IMPROVING your home or garden doesn't need to be stressful – as long as you follow these planning rules.
Here's what you need to know before you get to work.
Hiring a planner can be very expensive – and if you stay on the right side of the rules, you shouldn't need one.
Making home and garden improvements can add thousands of pounds to the value of your home.
And most cosmetic improvements don't need planning permission.
But if you want to add external windows or if there's a planning restriction in your property deeds, you will need the council go-ahead.
If you want to build in your garden, these are some little-known planning permissions you must get first – and what you can do without an application.
Building a shed, a garden home office or a Wendy house won't normally need planning permission.
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But if they're bigger than 15 sq m, slept in or take up more than half your garden, planning permission requirements apply.
Not many people know the rules on boundary fences, but they're simple enough to remember.
For most people, 2m is the magic maximum number to consider for your fence height.
If you live next to a highway, 1m is the limit.
If you're undertaking a big garden project like uprooting a tree or building a concrete building, you might need permission for the engineering work.
Earth-moving work considered 'major' requires planning permission, but smaller projects don't.
Local authorities differ on their definition, so if you have a big project in mind it's worth consulting experts, lawyers – and possibly your neighbours – first.
Use your space wisely
Keeping in mind the rules about adding external windows and doors, you shouldn't need planning permission to convert unused space in your home or garden.
And to keep costs low and reduce the chance of neighbour complaints, don’t make changes to external walls like adding a dormer window.
Adding a room
A single-storey rear extension is the most popular and easiest building work to carry out using your rights.
Permitted development rules mean you can do this easily as long as they're no higher than 4m tall.
All you need is a prior approval certificate, which cost £96 – hundreds less than the alternative.
How to get your plans signed, sealed and delivered
A Lawful Development Certificate is legal confirmation that you have planning permission for your home and garden renovations.
Only more ambitious developments require these – and they will set you back around £1,250, including a £600 application fee.
So keep in mind what it is you're trying to build, remember the basic rules and do your best to avoid the need for pricey planning paperwork.
Andrew Cann, director of Planning Direct, told us: “Obtaining a Lawful Development Certificate will help you avoid a costly demolition process or being unable to sell your house in the future.
“Keep it simple because if you start to complicate the design, construction and building materials your costs will spiral.
“Try hiring self-employed tradespeople to save on VAT costs too.”
If you need financial help to make your home improvement happen, Citizens Advice recommends a number of top tips.
And if you want to get to work straight away, here's information on whether your local garden centre is open over Christmas.
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