Homeowners are tending to stay put for longer and longer, preferring to do work to their current home rather than face the costs and hassle of moving.
According to recent figures released by Nationwide Building Society, the rate of buying and selling among existing homeowners has dropped, and those aged 55-64 have typically been in their current property for 17 years.
It’s great to love your home and feel happy there year after year, but it’s also true that over the years our lives change, along with what we need from our homes. When your situation changes, you want your home to change with you, and that can mean taking on a large project.
Many people are put off by the idea of obtaining planning permission, a potentially drawn-out and costly process which means the local authority has to approve your plans before you can go ahead.
However, plenty of home improvement projects - even some large ones like extensions - can be carried out without the need for planning permission, under what is known as permitted development. The government recently relaxed the rules on the size of extensions that can be built under permitted development, and there are plenty of other jobs that you can go ahead with. Though the rules are stricter if your home is listed, in a conservation area, or has already had major work done to it (even by a previous owners), the following are all generally allowed under permitted development:
Adding a porch
As long as your new porch is under 3m high, less than 3m squared in area and is further than 2m away from the edge of your property boundary alongside a road, then it’s covered by permitted development - which means you could soon be covered from the elements while you’re fumbling for your keys.
Adding a shed, garden room or summer house
You’re free to add these useful spaces to your property, as long they meet a few requirements. For example, they cannot be used as bedrooms, and can only be a single storey, with the maximum eaves height of 2.5m. The overall height is also limited, depending on the roof style and where on your property it sits.
Adding a conservatory
If you’re adding a conservatory, you will not need planning permission as long as it is under a certain size, which depends on your property and where it is placed. If your home is detached, it can be no more than 4m in depth at the rear of your property, while 3m is the limit for semi-detached and terraced homes. The maximum height allowed is 4m, unless it would reach within 2m of any property boundaries, in which case it is limited to 3m.
Adding an extension
Just like with conservatories, as long as the size requirements are met, single-storey rear extensions can be added to your home without the need for planning permission. Single-storey side extensions must be no wider than half the width of the original building.
Even two-storey extensions can fall under permitted development, as long as they are at the rear of your home. They must be less than 3m in depth, and further than 7m from rear boundary of your property.
Adding fences and walls
As long as walls, fences and gates are less than 1m high when facing a road, or less than 2m high around any other part of your property, they can usually be added under permitted development.
Converting your garage
You can typically convert an attached garage into living space without the need for planning permission, though you will need to apply for a change of use under Building Regulations to make sure it meets certain standards, such as being appropriately insulated.
Converting your loft
As with extensions, permitted development for loft conversions is limited by the scale of the project, but for spaces of less than 40m cubed, permitted development usually applies. Adding dormer windows, which project out from the roofline and provide more headspace, are also covered, as long as they do not extend beyond highest or front-most part of the existing roof.
Knocking through walls and changing the internal layout of your home can usually be done without the need for planning permission, though you will need the work to meet Building Regulations approval.
There are plenty of other home improvement projects that don’t have to go through planning permission before you can get started on them - adding garden decking, new doors and windows, cladding, solar panels, basements and even swimming pools can all be covered by permitted development.
For more information, and guidance on specific planning matters, visit the Planning Portal.