Making changes to your home can be exciting. Moving or remodelling a bathroom, creating an extra room with an extension, or giving the garden a makeover with new decking and a summer house for example – there are lots of possibilities.
Before making any big changes, it’s important to find out whether you need to apply for planning permission. Planning permission is a process you need to go through for certain home improvements and involves asking the local council if you’re able to make the changes. They will check if your plans are suitable and won’t cause any problems, and they will also ask your neighbours for their opinion. If you own a listed building and are looking to extend or alter you will also need to obtain listed building consent. Only once permission has been granted can you begin the identified work.
Once any modifications have been made to your home, you must notify your insurance provider too, as the value of your property may have changed and could impact your annual premium and the amount of cover you have. In some cases, not providing this information could invalidate your policy.
Below, you can find the changes and renovations you do and don’t need planning permission for. Where planning permission isn’t required, this is known as ‘permitted development’, a term you’ll find used quite a lot below.
The information in this article is correct as of September 2021 for planning permission in England. The regulations may differ if you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Always check with your local council if you’re unsure about whether you do or don’t need planning permission.
Whether you need planning permission for an extension mainly depends on the size of the extension, where it will sit in relation to boundaries and the materials that will be used.
You must apply for planning permission for an extension if:
These regulations may differ if your house is built on designated land – this is land that sits on or within a conservation area, a place of outstanding natural beauty, a World Heritage site or a National Park – so do check the exact rules with your local council before assuming that you do or don’t need planning permission.
The same rules apply to a conservatory as above. You will also need planning permission for a conservatory if:
When any of these things aren’t the case, as well as the bullet points under the extensions section, the conservatory will be considered permitted development and you won’t need to apply for permission.
You will need planning permission for a loft extension in England if:
The rules around loft conversions and extensions can be confusing, so do visit the Planning Portal website for all the information. The Planning Portal was established by the UK Government in 2002 and is the home of planning and building regulations information and the national planning application service for England and Wales.
It’s worth noting that a loft conversion is different to that of a loft extension, and so if you’re not altering the size of the loft, you may not need planning permission. You might, however, require a building inspection upon the completion of work to ensure it adheres to Building Regulations and is signed off.
The planning permission rules for porches are a little simpler than extensions and conservatories.
You will need planning permission for a porch in England if:
A shed is considered an outbuilding, which, according to Planning Portal, also includes garages, greenhouses, playhouses, saunas, summer houses, kennels and even swimming pools. This means, for all of these structures, the planning regulations are the same.
An outbuilding, such as a shed, would need planning permission if:
Many standard sheds won’t fall into these categories, and so your shed should generally be considered permitted development. Before installing, you should check that the height will fall within the above limits.
A summer house counts as an outbuilding, which means the same rules apply as they do for a shed above.
Pergolas also count as outbuildings, and so the same rules also apply as above for sheds.
Planning permission is not usually required, providing the work is internal and does not involve enlarging the building.
If your intention is to convert a garage into a separate house (regardless of who will occupy it), then planning permission may be required no matter what work is involved. We advise that you discuss such proposals with your to ensure that any work you do is lawful and correctly permissioned.
You may need planning permission for decking and other raised platforms if the total height will be more than 30cm above the ground and if their total area covers more than 50% of the garden area, together with extensions and outbuildings.
Solar panels are usually considered permitted development and so it’s very rare that you will need to apply for planning permission prior to installation. If you’re unsure or believe your circumstances differ to those of a regular property, you should contact your local council and discuss your situation and requirements.
Some of the planning elements are very specific, especially when it comes to large changes to your home, such as extensions, conservatories and outbuildings. If in doubt, you should always confirm with your local council the changes you want to make, and they will advise whether they fall under permitted development or not.
It’s important that your home is insured while renovation work is being completed, but does your standard insurance policy cover renovations?
Buildings insurance will cover the building itself, including fixtures and fittings, garden walls, fences and driveways. Contents insurance includes any household goods and valuables, including money, business equipment and electrical gadgets. It’s important that you have both to ensure that everything in your home is protected.
You may not have previously thought about where your property boundaries are or which fences belong to you, but knowing this information could be of assistance should you ever need to claim on your home insurance.