19 May 2022

When do you need planning permission for home renovations?

By Renovation Plan

Planning permission has hit the headlines recently, as new plans to give neighbours the right to vote on developments such as house extensions on their street are being set out by the government as an alternative to traditional forms of planning permission. While these plans are still on the horizon, let’s take a look at the current rules around planning permission. What kinds of home renovation works need permission and what do you have to do to get it? Read on for our quick guide.

Different rules for different renovations

When it comes to home improvements, some changes can be made under your permitted development rights, where you don’t have to get approval, and some will need you to submit a planning application to your local authority.

Here we’ve run through what some of the most common home renovations need. Just remember – for every home renovation project you will need to comply with building regulations and take out specialist renovation insurance to protect your home during the works.

Building extensions

Generally you will need planning permission if:

  • Your building extension will cover at least half the area of land surrounding your home
  • You’re planning to increase the overall height of the building
  • You extending to the side of a property across more than half the width of your house
  • You’re using different building materials to the rest of your home
  • You’re extending towards a road or building a balcony
  • Your home is listed or in a conservation area

However some extensions can be built under your permitted development rights provided you follow certain rules, for example:

  • For single storey extensions, rear walls must be extended by no more than 8m for a detached, or 6m for a semi or terraced house, and they must be no higher than 4m in height to the ridge and the eaves, with ridge heights no higher than the existing property
  • For double storey extensions, rear walls must be extended by no more than 3m and they mustn’t be closer than 7m to the rear boundary
  • Building materials must be similar to the existing property.

However, the overall size of the extension, its location with regard to your home and the type of windows you want can all affect whether you can extend under permitted development rights. So if you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to check your plans with your local authority.

External renovations

Making minor changes to the exterior of your property such as adding a skylight or painting the walls is usually allowed under your permitted development rights, unless you live in a listed building or a designated area such as a national park where stricter rules apply. If you want to replace windows and doors, you can do this without planning permission – again, unless you live in a conservation area or listed building, where you’ll have to apply for listed building consent. Your local authority will be able to help with this.

When it comes to outbuildings like garages, sheds, greenhouses or garden offices, these are also generally within your permitted development rights as long as the structure is no more than 4 metres high and takes up less than half of the land around the original property. As always, this varies if you live in a listed building or a conservation area so get in touch with your local planning department to make sure you can make the changes you want.

Internal renovations

As a rule, most internal renovations including loft conversions, bathrooms, kitchens, rewiring or converting a garage don’t need planning permission.

However, there are some rules you should be aware of, for example, if you need to raise the height of a roof for a loft conversion then you’ll need planning permission and – as always – listed buildings may need listed building consent for any interior alterations. But your local authority will be able to help.

How to apply for planning permission

If your home renovation project needs planning permission, you can apply via your local authority. However, to make sure your application has the maximum chance of success, it’s worth doing some preparation before submitting your proposals.

If you’re working with a good quality architect, they can often submit the application on your behalf. Alternatively, you can work with a planning consultant who should be able to tailor your project to suit the local planning policy. They may also suggest an informal meeting with your local planning authority beforehand to help facilitate the formal application.

While you may need to pay a fee for this, it can help determine whether you are likely to get planning permission and allows you to discuss potential problems upfront so you can work around them in your proposal.

It’s also worth keeping your neighbours aware and as on-side as possible to minimise the likelihood of them objecting to your application. With the new ‘street votes’ concept proposed by the government, this could be more important than ever!

Restrictions and limits

It’s worth noting that there are some instances where it can be harder to get planning permission. We’ve touched on how living in a listed building, area of outstanding natural beauty, national park or conservation area can mean planning permission is a more complex process but some properties are also bound by restrictive covenants.

These are legal agreements listed on your property deed that set out how the land your house is built upon is used. They can include restrictions on building extensions, change of property use, landscaping etc and are designed to maintain certain standards in the local area. If your property is bound by a covenant, you will have to try to get it changed before you can apply for planning permission.

Help and support

Planning home renovations can be exciting – but getting planning permission can seem daunting. Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help. If you’re unsure whether your renovation or self-build project needs permission, take a look at the Planning Portal, which offers lots of advice, or talk to your local council to help you get cracking on your project.

Don’t forget – once planning permission is sorted, you should get your renovation insurance in place so your home is covered throughout the building process. Get in touch with our experienced team for a quick quote – and good luck with your project.

Want to find out more about renovation insurance?

You can find further useful information on our renovation insurance page. If you’re not ready to get a quote yet and would prefer to speak to someone, you can find the details by clicking here. We can’t wait to find out all about your project!