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Br-extension? Alert on home improvements post referendum

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Home owners who have abandoned plans to sell their homes due to concerns about falling house prices are being urged to think wisely before embarking on extension or refurbishment plans.

Peter Simner, one of the region’s leading conveyancing lawyers, has issued the timely warning as a growing number of home owners signal plans to extend or improve their homes, rather than move, as the housing market has cooled since the EU Referendum.

Mr Simner, a partner at regional law firm mfg Solicitors, has warned people tempted to invest in their homes that they must ‘tick all the boxes’ with correct permissions and complying with planning rules, rather than risk a shock when they come to sell.

He said: “Statistics show that June’s Brexit vote has knocked around £3,600 off house prices for now, which means people are being tempted by extensions and loft conversions.

“That can certainly be a good idea while the country adjusts to the implications of leaving the European Union, but a ‘br-extension’ comes with its own risks and pitfalls and is not to be entered into lightly.”

Mr Simner, who has advised homeowners across the West Midlands for over 30 years, warned anyone considering work to make sure it complies with local authority Planning and Building Regulations.

Everything from conservatories to new porches can fall foul of the rules if they fall outside permitted development parameters, while replacement windows and boilers, log burners and certain electrical installation work all require the right documentation.

“Problems with missing or incorrect documentation do not manifest themselves until it comes to selling a property, which is when the buyers’ solicitors start asking questions and requiring proof of permission, all of which can significantly delay transactions”, Mr Simner said.

“Worse, if the local authority takes enforcement action, it can all result in thousands of pounds spent to either get the consent or undo the work. My advice, as we see more people considering extensions in the current market, is that home owners need to tick every box and stick closely to all development rules to avoid any long term issues with their property. It is surprising how many in the county are missing vital details.”

A recent survey by estate agents Haart found a fall in registrations for house sales both in areas where Leave won the EU vote and in areas that backed Remain. Typically registrations were down 23% in Leave areas and 30% in Remain areas.