11 home improvements you can do without planning permission

brown wooden ladder beside painting materials

Are you thinking about home improvement?

In recent months the home improvement became very popular with the homeowners trying their hands on DYI. While many of us started redecorating their homes and doing small jobs around the house, some decided to take on bigger tasks as well.

With the interest rates being all-time low, many people can remortgage their property to raise capital to invest in home improvement projects, like extensions, conservatories, or loft conversions. The works can make the house and create a better living space but also can increase the value of the property afterwards. Please remember that not all home improvements will generate 100% return on investment so it would be good to consult an estate agent to find out the prices in your area.

With any development works, the main question is what is allowed without planning permission? While extensive work to the property will no doubt require planning permission, there are many other improvements you can do that will not need one. There are limitations to these rights, especially if you live in the listed building or conservation area. Please check with your local council if this applies to you first.

Here are 11 things that you can do around your property that will not need planning permission.

  1. Can I remodel the inside of my house without planning permission?

Remodelling the inside of your home is a great way to create more space to fit your needs and can be done within the Permitted Development rights. The work you plan might fall under building regulations if you decide to knock down walls and build panoramic doors to your garden so make sure you get Building Regulation approval for any structural work done. This also includes a certificate for any electrical works.

  1. Can I replace windows without planning permission?

You can replace your existing windows without planning permission as long as you do not live in the listed building or conservation area. Bear in mind that if the window is obscured, you might need to keep it the same way, check the previous planning as it might have been issued due to the overlooking. Generally planning permission is not needed if you also would like to enlarge the windows, although you might need to change the lintel above to maintain the structure above the window. Dropping the sill level shouldn’t be an issue. Remember that the bay windows are classed as extensions and building regulations apply.

  1. Do I need planning permission to convert the garage?

You can convert the existing garage to a new living space without planning permission, but you will have to adhere to the building regulations. Check with your builder or designer on the process but in most cases, you will need the plans to be submitted to the local building control department, which will inspect the build throughout the process. The regulations apply to various aspects of the build including thermal performance, acoustic, fire safety, and ventilation.

  1. Can I build a house extension without planning permission?

You can build an extension within the Permitted Development (PD) but it would fall under several rules. If you will not meet these criteria you will need planning permission. Remember to check with your local council what is allowed as work done without planning permission might be ordered to be taken down.

  1. Can I install roof windows without planning permission?

You can install roof windows in your home but they must not sit forward on the elevation. They also cannot be higher than the highest point of an existing roof. So if you just want to install a Velux at the back of the house to get more light – this can be done cheaply and easily within permitted development.

  1. Can I convert my loft without planning permission?

In most cases, the loft conversion can be done within the permitted development, but the design needs to adhere to specific parameters. If you want to make significant changes, like raising the roof, you will need planning permission. Check with your builder or architect if your plans will require planning permission but remember it will most likely need to adhere to building regulation.

  1. Can I build conservatory without planning permission?

Yes, you can build a conservatory without planning permission but it will need to be a specific size. Firstly it must not be bigger than 50% of the area around the original house, including any sheds and outbuildings. If your house is detached, your conservatory can protrude from the house wall by 4 meters but if the house is attached, it can only be 3m. It also must sit at the rear of the house (not front or side) and not be higher than 4m (or less than 3m if within 2m of property boundary)

  1. Can I build a garden office?

Garden offices, summer houses, or large sheds are all permitted as long as they are not higher than 4m (or 2.5m if it will be close to the neighbouring property), are below 30m2 internal space and do not take more than 50% of the garden area. Most ready-made garden buildings you can purchase would adhere to the rules but ask your supplier before you purchase.

  1. Can I build a porch?

Building a porch in front of your house falls within permitted development, as long as it is not bigger than 3 sq meters, measured by the size of the outside walls. You must also preserve the existing front doors.

  1. Can I install solar panels on the roof?

Solar panels have made headlines recently thanks to the Green Homes Grant, which funds 2/3 of the cost, up to £5,000. The installing of solar panels falls under Permitted Development but do have some caveats. The panels cannot protrude more than 150mm off the profile and must not be higher than the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney). The work does fall under the building regulations so make sure you get the certificate after the work is done.

  1. Can I build a new driveway without planning permission?

It is permissible to build a new or replacement driveway made of porous surface, which would allow the water to drain through. It is also possible to have a non-porous surface but have a drain installed that will direct the water to a lawn or a border.

You need to remember you are not permitted to drop the curb on your own – this needs to be done by your local council. After you apply, the council will arrange an inspection, which you will have to pay for and decide if you can have one installed. They will also tell you how much it will cost you. In some circumstances, you might need planning permission as well, but the council will let you know if you need one. This can be due to the particular road or conservation area.

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