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Apart from the obvious lick of paint or new carpet, have you ever wondered what home improvements you can carry out without going through the expensive and timely process of planning permission?
We reckon there’s probably more than you might think! We’ve done the research and we’ve uncovered 23 home renovation projects you can tackle to upgrade your home without going through the painful planning permission process.
So, if you want to add some more projects to a never-ending renovation list, then keep reading…
(Please note, for listed buildings the rules may differ from those listed below, and you should always seek advice from your local building control. Some rules in Scotland or Northern Ireland may also differ. It is your own responsibility to thoroughly research any project and abide by any current laws and legislation.)
Before you get stuck in, below is a simple guide of what does and doesn’t need planning permission from Real Homes:
One of the most obvious projects you can tackle without planning permission is decorative internal renovations, including the addition of a new kitchen or bathroom. Even if you’re switching rooms around and moving the position of rooms (along with plumbing and pipework to go with it), there’s no planning permission needed. You can even move a bathroom from downstairs to upstairs!
The only exception to this is if you live in a listed or conservation building which protects your house in order for it to stay true to its original form. In this case, the rules will vary, so check with your local council about what you can and can't do. Otherwise, you can get stuck in with a sander and paintbrush!
If you feel like taking a sledgehammer to knock down an internal wall and open up some much-needed space, you can! Provided you know what you’re doing, of course.
There’s no planning permission for removing internal walls, however, if you’re removing a load-bearing wall, you should file a building notice to let your council know this work is being carried out, as it will be subjected to certain building regs.
Once the work is complete, the job should be inspected by either your local building control or a private building inspector who will be able to certify the job has been done correctly.
There may be a fee for this, so you should check with your local council first. For more information, check out the Planning Portal page for removing internal walls here.
Fancy upgrading or adding in some new extra windows and doors? Whether you’re looking at replacing with sash windows, aluminium windows, bi-folding doors or even the trendy Crittall glazing, you can install any of these, hassle-free, without planning.
If you use a FENSA approved installer you won’t require any extra certification either as all FENSA installers are able to self-certify their own work for compliance to building regs. It means you will automatically receive a certificate as part of your install. For more information, you can read more about FENSA here.
If you chose to DIY-fit or use a non-approved installer, you may need to apply to building control for them to carry out their own inspections to provide certification. Depending on your local council, there may be a fee for this, so it’s always best to check the cost of this first!
Conservatories can be a cheaper alternative to a full new build extension and a quicker way to add an extra room to your home. They can be installed under the “permitted developments rights” without the need for planning permission.
However, there are several conditions your house and conservatory would need to meet, such as size and height limitations which are dependent on the size of your house and the land around it.
The Planning Portal has a great mini-guide which details these conditions in more depth and in a simple interactive way. There may be other conditions based on your local council too and your conservatory may also be subjected to the “neighbour consultation scheme” which requires you to consult with any adjoining neighbours.
They are, however, usually exempt from building regulations, as long as they’re below 30 square metres, built at ground level, have an independent heating system and are separated from the main house by an external door.
If you own outdoor space at the front of your house, then you can easily add a driveway, no planning permission required. You’ll need to make sure you use a permeable material that allows rainwater to drain through, which is commonly gravel or block paving.
You will also need to obtain permission from your local council if you need to drop a kerb on a pavement and cross a footpath in order for your car to reach the drive.
Some councils may request their own contractors are used for this job, so it’s worth investigating before moving forward with this project, as the cost can vary greatly. More information on driveways and planning permission can be found here.
If you fancy this as a DIY project, then check out this video series from ‘The Carpenter’s Daughter’:
Is your garden lacking a bit of privacy? Adding either fencing or garden walls can be completed without planning permission and the rules are pretty straightforward.
For most fences, they would need to be no higher than 2m, or 1m where it adjoins a road or path. You may need to consult with a neighbour if the boundary is shared, otherwise, that’s it, you can start digging!
You can get totally creative with your fencing and use non-standard fencing materials such as decking boards, scaffold planks or cladding for a quirky modern unique look.
Check out ‘The Restoration Couples’ inspiring cladding fence project below:
For most sheds and outbuildings (summer houses and log cabins included!), planning permission is not required. This is another project which is covered by your “permitted development rights” which allows you to build without planning permission, providing your build meets certain criteria.
For sheds and outbuildings, this means they shouldn’t cover more than 50% of your garden, they should be single-storey and no higher than 4m or 2.5m, depending on the type of roof structure and how close it is to a boundary. There are also conditions based on usage too.
If you’d prefer to invest in a garage over a shed then thankfully this too can complete without planning permission. If the garage is attached to the house, then it must be less than 30 square metres in size, or if detached, less than 15-square metres. It must also be under 4m in height (or 2.5m in height if within 2m of a boundary) and not provide as a living space.
Garages attached to a house may require building regulations, however, those detached are usually exempt unless they are above 30 square metres in size. More information on the conditions required for a garage build can be found here.
Decking is a great way to add a modern and practical outdoor floor, particularly if you’re looking for a project that’s quick, easy and DIY-friendly.
If it’s not raised more than 30cm from the ground level and won’t cover more than 50% of your garden, then this is an incredibly straightforward job that won’t require planning permission. Perfect for the summer!
Want to build your own? Check out this DIY blog guide from Kezzabeth about how she installed decking made from scaffold boards.
Renewable energy is fantastic for cutting bills, reducing your carbon footprint and some may say, is the future for energy in general. Luckily, solar panels don’t require planning permission and can be installed under “permitted developments” alike.
They need to be fitted so they have a minimal impact on the appearance of your property, which means they can’t stick out from the roof more than 20cm and they shouldn’t be fitted above the highest part of the roof. It is, however, important to make sure your roof is structurally sound to support the solar panels. This article from the Green Age explains this in more detail.
For standalone solar panels, only the first installation is free from planning permission and there are similar restrictions for their size and location of installation too.
For more information, check out the planning portal website regarding solar panels and planning permission.
Pro Tip: If you don’t fancy the look of solar panels on your roof, Tesla are now introducing the ‘Solar Roof’ where the tiles themselves are ‘solar tiles’. Not cheap, but they look great, and come in a selection of Slate, Tuscan, Smooth and Textured tiles.
Much like garages and outbuildings, many single-storey extensions are treated in a similar way and can be done under the same “permitted developments”.
The rules for a single storey extension state that the new-build must not extend more than 6m from the rear wall of the original house, or 8m for a detached house. Likewise, it should also not exceed 4m in height.
Side-extensions are also included within these same “permitted development rights”, although should be no more than half the width of the original house, and 4m high.
All materials used for any extensions should be similar to the existing house, so the appearance is continuous. Depending on the size of your planned extension, you may still be subjected to the neighbour consultation scheme, which allows your neighbours to raise any concerns or objections which may impact your plans for the build and require amendment. There will also be several building regulations to comply with.
Surprisingly, some two storey extensions may also be excluded from planning permission. For this, your two-storey extension is required to be no more than 3m deep from the rear wall of the original house and it must also be no higher than the original house too. No balconies may be permitted and the materials used must match the original house.
There are other conditions regarding window openings and their locations, plus, as with single-storey extensions, any plans would be subjected to the neighbour consultation scheme. There will also be a number of other building regulations to adhere to.
More on the conditions around building an extension under the “permitted development rights” can be found here.
Replacing a roof can be a costly affair, so you’ll be pleased to know, no planning consent is required for this job, providing you are not altering the height or plane of the roof.
If you’re carrying out any structural alterations, or your project involves a flat roof (of which you’re altering more than 25%), you may need approval with certain building regulations.
Roofs can often be found to have inhabitants. In this case, you may need to consider any protected species, such as bats, and whether a license is required to carry out work, or specialist removal is required.
Re-roofing work may be subjected to building regulations if you’re re-roofing more than 25% of the area, so inspections may also be required.
Roof lights and roof windows do an amazing job at bringing extra light into a building! For a roofer, this is usually a fairly simple job that simply involves cutting away roof timbers and adding new ones to strengthen the roof to carry the weight.
It’s a job that doesn’t require any planning permission but may need to adhere to certain building regulations, such as thermal performance and fire resistance. The planning portal website has more information about this here.
If you’re lucky enough to have space underneath your house, either in the form of a basement or cellar, this can provide a valuable living space when properly converted. Although there are several obstacles when completing a basement conversion (such as damp proofing and ceiling height), planning permission isn’t one of them, provided it doesn’t alter the external appearance of the house.
You will, however, need to comply with several building regulations, which considers issues such as fire escapes and ventilation. Details of which can be found here.
For many people, having a swimming pool is the dream. Who wouldn’t want to wake up and head straight downstairs for a dip? If building a swimming pool is a possibility for you, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can build either an indoor or outdoor pool without planning permission.
For indoor pools in an outbuilding, they should be a single storey building and will be subjected to the same conditions as sheds and outbuildings in #7.
Outdoor pools should be no more than 50% of the overall garden size and if you live in a conservation area, within the green belt or a national park, then it’s best to get in touch with your local council first, as the rules may differ entirely.
A great way to change the external aesthetics of your house and give it some curb appeal, whilst at the same time adding a bit more storage space, is by adding a porch.
Most porch additions with a floor area no greater than 3m2 and 3m in height can be done without planning permission. You can also avoid building regulations by keeping the existing front door in place too.
We recommend checking out this mini guide from the planning portal for more information.
We’ve already told you how you can build a garage without planning permission, but what about converting one? If you wish to convert a garage, this wouldn’t require planning permission either, providing you’re not extending the existing building.
There may be other building regulations to meet though, such as with new windows, insulation and any electrics.
Houses in certain developments (particularly new builds) may be excluded from conversions altogether, so it’s always a good idea to contact your local authority first and check.
If you fancy giving this project a go DIY-style, then check out ‘The Restoration Couple’s YouTube series of their conversion here:
If you want to add value to your house, a loft conversion could be the perfect solution. Normally you won’t need planning permission for this as long as you’re not altering the roof space and it doesn’t exceed the volume allowed, which is 40 cubic metres for terraced houses and 50 cubic metres for other houses.
Things like balconies and roof extensions are not permitted, so you should seek planning permission if they’re part of your grand plans.
Even without planning though, you will still need to meet a series of building regulations and have the work signed off to ensure it’s been done properly and safely. This mini guide explains everything you need to know.
If you have the cash, consider buying up the neighbouring attached property and turn two houses into one! Not only can you double the size of your house, but usually you can do so without any planning permission needed.
Simply knock a wall down, do some internal alterations and you can combine two homes into one! It’s worth noting that some areas may have restrictions in place (e.g. London), so always check your area first.
Whilst turning two houses into one won’t require planning, turning one house into two homes will require planning permission, so make sure you’re committed to your decision before you go ahead!
If you fancy the cosiness of a log burner, the only restrictions you’ll need to consider is whether or not you live in a smoke control area. There’s no planning permission for the installation of the log burner or multi-fuel stove, you’ll just need to ensure the model you pick complies with local rules for smoke control.
It’s also a good idea to use a HETAS installer as the installation of solid fuel stoves do need to be certified, and a HETAS installer will be able to self-certify their own work. Alternatively, you can DIY install a burner yourself and retrospectively apply for inspections and sign-off.
Whether it’s a warehouse, a barn or something more quirky, planning permission is not always required to convert a non-domestic building into your dream home.
This depends entirely on the nature of the building, its location and its use. Therefore, you will need to notify the council of your intentions and they will let you know if it is doable or not.
As a general guide, according to Homes and Property, non-domestic buildings which are likely to flood, have poor transport connectivity or have already been listed are unlikely to be allowed for conversion. If you find the perfect property though, this could be a real development opportunity!
Not all buildings are salvageable and you often find that the land it sits on is more valuable than the building itself. Whether it’s a garage or part of the house (lean-to, conservatory etc), demolition of a building doesn’t usually require planning permission.
However, it will require “prior-approval” so you need to engage with your local council before bringing out the big guns.Of course, some buildings may be excluded from this, so we recommend seeking advice anyway. For information can be found here.
So that’s our total list of 23 projects you can compete without planning permission! We hope it’s been insightful and has helped you to decide what renovations you can easily carry out without going through the painful planning process.
Please remember, building regulations and laws are constantly changing, so you must always do your own research before tackling any major home improvement project. You do not want to be selling a home with unpermitted work!
Last but not least, the planning portal website is your friend, as it has heaps of advice. Alternatively, get in touch with your local council or building control office for more info.
If you do have to go down the planning permission route, below is a handy step-step guide form Real Homes:
Kezzabeth is a blogger and DIY renovator. She bought her first house at 20, realising the only way she would be able to get onto the property ladder was to buy a fixer-upper and learn how to renovate, DIY-style