Extending your home without planning permission; understanding permitted development rights.


By Peter Wellock of

Every year, thousands of people look to add living space and increase the re-sale value of their homes by renovating them. As part of this process, many apply for planning permission from their local authority. The problem is that there’s no guarantee that you’ll get permission – and the process of applying can turn into a costly and time consuming nightmare. What most homeowners don’t know is that there’s a way to avoid the planning process altogether.

Bypassing planning permission
The vast majority of homeowners – around 95% – can extend their home without planning permission through ‘permitted development rights’ (PDRs).

– Permitted development rights let you add on up to 15% of an existing house in volume, or 70 cubic metres.

SAVVY TIP: The great thing about permitted development rights is that you either have them or you don’t. Planners don’t have a say in your project and your neighbours don’t have the right to object.

– Permitted development rights – common uses: They are often used for extensions and loft conversions although they also apply to outbuildings, porches, off-street parking and even microgeneration technology.

– Permitted development rights are flexible. If you want to build an extension but your rights have been used up by an unwanted outbuilding you can simply demolish it and your permitted development rights can be used once again without fear of the planners.

– Flats and maisonettes etc are not covered by permitted development rights. The permitted development rights which apply to many common projects for houses do not necessarily apply to flats, maisonettes or other buildings. There are also different requirements for conservation areas. You can find information about extending your property in a conservation area on the website.

SAVVY TIP: A specialist company like Betternest can help you understand what permitted development rights are attached to your property before you consider any renovation works.

Permitted development rights and building regulations
Permitted development rights allow you to do things that simply wouldn’t be possible through the full planning process. Once qualified, permitted development rights allow you to take control so your project can be underway faster.

SAVVY TIP: Permitted development rights are a great way to speed up the upfront process, but they’re not a means of cutting corners once the project gets underway Building regulations approval is needed for most building work done in the UK.

– The building regulations are grouped into different categories (covering everything from structure – category A to electrical – category P). The Planning Portal has information about building regulations, which are there to make sure that buildings are safe and use energy and water efficiently.

– Whoever carries out the building work should be responsible for ensuring that the work is compliant with the building regulations. Responsibility ultimately lies with the building owner though, who may be served a notice if work doesn’t comply with the building regulations.

SAVVY TIP: The main function of Building Control is to ensure that the building regulations are complied with. Building work as defined in the building regulations will normally need approval from a Building Control Body. You can find information about the type of building work requiring approval from the government’s Planning Portal website.

Finding out about your home’s history
If you bought your home many years after it was built you may be unsure how to find out if it’s already been extended or changed from its initial design. If permitted development rights have already been used they won’t necessarily be documented with your local council’s planning department.

– To check, have a look at the ownership deeds. These should include the original floorplans. Knowing the history of your home and how it has evolved may help you decide how to change it for the best to make it your own.

– Get expert opinion. Do this if you’re concerned about determining the best route to help you assess the cost versus benefit of different options.

SAVVY TIP: Once you’re ready to transform your home, take time to find the right specialists to get the job done. You can easily get quotes and communicate with reputable UK builders by posting your job for free on

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Understanding tax and your property

Challenging your council tax band

Useful links
The government’s Planning Portal website has detailed information about permitted development rights

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