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3rd March 2020

Buying a house without building regulations approval

What to look for when buying a house without building regulations approval


If you are actively searching for a house to buy in the UK, you should be aware of the building regulations approval. The government has set a statutory prerequisite to guarantee that structures are planned and built as per the Building Regulations and Associated Legislation. Although you can buy a house and ignore the Legislation and endorsement from this authority is prevalently important to guarantee the well-being and security of those living in the property. These are basic guidelines that preserve the structure’s integrity. Fire security, safe energy, and maintainability are a few examples. In this manner, they are not just significant for everyday structure matters; however, they have long haul ecological advantages.

Building regulations approval

What is the role of building regulations?

To better understand why buildings need to be standardised through regulations, we need to look at different areas that are prone to risks. Essentially, these building regulations are enforced to address a number of issues that affect buildings which including:

 Building new houses

 Ventilation and hygiene

 Sound proofing

 Electrical, Structural and fire safety

 Drainage and disposal of waste

 Preservation from falling, collision and impact

 Conservation of energy.

If you are interested in a house that has been adjusted in the areas above or has been altered in any other way, you should confirm whether the house has met the required standard regulations before you but it.

These guidelines are purposefully designed to safeguard people who live in the building as well as those are around the building at any time.

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Routes to building regulations approval

Since October 1985, there have been two ways to acquire building regulations approval for any building.

  1. Using the local authority.
  2. Using a private organization, approved by the Secretary of State to oversee houses and issue approvals. These companies are usually known as “Approved Inspectors”.

There are different papers issued for both of these approval methods.

The important documents are the ones that will be issued to government. They prove that the altered buildings have been approved, inspected and given the go ahead. If the council does the approval it is called “Building Regulations Certificate of Completion” and if an Inspector approves then the document is called “Building Regulations Final Certificate”.

Reasons why home owners may modify a house without a regulation approval

 Ignorance

Many people are unaware that when you have houses should be renovated or altered according to the standards set by the Building Regulations and Associated Legislation. This ignorance may cost them a lot of money in the long run. They also find themselves in dangerous situations especially when dealing with electrical wiring of the house.

 Passive Resistance

Some people know that they should get an approval but have avoided getting one because they have doubts that they will get the permission. These people are quite aware of all the necessary steps to take to ensure they get a regulation certificate but they turn a blind eye and refuse to comply to the standards.

What if you want to make your own enhancements to a house?

Let’s say you find a house in a good location and neighbourhood but you want to make some small adjustments to the house. All changes to the house should not be done without the knowledge from the Building Regulations Legislators. You are required to get permissions from the regulators so as to acquire a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate. The building inspector is the one that issues out certificates. The inspector is authorised to oversee the enhancements and make sure that meet the right standards. In this regard, you will require the services of a professional conveyance who will take copies of all documents pertaining to the house; regulations certificates and planning permissions.

What renovations require regulation approvals and which do not?

Some people think that making minor adjustments to their house doesn’t require a regulations approval. Well they are not entirely wrong because the regulations focus more renovations of the parts of the house that may cause danger to the inhabitants of the house. In simple terms, not all house buildings need the attention of the regulations legislators. Here is a list of examples that you could use to determine whether you need one:

 New bathroom installation

 Addition of extra radiators.

 The erection or extension of a structure

 Changing fuse boxes and connected electrics

 Replacing electrical lights and sockets near a bath or shower

 Changing windows and doors

 Installation of cavity wall insulation

Luckily there are some adjustments that don’t really require building regulations approval, they are:

Ordinary regular repairs and maintenance that don’t include electrical fuse boxes, glazing house units and oil tanks.

Replacing and installing a new water sink, toilet bowl or a bath that have the similar dimensions and properly fit as the previous ones.

Putting up light bulbs and power switches unless they are close to the bathroom.

What ensues after you buy a house without a regulation approval?

If you decide to ignore the proper building regulations permissions when buying a house, you will sooner or later face the local enforcement action later on. Avoiding these house guidelines can cost you a lot in the long run. You could potentially pay for repeating the renovations or you could be forced to convert the house back to its initial state. Another consequence is that the house value will eventually decline. So the day you intend to put the house for sale, it will become difficult to sell it.

You should be aware that it is the duty of the conveyance solicitor to report the lack of building regulations approval to anyone taking the property on mortgage. This is likely to lead you missing to sell or rent the house.

How to go about purchasing a house without building regulations approval?


Now that you have a simple understanding of building regulations and its role in protecting people. Are you still interested of buying a house that has not been inspected and given a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate? If your answer is ‘Yes’, then you should probably decide on one of the two possible options. .

  1. A consent of the Retrospective Building Regulation from the local authority

A retrospective consent is a document that is applied for by the seller of a property. The process of acquiring it is through a regulations inspector. The inspector will visit the house to be sold to purposely carry out an extensive assessment. The house property has to meet the mandatory regulations and when it does, a Regulations compliance certificate is then issued.

Although the retrospective concept is a good option they are some possible issues that may create a less suitable outcome.

  • Inspectors may sometimes decide to not give a full approval after a check. This is mostly due to the fact that a thorough check may not have been carried out. If you don’t have a full approval it means that the inspector will only confirm with the Building Control Department that no action will be taken against you as of yet.
  • Sometimes you may feel like you don’t trust the inspections process. So, you may develop uncertainty that the house is fully secure from the adjustments.
  • Some sellers are very cunning and will not apply for a retrospective consent because this could lead to the local authority finding out that there exist no regulations approvals. They mainly do this to so as to not spend extra money trying to rectify the house to meet the standards.
  • Once the inspector notifies the local authority about the unmet standards of the building regulations then the seller may be denied to an Indemnity Insurance Policy which is really essential in the buying and selling of property.


  1. Building regulation indemnity insurance


This type of insurance is really important when you want to buy a house without the regulations approval from the local authority. This policy is commonly requested by a conveyance solicitor who would inquire the seller to acquire an indemnity policy for you. Getting Indemnity insurance is an intelligent decision. If the local authority decides to take legal action on you, this policy protects you by covering your costs and losses that you will incur. Although this policy is inexpensive, some people argue that it would be much more rational if the seller paid for the Indemnity policy. The imaginable issues with indemnity insurance are:

  • Even though the insurance policy does help you in the long run, there are other safety issues that may prevail if a proper survey of the house building is not conducted.
  • You can’t completely escape losses entirely, since the Indemnity Insurance Policy only covers the losses from action against you by the local authorities. The other losses that you have to deal with are those from broken and defective house parts.
  • It is important to understand that the Insurance will be void if the previous owner of the house did not get approval. It is the work of the conveyance solicitor to acquire and divulge this information to you.
  • All enhancements and minor renovations made to the house are only valid to be insured if they have lasted for a period exceeding 1 year.
  • Another reason that will make the insurance policy to be null and void if you get exposed to the local authority that you do not have a regulation compliance certificate.
Factors to consider when buying a house without building regulations

The decision is a crucial one and you need to critically think about the things you need to do before finally purchasing a house without approval from the authorities. You will have to:

  • Confer the issue with a conveyance solicitor; they can do a lot for you like assess you documents and offer sound advice with possible solutions.
  • Completely absorb all information and advice that is given by your solicitor and ask thorough questions.
  • Inquire about the condition of the house; find out all you can about the previous owner and all possible adjustment that may have been done to the house.
  • Weigh your options to come to a decisive way forward
  • Estimate how much risk is involving in each available option.


Although the idea of buying a house seems exciting at first, there is a lot of work to do before you can finally decide whether to buy a house that has met all regulations or simply buy a house and make all adjustment without caring about the authorities. Risk is the major factor when you consider to buy a house with no approvals but there is always a thrill that comes with any of risk all you have to do is find the risk that you can handle before you take it as in future it may be expensive to deal with the authorities.

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