A structural engineer inspects unauthorised building works to issue a letter of regularisation. Get a Letter of regularisation for unauthorised building works, with SAM Conveyancing.
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Letter of regularisation for unauthorised building works

(Last Updated: 28/10/2022)
5 min read
Buying a property that has been built without planning permission and/or building control sign off could mean you may not be able to continue with your purchase without a letter of regularisation or indemnity insurance. 

For the seller the lack of official paperwork from the local council could be an inadvertent oversight, however the challenge the buyer faces is the lack of knowledge about the standard of the building work undertaken, whether they are safe and to current building control standards.

If you aren't sure what types of building work require council sign off, read - Building Control Sign Off Explained.

What can you do if you are buying a property with no building control sign off?

Whether it be a single storey rear extension or a loft conversion, there are a number of issues that could lay hidden underneath the walls and floors. What normally happens during building works are regular sign-offs for the building work undertaken including the electrics, insulation, windows and room sizes.

The challenge is that checking these building works after the work has been completed will require an intrusive inspection; in some cases in can be as bad as to pull the whole thing down and start again.

The options available to a buyer are:

1. Letter of regularisation; or

The most common solution is to obtain indemnity insurance to protect against the removal of the unauthorised works and this normally satisfies the mortgage lender. However, this doesn't address whether the unauthorised works are safe, will cause you costly repair works in the future or affect your future resale value.

The best advice is to get the unauthorised works signed off by Building Control before you take legal ownership of the property (and take on the burden of addressing the unauthorised work in the future) - although getting a letter of regularisation can take a number of weeks - read more about this below.


Letter of regularisation

Until recently, Building Regulations made no provision for the approval of unauthorised work and this created problems for buyers during the conveyancing process when they found that such work was identified. 

Building Regulations have overcome this issue by the introduction of the Regularisation procedure, whereby unauthorised work can be certified by Building Control, bringing it in line with the relevant Regulatory requirements.

Where unauthorised work has been carried out by the seller, with no notice given nor plans submitted, an application can be made to Building Control for a Regularisation Certificate (letter of regularisation).

Regularisation applications can be made for both domestic and non-domestic works commenced on or after 11th November 1985. Building work that has been completed prior to this date is not covered by the Regularisation procedure.

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Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
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Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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