The answer to the question of whether you need planning permission when making changes to your house very much depends on the type of alternations in question.
In general, you do not need planning permission if you wish to make minor changes to your home. This may include interior changes to the building that will have no material effect on the exterior. However, it is advisable to check with your local authority before commencing with any building or modifications to the structure.
When do I need planning permission?
The most common reasons, though not exhaustive, for needing planning permission include:
When seeking to build an extension that is larger than 40 square metres
When seeking to change how the land is used (also known as a “material change of use”), such as converting a garage or shed into a place of business.
What specifically constitutes a “material change of use”?
A material change of use can essentially be described as when changing the purpose of one type of property to another. For example, if you have a large garage attached to the side of your home, and you wish to modify it to serve as a commercial shop, then this would constitute a material change of use and therefore require planning permission.
In the event of a dispute/disagreement about what would constitute a material change of use, this matter would be decided by the courts.
What if I don’t get planning permission if needed and proceed with the building anyway?
In doing so, you will risk receiving a large fine, or in some instances, a prison sentence. Again, it is advised that you check with your local authority prior to any construction if you need planning permission, and they will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Should I contact a solicitor?
While it is not a legal necessity to contact a solicitor prior to proceeding with any alterations to your home/applying for planning permission, seeking the expertise of a qualified solicitor in instances where you may be unsure in relation to these matters can eliminate a lot of confusion and/or hassle when seeking to do so.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.*