Building Regulation approval on Oxford Conveyancing sale - no problem

In May 2010 Fridaysmove Oxford Conveyancing Solicitor Jane Lim conducted the conveyancing work on behalf of the sellers of a freehold house in the southern part of Oxford.

Andrews agents office at 59 Between Towns Road, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 3LR had successfully introduced the buyer at the price of around £270, 000.

Once Jane received the sales details from them she completed the draft contract and sent it by email to the buyer's Conveyancing Solicitors, Withy King of North Bailey House, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford OX1 2EA.

Enquiries with Oxford City Council elicited that plans for improvements at the property had been given building regulation approval in 2004.   The vendors did not have a copy available, and the council was asked to provide confirmation that a completion certificate had been issued for these works.   As the work had been completed within the last ten years, the purchaser's Conveyancing Solicitors wanted to see a copy of the certificate, as confirmation that the works had been inspected and carried out in accordance with building regulations.

Alterations and additions to buildings often require building regulation approval, and the regulations have been extended to cover more and more work over the last few years. Therefore any Conveyancing Solicitor acting for the buyer of a house which has been altered or extended will want to see that all necessary consents have been obtained and that the work has been approved. This is both to ensure that the purchaser will not face the possibility of the council taking enforcement action to remedy works that have been carried out without consent, and to give the buyer some assurance that works have been properly completed.

For works carried out over the last ten years or so, a completion certificate is usually accepted as evidence that everything is in order.

Property owners have in the past frequently carried out interior work without necessary approvals. This has sometimes led to buyers discovering too late that, for instance, an interior load-bearing wall has been removed without inserting proper support for the upper floors of the building.

Anyone proposing to carry out building works to a property should therefore check with the council's building control department, as failure to obtain requisite approval can considerably delay a subsequent sale, and sometimes makes a sale go abortive. It may be possible to ask a council to give retrospective consent, but that would often require an inspection, with attendant delays.

Where works were completed more than 10 years ago and there is no evidence that approval was obtained, buyer's Solicitors will often ask that indemnity insurance is obtained.  

These policies will provide some level of protection to buyers against enforcement action, and as the risk of this is usually remote the premiums are generally quite small. They do not provide protection against any damage which could occur, and while it might be considered unlikely for problems to arise where work has been carried out some time in the past, buyers are advised to obtain a surveyors report where such works are known to have been carried out.

Oxford City council's building control department was able to supply a certificate confirming that the works carried out by a previous owner had been properly approved and inspected, so the buyer's Oxford Conveyancing Solicitors were satisfied that there was no problem and the sale completed without delay.