Monthly Archives: October 2016

Permission for solar panels

Enhancing your home with a new extension is a great idea, but you might want to take the opportunity to make it even better by adding solar panels to the roof. After all, you will now have a large space that needs to be heated and more roof space to accommodate the panels. Doing it all at the same time can be a great idea and even save you money in the long run.

For the most part solar panels do not need Planning Permission, but you may find that your home is subject to some of the restrictions that currently exist regarding the installation of solar panels on the roof. These restrictions are as follows:

  • The solar panels should be positioned so that they do not have a visual impact on the area or the external appearance of the building. Ideally this means putting them on the back of the house
  • The panels should be removed when no longer required
  • The panels cannot protrude further than 200mm from the roof slope and cannot be installed any higher than the highest part of the roof (but not on the chimney!)
  • Panels cannot be installed on a listed building or within the grounds of a listed building
  • Solar panels cannot be installed on a designated monument site
  • Panels installed in conservation areas cannot be fitted to the front of the house or building
  • Permission must be sought from the leaseholder for installations on flats and the management company must be informed

While you will not need Planning Permission if you fit into the above criteria, you will still need Building Regulations approval. The electrical work, the load capacity of the roof and the registration of the builder will all need to be checked. The installer needs to be registered under the Competent Person Scheme or your panels will not be eligible for the feed-in-tariff.

What about home planning an extension

People choose to extend their homes for a variety of reasons – to add value, to make it more balanced or to simply give them more space for a growing family. Whatever your reason may be, you still need to make sure that you are properly prepared for the extension and that you have thought through the main considerations before you start. The following list of 5 things to think about before you get started on an extension will ensure that the project gets going without a hitch.

Planning permission

Before you even start you should consider whether your extension will require planning permission. The rules for planning in your area are detailed at the UK Planning Portal website and there, you can find out if your extension will come under permitted development or if you will need to go through the planning process. This could add as much as 3 months to the time it takes to complete your project, but it does ensure that your extension is legal and that your neighbours are aware of what is happening.

Building regulations

This is quite distinct from planning permission and most extensions will require building regulations approval, even if they do not need planning permission. Essentially, buildings regulations ensures that your extension is safe and that it meets the current legislation for the type of work you are having done. It is a simple process and probably won’t slow down the build too much. It usually involves one or two visits from an inspector to ensure the work is being carried out to their rules and regulations.

Insurance

Before you do any work at all you should check with your buildings insurer to find out what their rules are when it comes to building work. Most builders will have the necessary site insurance, but don’t take their word for it. Ask to see their certificates and and get your own insurance if you are not sure. If you are leaving your home during the work you need a special type of insurance to cover this.

Put Off Buying a House Near Fracking Sites

In a new survey commissioned by House-Extension.co.uk, and conducted by OnePoll, it has been revealed that up to 64% of homeowners would be less likely to buy a house, if it was situated near a fracking site. This is perhaps not that surprising, as proximity to infrastructure developments such as power stations have always been a consideration for house buyers. With news this week that the government has overturned Lancashire County Councils rejection of an application by Cuadrilla to setup a fracking operation, it looks as though Fracking could well be here to stay, with more applications underway for new sites across the country.

In the survey conducted by OnePoll, on behalf of this website, 1,000 respondents across the UK were asked if they would ever consider buying a house near a fracking site, and whether they were for or against fracking if it reduced their energy bills.

Over 64% of respondents said that they would be reluctant to buy a home near a fracking site. In response to the question, 21% said that they were somewhat unlikely to consider buying a home near a fracking site, and 43% stated that they were very unlikely to do so.

When looking into the ages of the respondents, 45 to 54 year olds were most unlikely to buy a home near a fracking site (68%) compared to 59% of 18 to 34 year olds. There was also a higher number of women (63%) who stated that they were unlikely to buy a home near a fracking site compared to 54% of men.

Conversely, when respondents were asked if they were for or against fracking if it reduced their energy bills, 32% said that they were in favour of fracking. This sentiment was almost matched however by 31% of respondents who stated that they were against fracking even if it resulted in lower energy bills.

Solution for damp problems

In recent years, due to government campaigns and free offers, more and more homeowners have been having wall cavity insulation added to their homes. In most cases this is a welcome addition that can save a homeowner as much as £275 per year according to the Energy Saving Trust. But in some cases, it has been shown to cause damp and mould problems and it may even need to be removed.

What is cavity wall insulation?
Most homes are constructed with exterior walls that have a gap between the outer brick and the inner block. This air gap can promote heat loss from the inside and wall cavity insulation is designed to fill this space. Usually an insulation material is pumped into the space – a job that should be done by experts to ensure that it no gaps are left and that your home is suitable.

Does wall cavity insulation cause damp problems?
Not always, but if it has been incorrectly fitted or your home is not suitable, it can lead to problems. The consumer company Which? carried out an investigation into wall cavity insulation problems a few years ago and they discovered that some homes are not suitable, but that some installers were not aware of the problem. If your home is affected by the following this may not be suitable for you:

Your outside walls are affected by driven rain or regular rainfall – this applies to certain parts of the UK where wall cavity insulation should not be fitted at all.
Your home is in an unsheltered position and not protected by other houses or tree cover.
Your brickwork is in poor condition with cracks or blown grouting or render.

If these issues affect you, water could penetrate the outside walls of your home and literally soak the insulation. This is then transferred to the inner walls of your home causing damp and mould. The only solution at this stage is to have the insulation completely removed, the outer walls repaired and the insulation re-installed – a lengthy but effective solution.