Home Extensions: Factors To Be Aware Of

Things To Consider When Planning Your Home Extension

Increasing the amount of living space in a property is becoming more popular. However, numerous people begin their home extension projects without being aware of a number of factors. These factors cover a myriad of subjects ranging from legal requirements and obligations to the construction process itself. Collected beneath are a number of factors home owners should be aware of prior to commencing a home extension project.

The legal “right to light”:

A right to light is a form of legal easement which overrides any planning permission a home owner may possess and can also affect their development rights. Theoretically the legal right to light can stop a home extension from blocking their neighbour’s window. However in practice the right to light only refers to the reasonable level of light required to use the building. In cases were a proposed home extension causes right to light grievances it is advisable to seek the legal advice of a specialist lawyer.

Minimum ceiling height:

Although there is no longer a legal minimum ceiling height, there still exists a practical ceiling height, especially in basement conversions and loft conversions. All rooms should aim to conform to a floor to ceiling height of 2.1 metres. In rooms which have sloping ceilings 50% of the room should have a floor to ceiling height of 2.1 metres.

Conservation areas have different rules:

Home owners living in conservation areas may face restrictions on their permitted development rights. The particular policy of a conservation area is determined by the local authority which governs it.  However the aim of most conservation areas is to preserve the character of the conservation area.

Generally, in conservation areas planning permission is required to make changes to the size and shape of a properties roof. This means that the overwhelming majority of attic conversions within a conservation area will require planning permission.

Minimum room sizes:

Although there are no legal obligations surrounding room size, there exists a series of minimum room sizes, below this figure rooms will simply not function correctly. Due to this, the overwhelming majority of local authorities have a list of minimum room sizes which rooms must conform to. However these rules are primarily aimed at social accommodation and are less stringent when it comes to private property.

Furthermore rooms, with the exception of non-habitable rooms, such as kitchens, toilets and bathrooms, must have windows.

Be careful when removing trees:

A number of trees throughout the UK are protected under the Tree Preservation Orders (TPO). It is worth being aware of TPO’s on your premises. Whilst the home extension that you’re planning may not require planning permission, a tree which has a TPO cannot be pruned or altered without planning permission.

Any trees found within a conservation area are protected by legislation and effectively have a TPO.  This is provided that the diameter of the trees trunk is greater than 75mm. Altering a tree which has a TPO without planning permission can result in prosecution and a substantial fine.