Conservatories: First Thoughts - Building Regulations and the Party Wall Act
The aim of this article is to give a brief, easy-to-understand overview of what to consider if you're thinking about having a conservatory built in England.
In 2008 the rules around the building of extensions to private homes were relaxed, mainly because planning departments around the country were overwhelmed by the huge increase in the number of people building extensions and conservatories.
This is good news if you're thinking about having a conservatory built. It means that if you keep within the government's quite reasonable limits on your conservatory build it will not need planning permission (see link below).
Even though planning may not be required, however, building regulations must still be considered. These are the rules that the government has set out to protect people from incompetent and dangerous building work.
Building Control is the arm of the law as far as building regulations are concerned. This system of official inspection and approval is administered by the local authority where the conservatory is to be built. Your local authority web site will have information on this, but at Breckenridge we can explain building regulations and give you clear guidelines on how this will impact design costs. If building regulations approval is required we have many years of experience in this area and we'll make the formal application to your local authority. Throughout the construction process we will take responsibility for ensuring your conservatory or orangery fully complies with all the legal requirements and obtain the necessary certificate on completion.
It is essential that any firm you choose to employ to build your conservatory understand and adhere to building regulations. This protects you, the homeowner, in three ways:
i) health and safety of the new building - the materials used and the construction itself will not damage you, your family or your home;
ii) the validity of an insurance claim if there were to be damage to the conservatory - if building regulations were not followed this would complicate and even nullify any insurance claims;
iii) the value and validity of any future sale of the home - if you plan to sell your home at any time in the future you will need to provide certification that any structural changes you have made to your home met building regulations at that time.
Breckenridge Conservatories and Orangeries have the experience and skills necessary to meet all building regulations. However, by following these suggestions in the design of your conservatory this will limit the need for building control:
• conservatory has a floor area of no more than 30 square metres;
• conservatory separated from the main home exterior walls, windows and doors;
• no change to the entrance 'out' into the conservatory.
Party Wall Act
There is also the matter of your neighbours. Even if you do not need planning permission, if your new conservatory affects a wall you share with a neighbour or if the foundations will be dug-out close to your boundary with them then you must adhere to the requirements of the 1996 Party Wall Act. Essentially, this means that you must give your neighbours (at the sides as well as rear of your home) advance, written notice of your planned work.
Again, at Breckenridge we are fully aware of the regulations and will discuss this with you if it is relevant to the location of your build. We also carry out both the excavations and the build itself so there is a consistency in the process from design, to excavation to construction and aftercare.
In cases where you do need to obtain your neighbours' consent, the best thing to do here is to put yourself in their shoes (or foundations). How would you prefer to hear about building work? Over a cup of tea with some rough plans that are open to change, or via a formal letter with plans (ready to be literally) set in stone. As with so many things, common sense is the order of the day, and that old saying comes to mind: treat your neighbour as your self.
Please see our process explained on these pages:
For a summary of limits and conditions for avoiding the need for planning permission in building a conservatory visit the government's planning website: