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Any conveyancers, estate agents, property legal eagles in the house?

bartman100bartman100 Posts: 544
edited February 2017 in The cake stop
...just seen a place which ticks all the boxes. As always, there's a potential fly in the ointment.

The place has a 'garden room' which is fully detached from the main house and adjoins onto a party garden wall. It has clearly been designed as an extra bedroom as has an en-suite bathroom but remains 'unfinished' though to what degree I am unclear. It has mains heating, electricity and water, is plastered and painted to a good standard. It looked in great order but is clearly under-utilised as a general storage area and the agent says it cannot be advertised as a bedroom as it is detached from the main house (it also has a flat roof which is used as a garden terrace). It smelled musty though this could be explained by having been unoccupied for a long time (and thus unheated) but there were no signs of damp.

When I dug a little deeper as to the history, the agent advised that there had been a dispute with the neighbour as the room should never really have been adjoined to their (party) wall. I got the distinct impression that the dispute had caused relations to sour irreparably though to what degree this was fuelling the need for the sale remained unclear.

I came away with the impression that planning permissions had been gained but that some kind of neighbourly dispute had arisen. The fact that it had clearly been designed as a bedroom but had not been used as one and could not be advertised as one was a bit fishy and suggests poor planning of some kind.

This aside, the property was spot on and, even if not used as a formal bedroom, the room would still be massively useful to me,

I guess the only sensible thing to do is bite the bullet and get a belt and braces survey irrespective of the expense and potential loss if things do turn out to be a bit rum.

Any other bits of advice greatly welcomed - there may be discreet (or otherwise) investigations I can make prior to formalising an offer and a survey.

Cheers!

Posts

  • bartman100 wrote:
    ...just seen a place which ticks all the boxes. As always, there's a potential fly in the ointment.

    The place has a 'garden room' which is fully detached from the main house and adjoins onto a party garden wall. It has clearly been designed as an extra bedroom as has an en-suite bathroom but remains 'unfinished' though to what degree I am unclear. It has mains heating, electricity and water, is plastered and painted to a good standard. It looked in great order but is clearly under-utilised as a general storage area and the agent says it cannot be advertised as a bedroom as it is detached from the main house (it also has a flat roof which is used as a garden terrace). It smelled musty though this could be explained by having been unoccupied for a long time (and thus unheated) but there were no signs of damp.

    When I dug a little deeper as to the history, the agent advised that there had been a dispute with the neighbour as the room should never really have been adjoined to their (party) wall. I got the distinct impression that the dispute had caused relations to sour irreparably though to what degree this was fuelling the need for the sale remained unclear.

    I came away with the impression that planning permissions had been gained but that some kind of neighbourly dispute had arisen. The fact that it had clearly been designed as a bedroom but had not been used as one and could not be advertised as one was a bit fishy and suggests poor planning of some kind.

    This aside, the property was spot on and, even if not used as a formal bedroom, the room would still be massively useful to me,

    I guess the only sensible thing to do is bite the bullet and get a belt and braces survey irrespective of the expense and potential loss if things do turn out to be a bit rum.

    Any other bits of advice greatly welcomed - there may be discreet (or otherwise) investigations I can make prior to formalising an offer and a survey.

    Cheers!

    Your local council may have a plannng hub on their website which would list recent applications, appeals and amendments.
  • Just call it a study/summerhouse even if you do put a DAYBED in it . as with loft conversions , to call it an actual BEDROOM , proper structural engineering plans , and steel beams need to be used and building codes of a higher degree than just calling it a Den or Study . As such if a loft conversion lets say hypothetically cost £15,000 to make it a study/loft , if it was done to a standard that it could be called a bedroom , it may cost £25,000 , just as an example .

    I would if you are serious about it , contact the local planning office/council , and investigate for maybe a £60 ish admin fee .

    Cheers :D
    Britannia waives the rules
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 22,320
    You should be able to check if it has planning consent on the local authority's website. Under their Planning section there will be a link to search their application database.

    No planning permission puts you at risk of enforcement action from the local authority (knocking it down at worst) unless you can gain retrospective consent, or show that it fits within your Permitted Development rights (sounds unlikely).

    Also have a look at the PlanningPortal website for more general guidance on what can/can't be built and where.

    There's also the matter of the Party Wall Act, which may be relevant.

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/party-wall- ... 6-guidance.

    Sounds like trouble.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • Britannia waives the rules
  • Really useful stuff and thanks for the replies folks.

    I have already found the original planning application and subsequent complaint application (not as per original designs) freely available on t'internet. It would appear, planning permission was granted originally then neighbours complained on grounds of: not being used as per original application (i.e. it is being used as a bedroom), footprint is larger than original plan, it is not in keeping with the 'conservation area' status and it impinges on neighbours privacy by overlooking.

    Happily, it seems the decision was made to continue approval so long as it was not being used as a bedroom and an additional screen was added.

    Happy to send links to these docs by DM to anyone bored or lonely enough to have nothing better to do. Will happily fund a few beers for any willing masochist (paypal / amazon gift)
  • bartman100 wrote:
    Really useful stuff and thanks for the replies folks.

    I have already found the original planning application and subsequent complaint application (not as per original designs) freely available on t'internet. It would appear, planning permission was granted originally then neighbours complained on grounds of: not being used as per original application (i.e. it is being used as a bedroom), footprint is larger than original plan, it is not in keeping with the 'conservation area' status and it impinges on neighbours privacy by overlooking.

    Happily, it seems the decision was made to continue approval so long as it was not being used as a bedroom and an additional screen was added.

    Happy to send links to these docs by DM to anyone bored or lonely enough to have nothing better to do. Will happily fund a few beers for any willing masochist (paypal / amazon gift)

    You also now know that you are buying a house off a [email protected] Is that likely to be the only corner he has cut? I would be wary.
  • You also now know that you are buying a house off a [email protected] Is that likely to be the only corner he has cut? I would be wary.
    A little judgemental perhaps given the well renowned draconian and pernickity nature of provincial planning offices? Not to mention how censored and aggressively protective some neighbours can be about their little piece of England.
  • mr_goomr_goo Posts: 3,770
    All local authorities have a planning portal with applications dating back a dozen plus years viewable.
    For each planning app you should be able to view all the documents pertaining to the app. It will show you the architect plans and any objections made by neighbours.
    Always be yourself, unless you can be Aaron Rodgers....Then always be Aaron Rodgers.
  • bartman100 wrote:
    You also now know that you are buying a house off a [email protected] Is that likely to be the only corner he has cut? I would be wary.
    A little judgemental perhaps given the well renowned draconian and pernickity nature of provincial planning offices? Not to mention how censored and aggressively protective some neighbours can be about their little piece of England.

    I was thinking of you uncovering faults every time you decorated or lifted a floorboard, the lights that keep tripping, the rattle in the plumbing etc
  • Mr Goo wrote:
    All local authorities have a planning portal with applications dating back a dozen plus years viewable.
    For each planning app you should be able to view all the documents pertaining to the app. It will show you the architect plans and any objections made by neighbours.
    indeed - thank you, now found and am poring over them -see last but one post.
  • bartman100 wrote:
    You also now know that you are buying a house off a [email protected] Is that likely to be the only corner he has cut? I would be wary.
    A little judgemental perhaps given the well renowned draconian and pernickity nature of provincial planning offices? Not to mention how censored and aggressively protective some neighbours can be about their little piece of England.

    I was thinking of you uncovering faults every time you decorated or lifted a floorboard, the lights that keep tripping, the rattle in the plumbing etc
    Fair comment and I agree, I am questioning the judgement of someone who has fitted an en-suite bathroom to an extension that never had permission to be a bedroom.
  • bartman100 wrote:
    bartman100 wrote:
    You also now know that you are buying a house off a [email protected] Is that likely to be the only corner he has cut? I would be wary.
    A little judgemental perhaps given the well renowned draconian and pernickity nature of provincial planning offices? Not to mention how censored and aggressively protective some neighbours can be about their little piece of England.

    I was thinking of you uncovering faults every time you decorated or lifted a floorboard, the lights that keep tripping, the rattle in the plumbing etc
    Fair comment and I agree, I am questioning the judgement of someone who has fitted an en-suite bathroom to an extension that never had permission to be a bedroom.

    I am renovating a house so uncovering stuff as it is ripped out. If we had Bought it to live in we would have had the proverbial money pit.
  • photonic69photonic69 Posts: 1,489
    edited February 2017

    I am renovating a house so uncovering stuff as it is ripped out. If we had Bought it to live in we would have had the proverbial money pit.

    So you are passing these problems onto some other poor unsuspecting sod? Nice.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 22,320
    As well as the planning history, you may be able to dig up some Building Control documentation. If it's only a couple of years old, then there should be at least installation certificates for the electrics and gas boiler if there is one. If none of this is available then I would work on the basis that they aren't up to scratch, may need remedial work, and adjust your offer accordingly
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • slowmartslowmart Posts: 4,182
    Regardless of the legalities of the room there are too many variables to mange and cap off the potential issues.

    You've mentioned a dispute with a adjoining neighbours garden wall? They can put a raised flower bed, fill it with earth and water their plants.

    Regardless of who did what to whom previously the contention remains over the room.

    Your paying for the extra room when in reality it's a liability and not an asset. Which is the hard nosed approach but it's what it reduces down to.

    Given the dubious nature of usage and ongoing limitations of use for the room and the potential arseache mentioned above why would you want to take this on?
    “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring”

    Desmond Tutu
  • PhotoNic69 wrote:

    I am renovating a house so uncovering stuff as it is ripped out. If we had Bought it to live in we would have had the proverbial money pit.

    So you are passing these problems onto some other poor unsuspecting sod? Nice.

    I am not sure if the problem is your inability to read or whether I should have been clearer. So I could clarify or assume you are a judgemental censored and leave you to your inner seething.
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    Go and introduce yourself to your potential new neighbour and ask for his views and what would be acceptable to him, your not the guy he had a dispute with, so its a clean slate - if he a total idiot, move on.

    i had very similar situation when i bought my place, it had a part converted barn, that had been subject to a planning argument, i told the neighbour i had no intention of dev it, he accepted that, 16years later, i use it as a storage area and training room.
  • Slowmart wrote:
    Regardless of the legalities of the room there are too many variables to mange and cap off the potential issues.

    You've mentioned a dispute with a adjoining neighbours garden wall? They can put a raised flower bed, fill it with earth and water their plants.

    Regardless of who did what to whom previously the contention remains over the room.

    Your paying for the extra room when in reality it's a liability and not an asset. Which is the hard nosed approach but it's what it reduces down to.

    Given the dubious nature of usage and ongoing limitations of use for the room and the potential arseache mentioned above why would you want to take this on?
    I hear you. But the house is ideal barring this admittedly fairly large concern. The room would still be of great benefit. Presumably, once my solicitor is satisfied there are no ongoing planning issues then the only other problems might arise if I suddenly start to try and use it as a bedroom again, or if I remove privacy screening that was an original planning requirement? I guess the other concern is having neighbours who are already offside.
  • mamba80 wrote:
    Go and introduce yourself to your potential new neighbour and ask for his views and what would be acceptable to him, your not the guy he had a dispute with, so its a clean slate - if he a total idiot, move on.

    i had very similar situation when i bought my place, it had a part converted barn, that had been subject to a planning argument, i told the neighbour i had no intention of dev it, he accepted that, 16years later, ii use it as a storage area and training room.
    thanks, good advice I think. There's nothing illegal in approaching them as a potential buyer and aiming to preemptively smoothe choppy waters I guess.
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 25,289 Lives Here
    bartman100 wrote:
    mamba80 wrote:
    Go and introduce yourself to your potential new neighbour and ask for his views and what would be acceptable to him, your not the guy he had a dispute with, so its a clean slate - if he a total idiot, move on.
    thanks, good advice I think. There's nothing illegal in approaching them as a potential buyer and aiming to preemptively smoothe choppy waters I guess.
    Can't believe it took that long for someone to suggest talking to the neighbour, that was my first thought. If one of the problems was using it as a bedroom and you are not going to that might help as well.
  • And use it as a perfect excuse to hammer the price down a bit.
    Advocate of disc brakes.
  • dinyulldinyull Posts: 2,979
    bartman100 wrote:
    mamba80 wrote:
    Go and introduce yourself to your potential new neighbour and ask for his views and what would be acceptable to him, your not the guy he had a dispute with, so its a clean slate - if he a total idiot, move on.

    i had very similar situation when i bought my place, it had a part converted barn, that had been subject to a planning argument, i told the neighbour i had no intention of dev it, he accepted that, 16years later, ii use it as a storage area and training room.
    thanks, good advice I think. There's nothing illegal in approaching them as a potential buyer and aiming to preemptively smoothe choppy waters I guess.

    Although, at the same time be aware that it could be the neighbour that is a pain in the ar$e.

    My parents extended their house 10 years ago, everything signed off correctly from the council and yet the neighbours who the extension didn't effect in any way shape or form tried to complain at every stage. They have been c*nts since day one of moving in so it was no real surprise.

    This has nothing to do with your extension or situation etc- just a warning that if your stuck next to neighbours who are pinikity/you don't get on with, expect a rough ride at every potential turn down the road.
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    Dinyull wrote:
    bartman100 wrote:
    mamba80 wrote:
    Go and introduce yourself to your potential new neighbour and ask for his views and what would be acceptable to him, your not the guy he had a dispute with, so its a clean slate - if he a total idiot, move on.

    i had very similar situation when i bought my place, it had a part converted barn, that had been subject to a planning argument, i told the neighbour i had no intention of dev it, he accepted that, 16years later, ii use it as a storage area and training room.
    thanks, good advice I think. There's nothing illegal in approaching them as a potential buyer and aiming to preemptively smoothe choppy waters I guess.

    Although, at the same time be aware that it could be the neighbour that is a pain in the ar$e.

    My parents extended their house 10 years ago, everything signed off correctly from the council and yet the neighbours who the extension didn't effect in any way shape or form tried to complain at every stage. They have been c*nts since day one of moving in so it was no real surprise.

    This has nothing to do with your extension or situation etc- just a warning that if your stuck next to neighbours who are pinikity/you don't get on with, expect a rough ride at every potential turn down the road.

    ...which is why i said if he (neighbour) is an idiot... move on :roll:
  • dinyulldinyull Posts: 2,979
    Wanted to reinforce the point, is that's ok with you?


    It's easy to be swayed by finding the "right" house, especially in the current market. But it can be tiring living next to a pair of old f*cknuts with nothing better to do than obsess over every thing you do in your own house. Just because the outhouse was signed off and person responsible has moved on, doesn't mean the neighbour won't have a stick in his craw about it till the day he's dead.
  • Dinyull wrote:
    Wanted to reinforce the point, is that's ok with you?


    It's easy to be swayed by finding the "right" house, especially in the current market. But it can be tiring living next to a pair of old f*cknuts with nothing better to do than obsess over every thing you do in your own house. Just because the outhouse was signed off and person responsible has moved on, doesn't mean the neighbour won't have a stick in his craw about it till the day he's dead.

    IF the neighbour turns out to be a complete censored then I have a large amp that goes up to 11 and can be turned towards his bedroom wall and a selection of Napalm Death CD's to deploy.

    In all seriousness, this is one of those places that is a bit up itself in general - I'd imagine the civic society would stick their nose in at every opportunity if something was deemed to be not 'in keeping' with the area.

    Anyway, a barrage of useful advice on this thread so thanks and onwards with the investigations.
  • And use it as a perfect excuse to hammer the price down a bit.
    Exactamundo "this is not an 'asset' as you describe but more likely a risk/liability; ergo, give me £20k off the price"
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Yep, talk to your potential neighbours. If they are still seething with resentment it may not be worth the aggravation.

    At the very least you could use it as a means of negotiating the price down. Our survey revealed a catalogue of cowboy building which got us a large chunk off the price, and which we have over the years rectified properly.
  • Mikey23Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    I assume this building is not in breach of any existing covenants? You would be within your rights to regard this as a liability and negotiate accordingly. You would also be able to insist on an indemnity liability insurance policy. Which the seller should pay for as he has caused the potential problem. If there is an issue it is not only between current owners but every subsequent owner in perpetuity. We have had a situation in our recent conveyanceing which was not as extreme as yours and our solicitor insisted on it....

    I think if i was convinced it was the right property and i had good advice then i would go for it...
  • Mikey23 wrote:
    I assume this building is not in breach of any existing covenants? You would be within your rights to regard this as a liability and negotiate accordingly. You would also be able to insist on an indemnity liability insurance policy. Which the seller should pay for as he has caused the potential problem. If there is an issue it is not only between current owners but every subsequent owner in perpetuity. We have had a situation in our recent conveyanceing which was not as extreme as yours and our solicitor insisted on it....

    I think if i was convinced it was the right property and i had good advice then i would go for it...

    Good advice - thank you. This kind of insurance might be worth investigating.

    I've since found out (today) from the District Council have made a Decision Notice Approving the extension with caveat it needs extra screening for the neighbours privacy which has been done. It also means I won't have the risk of having to pull it down. This does not, of course, mean the neighbours cannot and will not pursue a civil case and will have no reason not to do so simply because of a new owner - but it does perhaps give me a chance to go on a charm offensive in the interests of pursuing a peaceable ongoing relationship.
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