Failure to follow the Building Control Regulations can delay your sale
When you decide to sell your property and you put your to-do list together it might look something like this;
1. Speak to an estate agent and get a rough valuation;
2. Check with your mortgage company as to how much is left to repay;
3. Decide whether you’re going to rent or buy post-sale;
4. Find a deep cleaning company to make the property look presentable to prospective buyers;
5. Find a gardener to tidy the outside;
6. Consider what items in the house you might throw away.
One thing that might be far from the forefront of your mind is what to do about all the work you have had done to the property. Surely if the work was done a few years ago and there’s been no problems then that’s the end of the matter? Possibly not if you didn’t follow the Building Control Regulations.
Building Control Regulations
The Building Control Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 are legal requirements which lay down levels of performance for the construction of buildings and installation of some services. The rationale is that they help to protect the health and safety of people in or around buildings by raising standards.
Some works are covered by the Regulations and some works are exempt. Works covered by the Regulations include; replacement of a boiler; installation of a new central heating system; installation of cavity wall or roof space installation; installation of a wood fired burner. On the other hand replacing your whole kitchen or bathroom is exempt. To find out whether the work you have carried out is covered see here.
If you were to do everything by the book (or should we say – by the Regulations) you would give your local council’s Building Control department notice, in advance, that you are going to carry out works covered by the Regulations and submit your plans. Their surveyor could then come out to inspect the work at various stages, depending on what is being done, and at the end they would inspect and give a Completion Certificate. If you do happen to have one you do not need to worry about reading the rest of this article! Just make sure you keep this safe and give it to your solicitor whenever you come to sell your property.
So what if you haven’t got a Completion Certificate, how do you get around this? It depends on when the work was carried out. If it was completed more than ten years ago then you can relax and put the feet up (that time limit is reduced to five years for the installation or conversion of a central heating system). If the unauthorised work was carried out within that time then a solicitor for a prospective purchaser can insist on the production of a Regularisation Certificate. This is a retrospective sign off of the works carried out. It will cost a little more than if you had applied at the outset but it will confirm for the purchaser’s satisfaction that the works have been carried out to an appropriate standard. If the prospective purchaser is buying with the assistance of a mortgage company, the lender is very unlikely to let the sale go through with the production of such a certificate.
Potential for delay
Sometimes these issues don’t arise until a few weeks into the conveyancing process when the parties realise there are unauthorised works which need to be cleared. This means the vendor has to make the relevant application to the local council, the local council has to send out a surveyor and the surveyor has to draft up a certificate. This can cause unnecessary delay and, in some circumstances, cause an impatient buyer to go elsewhere.
The lesson then is when you decide to sell your property, and you’re putting together your to-do list, have a think about all of the work you’ve had done to the property. Is there a valid Completion Certificate? If not, then make your application to your local council as you won’t be able to sell your property without getting retrospective approval.
If you would like advice in relation to any issue regarding the Building Control Regulations, or the sale of a property, please give us a call on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at email@example.com.