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Ignorance isn’t always bliss

Channel 4 are on a bit of a property blitz at the moment. They recently aired a mini series titled “Damned Designs”. It is a programme where homeowners are up against seasoned and robust councillors in a fight to stop their beloved homes being demolished. It seems that some people just don’t realise the importance of gaining proper planning permission and the costly implications of not playing it by the book. Having sat through a couple of hours worth, the issues each homeowner faced was usually a clear case of ignorance. Over the course of the series there were a number of stories that beggared belief.

There was a business man who lived on a large plot of rural land, having been given permission to extend his home by making modest adjustments he decided to turn his bungalow into something that was part White House and part Fresh Prince of Bel Air. How this chap could have thought that increasing the property’s size by about 300% was going to fly under the local authority’s radar only he knew. I mean, this was a property that you could probably see from Mars let alone the nearby dual carriage way. A lengthy and costly legal dispute ensued and very nearly resulted in a hefty demolition bill. On to the next one, a Surrey farmer decides to build a castle on his land. Knowing that it would be a problem for locals and councillors alike he decided to obscure it from view by hiding it behind bales of hay. He succeeded in hiding his up scaled regal property for over 5 years. However, those pesky councillors were not going to be in the dark forever and following a lengthy legal battle he was ordered to demolish the property within 90 days or face prison. He likened it to Rembrandt ripping up a masterpiece.

A couple of my close friends recently purchased their first home. It had been their dream to buy an old Victorian terrace in London and turn a blank canvas into a work of art. They did the honourable thing by keeping all of its original features even putting some back in, whilst also embarking on a bit of building work of their own. As the work progressed things got a little hairy but they took the relevant legal advice to ensure their own little masterpiece would be future proof from a planning perspective. Sensible if you’re spending a lot of hard earned cash.

It got me thinking about purchases in general and making sure that your solicitor has checked everything over with a fine tooth comb. If you come to sell your prize possession in years to come but there are no building regulations for that basement bedroom, master suite in the loft or huge extension, you may have issues that could potentially affect its value.

Have you dealt with the sale and purchase of properties with complex legal issues to include boundaries or complex building work? If so, there are well respected, long established firms looking for technically minded individuals that can add experience and technical know how to their current offering.

If you are interested in hearing more about residential property roles with firms of this nature in the North West, contact Nick Carroll or visit our website BCL Legal.

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