If you plan to knock down your property's walls, there are three important aspects to know about before you get the sledge hammer out - planning permission, building regulations and party walls.
You are breaking the law if you do any work that doesn't comply, or without first getting the relevant permission. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) warns projects can be even stopped and developers forced to tear down renovations or extensions at their own expense if modifications haven't received permissions.
'People often confuse planning permission and building regulations. They are both statutory requirements if you plan to alter a property but that's where the similarity ends,' says Hugo Tugman, founder of www.architectyourhome.com. 'Planning and building regulations are completely separate requirements,' he adds.
'Planning permission is all about the form and use of a building and how that use affects its environment - be that visually, in development terms or in social terms. If you are considering altering the external appearance of a property, or planning major internal alterations, you should start by contacting your local council's planning department to find out if you need permission for the work,' he adds.
* Outline planning permission - permission has been granted for some kind of dwelling to be built, but before work can start full details of the build must be approved.
* Full planning permission - permission has been granted for a particular design. Conditions may be attached such as requirements to build with a particular type of brick.
* Listed building consent - this will be needed if the property to be renovated or converted is listed. Detailed planning permission will also be required as may Conservation Area Consent.
* Conservation area consent - this will be needed if the property to be renovated or converted is in a conservation area. Detailed planning permission will be also be required as may Listed Building Consent.
* Other permissions may be required in certain circumstances, for instance, if there is a tree preservation order.
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