Courtyard House  -  East Dulwich:  Terrace by Designcubed

Improving a home without planning permission

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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Planning on extending or remodelling your home to give it a fantastic new look? Before you start sorting through new fence options or dreaming up new colour combinations, are you sure you are allowed to change your home’s look without formal permission? 

Certain types of home improvement projects (like re-wallpapering your dining room, for example) don’t require planning permission, as they qualify under something called Permitted Development rights (PD). However, in recent years, the government has extended what is acceptable under PD in a bid to speed up the planning process. 

And the last thing you want is to jump-start a dreamy renovation project just to hear that you didn’t follow the correct procedures, right?

So, to save you time and money (and embarrassment), let’s look at 17 ways to beautify your home without obtaining planning permission.

1. Add a single-storey extension

North London House Extension: modern Living room by Caseyfierro Architects
Caseyfierro Architects

North London House Extension

Caseyfierro Architects

Bear in mind that certain criteria are attached to this one, such as using materials similar to the existing structure, etc.

Allow our extensive list of professionals (including interior designers, architects, gardeners, lighting experts, etc.) to help you conjure up the house of your dreams.

2. Interior remodelling

modern Dining room by Larina Kase Interior Design
Larina Kase Interior Design

Modern Farmhouse Dining Room

Larina Kase Interior Design

As long as you’re not extending the overall footprint of your home, PD allows you to continue with interior remodelling without obtaining planning permission.

3. Integral garage

Providing you are not increasing the overall footprint of your home, you may proceed with incorporating an integral garage into your home.

4. Double-glazing

modern Living room by ZeroEnergy Design
ZeroEnergy Design

Open concept living area with grand piano

ZeroEnergy Design

Double-glazing can be installed under PD rights, as long as your property isn’t listed. If you’re planning to add new or bigger windows or doors, you’ll need to follow Building Regulations.

5. ​Rooflights

Skylight above dining space: modern Dining room by Neil Dusheiko Architects
Neil Dusheiko Architects

Skylight above dining space

Neil Dusheiko Architects

Rooflights can be added to your home under PD as long as they don’t project more than 15 cm from the roof slope.

6. ​Loft conversions

Loft conversions are a great way to create extra space; just be sure yours is less than 40 m³ to not require planning permission.

7. A two-storey extension

House extension:  Household by DK Architects
DK Architects

House extension

DK Architects

A two-storey extension can only be added to your house under PD rights if it is at the rear. Bear in mind that it must not exceed 3 m in depth or be within 7 m of the rear boundary.

8. Garden outbuilding

You may add an outbuilding in your garden, but avoid building in front of your property, as this generally requires planning permission.

Bear in mind that your plans will also need to meet certain criteria, such as no verandas, balconies or raised platforms; and that the room can’t exceed 30 m² or occupy more than 50% of your garden.

9. A porch

You may add a porch without obtaining permission, provided that it is not taller than 3 m, within 2 m of a boundary next to a highway, or over 3 m².

10. ​Combining two houses

Combining two houses into one is fine; however, splitting an existing property into two requires full planning permission.

11. Changing gates

Feel free to change gates, fences and walls, providing they’re not taller than 1 m, are situated next to a highway or within 2 m for any other boundary. 

For listed buildings, you’ll need to apply for planning permission.

12. An outdoor pool

Poole, England. Outdoor project. : modern Pool by Compass Pools
Compass Pools

Poole, England. Outdoor project.

Compass Pools

Under PD rights, you can build an outdoor pool as long as the area it covers does not exceed 50% of your garden.

13. Thinking about cladding your façade?

Exterior Cladding Project: modern Houses by Building With Frames
Building With Frames

Exterior Cladding Project

Building With Frames

Go ahead, as long as your home isn’t within a Conservation Area or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

14. Decked garden area

Courtyard House  -  East Dulwich:  Terrace by Designcubed
Designcubed

Courtyard House — East Dulwich

Designcubed

PD rights cover putting up a decked area in your garden, providing it’s no more than 30 cm above the ground. Also keep in mind that the decking, plus any extensions or outbuildings, cannot cover more than 50% of your garden.

15. Solar panels

modern Houses by ZeroEnergy Design
ZeroEnergy Design

Green Roof & Solar Panels

ZeroEnergy Design

Solar panels can be added to your home under PD, providing they don’t protrude more than 20 cm above the surface they’re attached to.

Also remember that the highest part of the panel may not exceed the highest part of the roof, excluding the chimney.

16. Add a driveway

Riggsacre, Corbridge: modern Houses by MWE Architects
MWE Architects

Riggsacre, Corbridge

MWE Architects

For parking, you may add in a driveway under PD rights, providing any surface over 5 m² is made of porous material, or that run-off water from the surface will be directed into a permeable area within the property boundary, not onto the highway.

17. Converting your basement

When it comes to basements, PD covers converting an existing basement into living space, as long as there will be no change to your house’s exterior and it’s not being used as a separate dwelling.

It’s always better to be extra careful; thus, before you treat your house to a delightful new look, be sure to check with your local planning authority to ensure you do not require planning permission, as, in some cases, PD rights may have been altered.  

For more home improvement inspiration, check out these: 18 house improving extensions (you can actually afford).

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Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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