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Over the last year many home owners have been using the time and money that would otherwise have been spent on holidays and even commuting on home improvement projects. Although for many their projects may be limited to updating a room with a lick of paint, what are the legal issues to look out for if you are considering a home extension?

Funding – Depending on your project, the design, construction and furnishing of an extension may be costly. You will need to give thought well in advance to how much your extension is going to cost and how the funds are going to be obtained. How much is realistically required and how will it be repaid? Will you need all of the money in one go or in stage payments? Will you need to re-mortgage your property or raise the money through a bank or other loan?

Land ownership – It may sound basic, but you need to check that you own the land on which you plan to build and that your proposed extension will not encroach on to anyone else’s land or obstruct any rights of way .You and your solicitor should check the title documents for your property. Although the Land Registry plans are not definitive, older conveyances and transfers may show the boundaries of your property and any rights affecting the land. You will also need to check that the extension would not breach any covenants affecting the property.

Consents – You also need to check your title documents to establish whether consent is needed from any third party. If your property is leasehold then you are likely to need consent from the freehold owner. It may also be that consent is required from a previous owner.

Planning permission – Not all development requires planning permission, but you need to check whether your proposed extension will require planning permission before work commences. There is general advice available on the Government’s Planning Portal but you ought to check with your local Council and take specialist advice. Special considerations apply if your property is listed or is situated in a Conservation Area.

Building Regulations – The erection or extension of a building will require building regulations consent, again from the local Council.

Contracts – An extension is a major undertaking. You need to ensure that you have comprehensive contracts in place with your architect, designer and builder to govern the work that they will be doing, the standards expected, when they will be paid and what happens should anything go wrong. A dispute resolution provision that is agreed before work starts could save heartache and costs later down the line. Warranties to give protection in the event of future problems with the work should also be obtained.

Party Wall Act notices – If your proposed extension is on or near to a party wall or structure then you may need to serve notice of your proposed work on your neighbour and give them the opportunity to respond. The provisions are complicated and you need to allow plenty of time for the process.

If you need help with any of the legal aspects then Ramsdens has solicitors to assist at every stage. Contact our civil dispute specialists today by calling 01484 821 500, or fill out our online enquiry form and we will be in touch at a time that is suitable for you.