Lawlink – What can my father do to sell his home if he doesn’t have correct planning permission?

white and red wooden house miniature on brown table

Q: My father built his home in the mid-70s. My family has lived there ever since. My mother passed away a few years ago and my father is now anxious to sell the house and move closer to town. He was always very handy around the house and would have carried out various renovations and extensions over the years. The kitchen is now much bigger than it was initially and there is an extra bedroom upstairs. He is looking at trying to get his paperwork in order and is worried that these various extensions might cause difficulties. What steps should he take? He is under no pressure to move but wants to start the process and keep his options open.

Dear Reader,

An essential part of buying or selling property is ensuring that the property complies in all respects with planning permission. This is usually done by the production of the initial grant of planning permission, with a declaration of a suitably qualified engineer or architect to confirm that the property is in compliance with the permissions as granted.

Given the property was built in the 1970s, your dad or his engineer would have to obtain a copy of the initial planning permission. Your engineer should also try and see whether any subsequent planning permission was granted for any of the further works.

Your engineer would then need to examine the property to ascertain whether any of the further works are classed as being ‘exempted developments’. An exempted development usually allow for smaller renovations or extensions to property without having to obtain planning permission.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

In order to be classed as an exempted development, the total floor area of the extension ‘on the ground’ should not exceed 20 square meters if a detached home. The extension cannot reduce the size of the garden to less than 25 square meters. There are a myriad of other rules, and you should consult your engineer or architect to confirm whether the extensions or alternations could be classed as an exempted development.

Any purely internal alternations would generally be allowable.

If there are works that fall outside what is classed as an exempted development, or if the property was built otherwise than in line with the initial grant of planning permission, you will need to apply for retention planning permission to regularise his planning situation. Again, you should consult with your engineer or architect to discuss the same.

It is still possible to sell the property without the benefit of planning permission. However, banks would be unlikely to lend monies to a potential purchaser in such a situation, and you would be limited to cash buyers only.

Should you or your dad be in any way unsure, please do contact your solicitor.