How to extend your home WITHOUT planning permission

LOCKDOWN restrictions have left us itching for more space to relax, work and socialise in our own homes. 

In fact, more than half of homeowners said they were planning to improve their homes this year by adding bedrooms, an office and even their own private bar, according to a survey by Rated People.


Many home extensions do not need planning permissionCredit: Getty

If you’re thinking of extending your house, you can pick a project that doesn’t need planning permission saving you time and money.

Convert your unused space

Converting an attached garage can cost from £5,000 to £7,500. If you’re using an architect or there are structural questions like whether the foundations are sound, then costs can rise. 

You shouldn’t need planning permission unless you add new external windows or doors or there is a planning restriction in your property deeds that bans a conversion. 

Loft conversions are another way of making use of wasted space. Depending on the type of conversion, style and finish, prices range from £17,000 to around £50,000.

Not to mention the two-month wait for approval.

To keep costs low, don’t make changes to external walls like adding a dormer window. 

Loft conversions are classed as a permitted development (PD). Householders are given permitted development rights to alter or extend their homes without planning permission.

This saves you a £206 application fee and the cost of professional advice and drawings which in total can set you back around £2,000.

But be warned, the permitted development rule book is big and complicated.

For example, the rules say a loft conversion cannot extend higher than your roof and it can’t be more than 50 cubic metres (40 for a terraced house), which is enough space for a bedroom. 

Adding a room

A single storey rear extension is the most popular and easiest building work to carry out using your rights. The average cost is £35,000.  Here are the PD rules:

  • Detached homes extensions can be up to four metres long. 
  • Semi-detached homes or terraced houses are restricted to three metres.
  • Neither can be higher than four metres
  • Larger single-storey rear extensions of up to eight metres for a detached house/ six metres for a semi or terrace are allowed with prior approval.

Applying for prior approval is almost like a full planning application but has a cheaper application fee of £96.

Adding a home office in the garden 

Working from a home has become a way of life for many families. 

Gregory Smith, property expert at, said: “If you have garden space you may well be able to add a shed, garden office or outbuilding so long as it does not exceed 50% of the garden area. 

“It cannot be used to live in but would be the perfect answer to home working.”  

Other PD limitations include a height restriction of 2.5 metres to the eaves and four metres overall. 

It costs between, £15,000 to £17,000 to erect a single room office in the garden. 

Exceptions to the rule

Flats and maisonettes, converted houses or houses in conservation areas are among the properties that don’t have PD rights. Check with your local authority to find out.

You also need to know if any extensions or alterations have already been made to your home. 

Whatever work has taken place since 1948 will count towards the total amount of work you can do under PD rules.

Check your local authority’s online planning portal for historic applications. You can also see what planning applications your neighbours have made to give you some ideas.  

Legally sound

A Lawful Development Certificate gives you certainty in the eyes of the law that your project is a permitted development. 

Andrew Cann, director of Planning Direct, said: “The PD legislation has so many exemptions and is poorly worded you might think you don’t need planning permission when you do. 

“Obtaining a Lawful Development Certificate will help you avoid a costly demolition process or being unable to sell your house in the future.”

You’ll need to provide full details of your intended project, with plans, to your council and explain how it fits within your rights. 

“It costs around £1,250 for all the work including an application fee which is half the cost of a full planning application fee.

Simple solutions

“Keep it simple because if you start to complicate the design, construction and building materials your costs will spiral,” Mr Smith added.

“Try hiring self-employed tradespeople to save on VAT costs too.” 

His tip to cut down on professional fees such as architects, planning consultants or structural engineers is to find one who will produce planning and Building Regulations drawings for a fixed, all-in one price.

Use websites like, or to compare costs of hiring a professional. 

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