According to research, an extension to your home can increase its market value by up to 23 per cent. Through this blog post, we will explore whether council housing tenants can extend their houses and if yes, how do they proceed with seeking the required approvals from concerned authorities. For a deeper understanding of the process that tenants will have to undertake, we will discuss each aspect in detail such as the roles of Planning Permission and Building Regulations; as well as the essentials of permitted development.

Can I Extend My Council House?

Yes, you can extend your council house as long as you have taken permission from the council authority to proceed with any work on council property. Their permission will mainly depend on the type of council tenancy that an applicant is under. Secure tenants will find it easier to be granted permission for making major changes such as adding an extension to their council house as they are eligible to continue remaining as occupants for a lifetime. However, fixed tenants will not be able to attain permission until they qualify to become secure tenants.

Despite your tenancy status, you will still need to get your design for the extension approved by the council office and planning permission. 

Changes to council property that need permission from council authorities include the following:

  • Building a parking space, garage, hard standing or driveway
  • Electrical work 
  • Flooring (this does not include) 
  • Gas work; such as central heating 
  • Installing a new kitchen or bathroom 
  • Installing a satellite dish or ariel
  • Installing a shed, porch, fence, conservatory, greenhouse, patio, decking, aviary, pigeon loft, fishpond, pool, or similar structure in the garden 
  • Plumbing work 
  • Structural work 

In certain cases, tenants may also need to attain approval from Planning Permission and Building Regulations. 

Council housing tenants must keep in view that home extensions can range from a simple kitchen or bathroom extension to a 30-metre double-storey one. Depending on the size, structure, shape and requirement for groundworks and materials to be used the cost of a home extension can vary from £ 10,000 to £ 50,000. 

Will An Extension Change Council Tax?

If the nature of the extension is a simple kitchen or bathroom extension or a glass structure attached to the main house, it may not have a significant impact on the market value of your property. Hence, there is a strong likelihood that certain home improvements may not change the council band that is assigned to your property. In such cases, there may be no change to council tax bills (on the basis of reassignment of council tax bands) when the property is sold. 

An elaborate extension such as a single or double-storey structure that may have cost you anywhere in the range of £ 40,000 to £ 50,000 will have a significant impact on the market value of your property. This may require revaluation and reassignment to your council tax bands; thus increasing the council tax payments when the property is sold.

Do I Need Planning Permission For Extension?

If you follow the Permitted Development guidelines, you do not need Planning Permission for an extension to your house. However, in case there is major work to be done at the front of the house, next to a road or a boundary, Planning Permission will be required. 

In case of any of the following changes to your property due to the extension, Planning Permission will be required:

  • More than 50 per cent of the land around the main house is going to be covered.
  • The extension is going to be located at the front of the house or on a side with an adjacent highway.
  • The materials to be used in the extension are not the same as the main house.
  • The height of the extension will be higher than the highest point on the roof of the main house.
  • The height of the eaves and ridges will be higher than those of the main house.
  • There is going to be an addition of raised platforms, balconies or verandahs. 

What Is Included In Permitted Development?

The scope of Permitted Development runs across varied projects that may be related to the internal or external structure of a property. Home improvement projects under Permitted Development include the following:

  • building of a small rear extension 
  • construction of a porch 
  • changes of use including loft, garage or basement conversions
  • knocking down of internal walls
  • installation of solar panels 
  • installation of satellite dishes 
  • addtition of rooflights or dormer windows

Do I Need Building Regulations For Extension To Property?

Yes, you will need Building Regulations for extensions to your property to make sure that your property is not only safe and hazard-free but also improves the overall living standard for you and your surroundings. 

You or your builder should contact the Building Regulations department prior to the commencement of any work on your property. A building control inspector may visit your property at various intervals of the construction/remodelling process to assure that all standards and procedures are being met.

Key areas that you will be required to comply with include the following: 

  • fire safety
  • ventilation
  • thermal performance
  • acoustics

What Are Building Regulations?

These are some basic standards for the design and structural changes that are to occur and are essential to be met during the construction, conversion or refurbishment of properties. Building Regulations have been set to assure that the health and safety of the residents will not be compromised in any way as a result of the said modifications to the property. 

These include the following:

  • Structural changes such as house extensions or conversions should not affect a load-bearing wall, beam or chimney breast or which will make access to property difficult. 
  • There should be no electrical safety concerns due to the addition of fuse boxes or plugs, or a change of electrics that causes new electrical wiring.
  • Installation of heating appliances such as a boiler, radiator or fuel-burning appliance should be managed with extreme caution.
  • There should be no concern for fire hazards due to construction work and the escape route (of the added/converted section to the premises) must comply with fire safety standards.
  • Installation of a new bathroom or kitchen should not affect the overall plumbing of the house.
  • New windows, doors or fixed air-conditioning systems should meet the safety and design standards set by Building Regulations.

What Happens If Extension Is Not Signed Off By Building Control?

If you have failed to apply for Building Control permission before erecting an extension to your property, you may apply for it once you realise the error. This is called a Regularisation application to gain retrospective approval. You will be charged a fee along with the formal application through your local council office.

However, if residents proceed with housework including an extension after their application has been rejected by Building Control, they may be asked to pay a fine or redo the construction to its original form or both.

If someone deliberately proceeds with modifications to their property without seeking approval from Building Control or they occupy a new property without a completion certificate, the residents will be considered to be committing an offence by contravening building regulations. In this case, the local authority may take enforcement action and residents may have to appear in a magistrate’s court for a hearing prior to being issued a penalty. 

You need Building Regulations for extensions to your property to make sure that your property is not only safe and hazard-free but also improves the overall living standard for you and your surroundings. 

What Kind Of Changes To Property Affect My Council Tax Bill?

There are certain circumstances due to which properties may be revalued and their bands reassigned by the local council. Below is a list of factors that may cause a change in band:

  • a part of your property is demolished and is not rebuilt
  • the property is altered to subdivide it into self-contained units, (this could be a single unit with an annexe – each unit will be considered under a separate band) 
  • a single property is reconstructed into self-contained flats
  • flats are converted to a single property
  • residents start or stop working from home
  • changes were made to property the property by the previous owner
  • significant changes such as a new road are being made to the local area
  • the council tax band was changed for a property with similar features in the same area

While some of the changes listed above are directly related to renovations and repairs being made to premises and they also might be in control of the resident, some might be involuntary and external changes that do have an impact on council tax bills. 

What Are The Different Types Of Tenancies For Council Housing?

A tenancy agreement serves as a legal agreement bound by terms and conditions that the undersigning parties agree to while a living space is rented out. Tenancy agreements for council housing may be classified as below:

  • Introductory Tenancy: This is considered to be a 12 month trial period for tenants during which their rights to exchange property or make modifications to it are limited. Unless the tenant is evicted or the agreement extended for another 6 months, these will automatically convert to secure or flexible agreements once the trial period is over. 
  • Secure Tenancy: This form of tenancy secures your occupancy in the council house for life; unless you break any tenancy rules stated in the agreement. In this case, you may sub-let rooms in the property but not the entire premises. You may also transfer the tenancy to someone else, exchange the premises or even apply to purchase the property.
  • Flexible Tenancy: This type of tenancy is usually for a fixed term of 2 to 5 years; at the end of which the council may decide to offer you a renewed contract on similar terms, offer a secure tenancy or not renew at any terms at all. You continue to enjoy all the privileges of a secure tenant under such a contract; however, it remains time-bound. 
  • Joint Tenancy: This is a contract that comes into place after a secure or flexible tenancy as a result of the addition of a spouse/partner/joint tenant to your home. Under this contract, you and the joint tenant both become liable for rent payments and become eligible for all the privileges under secure tenancy jointly. 

Conclusion:

This detailed discussion makes it clear that (a) only secure tenants can seek to have an extension to their council house and (b) they need to take permission from their local council office to have an extension built to their council house. Council housing tenants must also make sure that the design plan that they have for the extension covers the basics of permitted development and building regulations.

FAQs: Can I Extend My Council House?

Can you knock down a wall in a council house?

No, you cannot knock down a wall in a council house. If you need to make structural changes to a council house, you must inform your local council authorities who will first assess the need and then make a decision. In some cases, they will also bear the expense if your requirement is justified and the application is approved by them. However, if you proceed without approval, you will be required to not only bear all the expenses on your own but also the cost of rebuilding the wall.

Can you build onto a council house?

You cannot build an extension to a council house without the approval of local council authorities. If you need added space to your council house, you must inform your local council office. They will either arrange a larger space for you by moving you into another council housing facility or grant permission for building an extension.

How often do the council change kitchens?

Most council kitchens are expected to last at least 30 years. However, if a tenant does not find their council house kitchen in an appropriate condition, they should inform the council authorities. They will send a representative to inspect the premises and make an assessment.

What improvements can I make to my council house?

You can make home improvements to your council house without council permission if you are putting up new carpets or wallpaper or curtains. However, in the case of the following, you will need permission from local authorities:

  • Toilet, bath, shower, wash-basin
  • Kitchen sink and work surfaces 
  • Storage cupboards 
  • Heating equipment 
  • Radiator valves
  • Insulation
  • Draught-proofing 
  • Double glazing or other window replacement
  • Rewiring, fixing electrical fittings (including smoke detectors)

Can I swap for a bigger council house?

While you may be able to swap for a bigger council house under mutual exchange; however, if you live in a council house that is in excess of your needs, you will not only be paying a higher rent for a larger space but also for bedroom tax for extra rooms.

References:

Extending a council house ??

Alterations to council properties | LBHF

Carrying out improvements and alterations to your council home

Improvements and alterations

Planning permission: When you do not need it – GOV.UK

Building regulations approval

Planning Permission | Extensions

Services

How Much Does an Extension Cost? Here’s What you can Expect to Pay

How Much Does A House Extension Cost In 2021? Your UK Guide

Repairs and maintenance in your council house

Council housing: Types of tenancy

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