As we begin to see in the first days of spring moving in, many of us are looking to install windows and doors, and ready ourselves for six months of letting in the fresh air and sunshine. But something that can often spoil that idyllic view is the thought of how planning laws can impact our plans and how to begin the process of installing new windows and doors. But fear not: - We caught up with Chris Salmon, Director of Quittance Legal Services to explain more.
‘Although many smaller projects don’t require any kind of official sign-off, some often do – particularly works involving the positioning of external doors and windows. Some of these larger projects, including changing or moving doors and windows, may need both planning approval and building regulations sign-off.’
How do I check if I need approval?
‘Whether you need approval, and what kinds of approval you need, will vary depending on several factors. Including the scale of the work, where in the property the work will be done, and whether there are any local restrictions.’ Chris explains, as he talks us through the types of approval that may be required with your new windows and doors.
‘By law, certain changes to a property require planning permission from your local planning authority (LPA).’ Chris explains.
Such as adding a new window, particularly to the side or anywhere it could overlook neighbouring properties. At Westbury Windows and Joinery, using our years of experience, we can apply for planning permission on your behalf and can work with an independent planning consultant if required. However, planning permission is not always necessary for simply replacing windows under permitted development.
Can I replace my windows under permitted development?
Chris advises that ‘many smaller changes can be made to a property without any kind of official approval. Even some larger projects such as single-storey extensions can be carried out under permitted development, or “PD”. PD usually grants automatic permission to carry out works including:
- Installing new doors and windows
- Moving doors or windows
- Building a small extension/orangery
- Building or demolishing a small outbuilding
- A loft or garage conversion
Permitted development rights are subject to change, and the Government recently expanded the scope of what is allowed under PD. However, even if your plans are covered by PD, you may still need approval under building regulations.
Some parts of the country are ‘designated areas’ where PD rights are more restricted. Designated areas include conservation areas, national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), such as parts of the Chiltern Hills, the Cotswolds, the Pennines and many coastal areas.’
New windows and doors in Conservation areas
‘The restrictions on individual conservation areas vary, depending on the heritage, look and feel of the local area. Some areas restrict the design of new windows and doors or prohibit roof lanterns or solar panels, and some restrictions even mandate that specific building materials be used.
Generally, conservation area restrictions only apply to external parts of the property, including windows, doors and the roof.’
Westbury Windows and Joinery are well versed in working within these restrictions, having experienced many different requirements over 25 years of designing and supplying new windows and doors. Offering our expert advice as part of the service and taking the stress out of your planned home improvements so that you’re able to focus on the bigger picture.
‘Building regulations change more frequently than planning permission rules, and are generally more detailed and comprehensive. Even if your project does not need planning permission, it will need to comply with any relevant building regulations.
You will need to get building regulations approval from a building control. If you are carrying out major works, you may need several inspections as stages of the work complete.
Fortunately, you don’t need to get approval if the work itself is carried out by a FENSA-approved person.’
What is FENSA?
‘FENSA is a government-authorised scheme that holds a register of certified businesses and tradespersons who carry out window and door installation. If you need a tradesperson to change, repair or install windows or doors, you should check that they are FENSA-approved.’ Chris continues.
Installing or changing doors and windows
‘Often the easiest and most cost-effective route is to contact a local, FENSA-approved company such as Westbury windows and joinery, to discuss your plans. They will be familiar with the local area and with local planning issues, and will be able to give you pointers regarding whether you may need planning approval.
Getting a FENSA-approved tradesperson to complete the work ensures that your doors and windows will be automatically compliant with applicable building regulations. This approach will help ensure that you will not have to worry about enforcement, or disclose any issues and pay for an indemnity policy, if and when you come to sell the property.
Fortunately, your conveyancing solicitor can arrange a low-cost indemnity insurance policy instead. This indemnity policy will protect you, and future owners, from the financial consequences of enforcement action, if any is taken.
Crucially, indemnity policies are usually not available if you have already informed the authorities of the breach. If you are selling a property with unauthorised works, your conveyancing solicitor can advise you how to proceed.’
Westbury Windows and Joinery are a FENSA registered company, and recognise the importance of fitting your windows and doors with the correct expertise.