Work on your home

Work on your home

Contents

It is your responsibility to seek planning permission for any work. You are also expected to find out whether planning permission is required in the first place.

There are many kinds of alterations and additions to houses which don't need planning permission. Below, we discuss most of the types of work you might need or want to do on your house and grounds.

Build new property

The construction of new property nearly always needs an application for planning permission.

The development plan in force in your area will give you some indication of whether your proposal is likely to be acceptable, so it is worth talking to your council before submitting an application.

If there are difficulties, planning officers may be able to suggest ways to make your proposal more acceptable. However, they cannot guarantee that planning permission will be granted.

Work on your house

The general planning principles and the procedures for making planning applications described in this guide apply equally to owners of houses and to freeholders or leaseholders of flats and maisonettes.

However, the rules that say when you need to apply for planning permission will depend on whether you own a house or a flat/maisonette.

An extension or addition to your home will not require an application for planning permission (a permitted development), provided that:

  • The extension or addition won't cover more than half the area of land around the 'original house'.
  • No extension is forward of the front or side of the house fronting a highway.
  • No extension is higher than the highest part of the roof.
  • The depth of any single-storey rear extension must be less than three metres for an attached house and four metres for a detached house.
  • Maximum height of a single-storey rear extension must be less than four metres.
  • Maximum depth of a rear extension of more than one storey must be less than three metres including ground floor.
  • Maximum eaves height of an extension within two metres of the boundary must be less than three metres.
  • Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension must be lower than the existing house.
  • Side extensions should be single storey with maximum height of four metres and a width of no more than half that of the original house.
  • Two-storey extensions should not be closer than seven metres to rear boundary.
  • Roof pitch of extensions higher than one storey should match the existing roof pitch.
  • Materials used should be similar in appearance to the existing house.
  • There should be no verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
  • Upper-floor, side-facing windows should be obscure-glazed; and any opening should be 1.7m above the floor.
  • On designated land there should be no rear extensions of more than one storey.
  • On designated land there should be no cladding of the exterior.
  • On designated land there should be no side extensions.

The term 'original house' means the house as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date). Although you may not have built an extension to the house, a previous owner may have done so.

Designated land includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.

You will need to apply for planning permission if the extension or addition does not conform to any of these restrictions.

Work on the roof

You do not normally need to apply for planning permission to re-roof your house or to insert roof lights or skylights.

The rules allow for roof alterations without the need for planning permission, provided that:

  • Any alteration to project should be no more than 150 millimetres from the existing roof plane.
  • No alteration should be higher than the highest part of the roof.
  • Side facing windows should be obscure-glazed; and any opening should be 1.7m above the floor.

Porches

You will need to apply for planning permission if the porch:

  • Would have a ground area (measured from the outside of the house) of more than 3 square metres.
  • Would be higher than 3 metres above ground level (the height needs to be measured in the same way as for a house extension).
  • Would be less than 2 metres away from the boundary of the house which borders on a highway (which includes all public roads, footpaths, bridleways and byways).

Alterations, outbuildings, walls, fences and patios etc.

Rules governing outbuildings apply to sheds, greenhouses and garages, as well as other ancillary garden buildings such as swimming pools, ponds, sauna cabins, kennels, enclosures (including tennis courts) and many other kinds of structure for which relate to the use of the house.

Outbuildings will be considered to be permitted development, provided that:

  • There should be no outbuilding in front of a house which fronts a highway.
  • Outbuildings and garages should be single storey with a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and maximum overall height of four metres with a dual pitched roof, or three metres for any other roof.
  • Maximum height should be 2.5 metres within two metres of a boundary.
  • There should be no verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
  • More than half the area of land around the 'original house' remains open.
  • In National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites the maximum area to be covered by buildings, enclosures, containers and pools more than 20 metres from house should be limited to 10 square metres.
  • On designated land, buildings, enclosures, containers and pools at the side of properties, will require planning permission.
  • Any outbuilding inside the grounds of a listed building will require planning permission.

The term 'original house' means the house as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date). Although you may not have built an extension to the house, a previous owner may have done so.

Designated land includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.

Fences, garden walls and gates

Whether or not you need to apply for planning permission when building or replacing a fence, garden wall or gate depends on a number of factors including height and position.

You will need to apply for planning permission if you want to erect or add to a fence, wall or gate and:

  • It would be over 1 metre high and next to a highway used by vehicles (or the footpath of such a highway); or over 2 metres high elsewhere
  • Your right to put up or alter fences, walls and gates is removed by a planning condition
  • Your house is a listed building or in the grounds of a listed building
  • The fence, wall or gate, or any other boundary involved, forms a boundary with a neighbouring listed building or its grounds

You will not need to apply for planning permission for a fence, wall or gate, if you don't increase its height. In a conservation area, however, you might need conservation area consent to take down a fence, wall or gate.

You do not need planning permission for hedges as such, though if a planning condition or a covenant restricts planting (for example, on 'open plan' estates, or where a driver's sight line could be blocked) you may need planning permission and/or other consent.

Satellite dishes

See our 'Permission to install Sat/TV/radio aerials' section for more information.

Change of use

In many cases, a change of use of a building or land does not require planning permission. For example, a greengrocer's can be changed to a shoe shop without permission. Planning permission is not required when both the present and proposed use fall within the same 'class' as defined in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 or the Planning (Use Classes) Order (Northern Ireland) 2004.

It is also possible to change use between some classes without making an application. Before you negotiate a lease or buy a property, it may be advisable to consider whether you need to obtain planning permission for your intended use and, if so, your chances of getting it.

Working from home

You do not necessarily need planning permission to work from home. The key test is whether the overall character of the dwelling will change as a result of the business. If the answer to any of the following questions is 'yes', then permission will probably be needed:

  • Will your home no longer be used mainly as a private residence?
  • Will your business result in a marked rise in traffic or people calling?
  • Will your business involve any activities unusual in a residential area?
  • Will your business disturb your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?

Whatever business you carry out from your home, whether it involves using part of it as a bed-sit or for 'bed and breakfast' accommodation, using a room as your personal office, providing a child minding service, using rooms for hairdressing, dressmaking or music teaching, or using buildings in the garden for repairing cars or storing goods connected with a business - the key test is: is it still mainly a home or has it become business premises?

Maintenance

You do not need to apply for planning permission:

  • For repairs or maintenance.
  • For minor improvements, such as painting your house or replacing windows.
  • For internal alterations.
  • For the insertion of windows, skylights or roof lights (but, if you want to create a new bay window, it will be treated as an extension of the house).
  • For the installation of solar panels which, in the council's view, do not project significantly beyond the roof slope.
  • To re-roof your house (but additions to the roof are treated as extensions to the house).

Occasionally, you may need to apply for planning permission for some of these works because your council has made a direction withdrawing permitted development rights.

If you live in a listed building, you will need listed building consent for any significant works whether internal or external. You also may need planning permission to alter, repair or maintain a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure. See the 'Fences, garden walls and gates' heading above.

If you live in a Conservation Area, a National Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or the Broads, you will need to apply for planning permission before cladding the outside of your house with stone, tiles, artificial stone, plastic or timber.

Paving front garden

You will NOT need planning permission if a new driveway uses permeable (or porous) surfacing which allows water to drain through, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally.

If the surface to be covered is more than five square metres planning permission will be needed for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not control rainwater running off onto roads.

Loft conversion

Planning permission is not normally required. However, permission is required where you extend or alter the roof space and it exceeds the specified limits and conditions.

A loft conversion for your home will be considered to be permitted development, subject to the following limits and conditions:

  • A volume allowance of 40 cubic metres for terraced houses.
  • A volume allowance of 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses.
  • No extension beyond the plane of the existing roof slope of the front of a house which fronts the highway.
  • No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
  • Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
  • Side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor.
  • Roof extensions not to be permitted development in designated areas.
  • Roof extensions, apart from hip to gable ones, to be set back, as far as practicable, at least 20cm from the eaves.

Designated areas include national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.

Decking

Putting up decking, or other raised platforms, in your garden is permitted development, provided that:

  • The decking is no more than 30cm above the ground
  • Together with other extensions, outbuildings etc., the decking or platforms cover no more than 50 per cent of the garden area

Garage conversions

Planning permission will not usually be required, providing the work is internal and does not involve enlarging the building.

Sometimes permitted development rights have been removed from some properties with regard to garage conversions and therefore you should contact your local planning authority before proceeding, particularly if you live on a new housing development or in a conservation area.

Where work is proposed to a listed building, listed building consent may be required.

For more information, see our 'Loft and Garage conversions' section.

Demolishing houses

If you decide to demolish a building, even one that has suffered fire or storm damage, it does not automatically follow that you will get planning permission to build a replacement.

Listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas

You do not need to make a planning application to demolish a listed building or to demolish a building in a conservation area. However, you may need listed building or conservation area consent.

Elsewhere

You will not need to apply for planning permission to knock down your house or any of its outbuildings, unless the council has made a direction restricting the demolition or alterations you could normally carry out under permitted development rules.

However, where demolition of any kind of residential property is proposed, the council may wish to agree the details of how you intend to carry out the demolition and how you propose to restore the site afterwards. You will need to apply for a formal decision on whether the council wishes to approve these details before you start demolition. This is what is called a 'prior approval application' and your council will be able to explain what it involves.

Further information

If you are looking for more information, you should visit:

  • In England & Wales, the Planning Portal website. The Planning Portal is the UK government's online planning and building regulations resource.
  • In Northern Ireland, the Planning Service. The Planning Service website is Northern Ireland's online planning resource.