage, layout and doors/ windows will be affected.  Some work can be ‘self-certified’ by approved contractors; some must be notified to the local authority and checked by a building inspector.
  • If the work will affect walls you share with neighbours or is carried out within a specified distance of the foundations of a neighbouring building, the Party Wall Act will apply – this requires you to give notice in a prescribed form to the neighbours and follow the processes set out in the Act.
  • In some areas, work to trees may be restricted and if you are carrying out work that may affect the habitat of protected species of wildlife, strict rules apply – for example if your pond is the breeding ground of the greater crested newt, you can’t just fill it in.

What happens if you carry out work without following the rules:

  • The local authority may require you to re-do the work, or return the building to its original condition, at your expense
  • You may be fined for non-compliance
  • Doing work to a listed building in breach of the regs is a criminal offence (maximum penalty 2 years imprisonment/ unlimited fine)
  • Difficulties on sale – mortgage lenders often check compliance with planning laws and building regulations when agreeing to lend

Our advice:

  • Check in advance which regulations may affect you
  • Take advice on likelihood of obtaining permission
  • Factor the time needed to give notice/ obtain consent into the project timetable
  • Allow for planning application fees and building inspection costs in your budget.
  • Ensure final certificates are obtained as necessary and kept safely

Organising renovations from start to finish is what we do – Drop us an email at and we’ll be delighted to discuss your potential renovation in relation to planning and regulations.

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