Recent “secret building” cases prove that breaching planning regulation has consequences

Recent stories have come to light where secret building works had been found by local planning officers, meaning homeowners should be aware that planning departments will look for potential breaches.

Homeowners looking to extend their property should also make sure they have the correct permissions in place before building begins.

One recent case relates to a planning breach in Leicestershire for building a “secret house” in a garage, where a couple – Reeta Herzallah and Hamdi Almasri – were ordered to pay more than £2,000 each for deliberately trying to hide the “habitable accommodation.”

The BBC reported that Ms. Herzallah said the couple were “hard working” and “law abiding” and that they’d been advised by a builder that the conversion, in Old Church Road, was permitted.

With cases like these becoming more common, homeowners should be aware that there are building regulations products that potentially cover local authority enforcement action for breaches.

Building regulations insurance will typically be used by new purchasers where additions to the property are apparent, but in this case there is no evidence that building regulations consent has been obtained.

Wesley Timothy, LLB (Hons), Senior Underwriter at DUAL Asset Underwriting, a legal indemnity and title insurance specialist, says: “From an insurance point of view, whilst there are insurance products available that cover building regulation breaches, this particular case is a bit of a tricky one.

“We could potentially have covered an innocent purchaser and/or their lender for their respective losses down the line, but not Reeta Herzallah and Hamdi Almasri.”

He continues: “It should also be clear that the onus for arranging planning permission should be with the homeowner, or by a reputable builder, who will clearly evidence the agreed planning permission before any work starts.

“Whilst this may seem like a headache and delay getting started, as we can see from the case above, having the correct planning can save you a lot of potential issues down the track.”

To find out more about DUAL Asset Underwriting visit http://www.dualasset.com/