Property purchase - no LBC/planning permission

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RByass101
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Property purchase - no LBC/planning permission

Post by RByass101 » Tue 15th Dec, 2020 2:35 pm

Hi all - we are in the process of buying a property in Scotland which we had an offer accepted on in October, with a date of entry set for the end of January. Our solicitor has undertaken the title search and come back to advise us of a few things. The current owner has owned the property since 2005. In which time he has renovated the inside (moved staircase, moved walls, added bi-fold doors and remodelled kitchen, floored and renovated attic, added velux windows to roof and replaced all the single glazed softwood windows with double glazed hardwood windows) - and that's only the stuff we know about. The home report indicated some of what had been done, but the current owner had said the property was not listed and ticked 'don't know' as to whether it is in a conservation area. Well, turns out it is both (grade C listed) and the current owner claims to have known nothing about it (despite it being clear on the title deeds). For the interior refurbishment he applied for and got planning permission, but did not get a completion certificate at the conclusion of these, and got no planning permission whatsoever for the attic (spacesaver staircase, flowing/insulation and velux). And since he claims not to be aware of the property being listed, all of this has been done without listed building consent.
In the first instance the seller has applied for a building warrant amendment, as the refurbishment he got planning permission for was slightly different to what he ended up doing. This will then need to be moved forward to apply for a certificate of completion. My major worry is that when he goes ahead and seeks retrospective LBC that this could be denied. The refurbishments to the interior are very sympathetic and not overly modern/distasteful, and the windows are wooden, albeit a different style to those replaced. I am worried that someone would turn around and ask that the bi-fold doors are removed and it is returned to a small window and single access door, as this would severely impact on the appeal of the property. The doors cannot be seen by anyone and face out onto the private, enclosed garden, so do not impact on the 'look' of the house, and it is listed as being an 'example of housing of it's time' and not for any particular features.
I would also not want to lose the double glazing, although imagine that we could replace them with slimline double glazing that is more like the previous windows, not have to reinstate single glazing?
Our solicitor has talked through a few things; firstly we can cross our fingers that the seller comes up with the goods and produces a full suite of documents (however I doubt this will be the case). This option could of course cause delays as the seller is seeking a lot of paperwork, our moving date is in just over six weeks and there is Christmas/NY in the midst of all that. Secondly we could hold a retention sum back from the sale price, a sizeable sum that would cover possible rectification of works to required standards, until the seller produces all documentation and gets retrospective consent for everything (or doesn't and we use the money to put things as they need to be). Or title indemnity, but I am less sure about this option from what I have read on here. I also don't want to just be 'covered' in case of enforcement, I actually want things done to code/legally, both for ourselves and for when it would come to selling.
You can view the house here (https://espc.com/property/2-brewery-clo ... sid=157316) and see what I am referring to regarding some of the changes he has made.

Does anyone have any advice/guidance? Our solicitors are being great and very helpful/proactive but I just want to get a better understanding of what position we are in. We love the house and want to make the sale viable if at all possible, but we don't want to go into this blinkered or risking having to change the property into something we don't want.

Thanks!

Rosie

LadyArowana
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Re: Property purchase - no LBC/planning permission

Post by LadyArowana » Sat 19th Dec, 2020 8:01 pm

Just bumping this up, it sounds like a bit of a nightmare to me and I would want the seller to get all the retrospective permissions in place before purchase. They would probably face the same question from any other buyer.

YorkshireCottage
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Joined: Sun 22nd Nov, 2020 4:04 pm

Re: Property purchase - no LBC/planning permission

Post by YorkshireCottage » Mon 21st Dec, 2020 2:53 pm

Having looked at the photos, and on the basis that it now looks like a new-build rather than a listed property, I would ask for all the relevant documents to demonstrate compliance with LBC and building regs. If they can't get it, I would walk away. I know that's not what you want to hear, but taking on a property where you KNOW work has been done without permission is leaving yourself open to a lot of problems. As you now know there are no permissions, I think you would need to gain these or rectify the problem before you sell again - you wouldn't be able to tick the "don't know" box re listing or planning consents. You could be made to reinstate what was there, which could cost thousands (replacing the windows, removing the velux etc). I would also be worried about the risk of fines for work done without consent.
The seller sounds like he knew exactly what he was doing but chose to ignore the rules in the hope that any buyer would fall in love with the end result (as you have done) and be prepared to take the risk or overlook the works done without permissions.
I might consider taking it on with an indemnity policy, but I don't think that would solve your problems when you come to sell later down the line.
Sorry, I know how it is when you fall for a place, but I would be very wary of taking on a listed property where such dramatic work has been done without the necessary consent.
YC

MatthewC
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Re: Property purchase - no LBC/planning permission

Post by MatthewC » Mon 21st Dec, 2020 4:58 pm

I agree with YorkshireCottage. Unless you are getting a sizeable amount off a sensible asking price (but I bet the owner if anything is asking a premium) then I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole.

It looks to me like a classic case of buying an old property and making it into something "new" - entirely modern inside without a shred of character. People don't realise that old buildings are built to a different philosophy and cannot be made into a sealed box. The owner would also appear to deserve a prize for their ignorance/bravado for ignoring rules. One wonders whether that standard extends to things in the renovation that you cannot see?

Matthew

Flyfisher
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Re: Property purchase - no LBC/planning permission

Post by Flyfisher » Mon 21st Dec, 2020 8:43 pm

I have to agree with the previous replies.
I don't know if the listing rules are significantly different in Scotland but this seems to be a prima facie example of a complete abuse of the system, which must surely leave the current owner wide open to prosecution should any enforcement action be taken. My guess is that anyone who buys this property will also 'buy' any future liability arising out of these unauthorised works.

If I really wanted to buy this property then I would want, as a minimum, to discuss the implications with the responsible Conservation Officer (or the Scottish equivalent) in order to confirm precisely which alterations would be given retrospective LBC and which would require re-instatement. I'd then get some building estimates for any corrective works, add 20% to the highest one and knock that off my offer price for the property . . . because that's about the size of the problem that any buyer could be taking on with this property. In addition, I'd be asking my solicitor for confirmation of the exact legal liabilities involved in a purchase of such a property.

OTOH, presumably there has been no enforcement action to date and perhaps there never will be, so in the immortal words of Dirty Harry . . . "do you feel lucky?"

It's not a gamble I would take.

paulc
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Re: Property purchase - no LBC/planning permission

Post by paulc » Tue 22nd Dec, 2020 12:17 am

Looking at the roof, I see it has been clad with clay tiles. Yet all the other properties surrounding it have slate. Begs the question: When was the roof done, and did it have the necessary permissions & paperwork ?

CliffordPope
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Re: Property purchase - no LBC/planning permission

Post by CliffordPope » Tue 22nd Dec, 2020 7:37 am

And of course the authorities have now been alerted to the situation by the property advertisement!

Owain
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Re: Property purchase - no LBC/planning permission

Post by Owain » Wed 23rd Dec, 2020 7:05 pm

"Sold STC within 7 days"

That is optimistic.

YorkshireCottage
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Joined: Sun 22nd Nov, 2020 4:04 pm

Re: Property purchase - no LBC/planning permission

Post by YorkshireCottage » Wed 30th Dec, 2020 4:36 pm

paulc wrote:
Tue 22nd Dec, 2020 12:17 am
Looking at the roof, I see it has been clad with clay tiles. Yet all the other properties surrounding it have slate. Begs the question: When was the roof done, and did it have the necessary permissions & paperwork ?
The listing:
http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/ ... on/LB40336
mentions pantiles, so that may be ok though I guess the Conservation Officer may have wanted a say in the colour. Would be nice to see what the roof was like before it was replaced with shiny orange tiles. There is, however, no mention of a velux, or bifold doors, or new windows etc .....

RByass101
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon 14th Dec, 2020 3:37 pm

Re: Property purchase - no LBC/planning permission

Post by RByass101 » Wed 20th Jan, 2021 2:46 pm

Hi all,
Thanks for your input and advice. It's been a wild ride! We have managed to negotiate back and forth with the seller and retrospective LBC has been applied for and is currently out for the statutory period for public comment. The council have indicated they are okay with the interior changes but not with the windows (as I anticipated). They have also advised that the main part of the property is listed, not the extension with the kitchen/dining, so that's one less thing. We are moving into the property on a rental basis whilst this is completed, and have been advised by Historic Environment Scotland that they will likely unlist the building come the conclusion of all this, we just need to apply to them. It's not a perfect conclusion, but working closely with the council/seller seems to have got us somewhere. It feels like a bit of a risk to move in on a rental basis, but at the end of the day if the purchase becomes unviable then we're chain free buyers for somewhere else, so as much of a hassle as it would be, it's not a disaster.
I've learnt so much over the past month or two about listed buildings, consents, conservation areas etc! Here's hoping we get a resolution with the council, at worst the seller will have to reinstate astragal windows.

Thanks!

MatthewC
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Re: Property purchase - no LBC/planning permission

Post by MatthewC » Thu 21st Jan, 2021 12:55 pm

Well done for having the nerve to stick with it.
RByass101 wrote:
Wed 20th Jan, 2021 2:46 pm
The council have indicated they are okay with the interior changes but not with the windows (as I anticipated). They have also advised that the main part of the property is listed, not the extension with the kitchen/dining, so that's one less thing.
Perhaps it's different in Scotland but I understood that, in England at least, a listing is always for the entire property and everything within its curtilage. Hence my new build 2011 extension (replacing a similar Victorian one that was falling down) and the garden walls are listed just as much as the rest of the property.

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