I’m selling my home. Do I need proof of building compliance for my extension?

Property clinic: It is not necessarily essential to obtain an opinion on compliance to sell your property

A suitably qualified building surveyor, engineer or architect can retrospectively certify compliance with building regulations. Photograph: iStock

A suitably qualified building surveyor, engineer or architect can retrospectively certify compliance with building regulations. Photograph: iStock

 

I have a question on the essential paperwork from a legal perspective that will be required when I sell my house.

My house is a two-up two- down, built in 1983 and I’ve lived in it from new. In 2009, I built on a single-storey extension, using an architectural technician at the design stage and a chartered engineer to supervise the main elements of the build. Although the extension was exempt from the requirement for planning permission, under section 5 of the Planning & Development Act 2000, I applied to South Dublin County Council for a formal declaration to this effect and I subsequently received the declaration. (The application to SDCC included various maps and floor plans and elevations, an Opinion on Exemption from Planning Control from the Chartered Engineer and a nominal fee of €80).

The purpose of getting this formal declaration was to make things straightforward when I come to sell, and I assumed that this is all I would need. However, a friend in a similar situation has recently been advised by her solicitor that in the event of her selling her house (for which she also has a Declaration of Exempted Development), she would also be required to have a Certificate of Compliance with Building Control Regulations and a Declaration of Identity; and that her engineer should provide this documentation. Can you please clarify what these two documents are, and whether or not they are essential for me to ensure a smooth property sale. My concern is that my engineer is a sole trader and indeed may have retired since I used his services over 12 years ago.

If these additional documents are required and my engineer is no longer in business, how do I get that paperwork at this stage?

Gina Mullen writes: The Declaration of Exemption you have obtained from South Dublin City Council is confirmation that the extension was exempt from the requirements to obtain planning permission. While the extension was an exempted development it is a requirement, however, that its construction complied with building regulations. Building regulations apply to all types of construction to include extensions and the regulations set down the standards applied to ensure that the works concerned have been designed and constructed in compliance with the said regulations.

It is not necessary that you engage the same engineer who oversaw the construction of the extension to now prepare the Certificate of Compliance with Building Regulations. A suitably qualified building surveyor, engineer or architect can retrospectively certify compliance.

While prudent to obtain an opinion on compliance with building regulations it is not necessarily deemed essential for the sale of your property. Your solicitor can qualify the planning position under the contract for sale by the insertion of a special condition confirming that the construction of the extension was exempt and putting the purchaser on notice that the only document being furnished is the Declaration of Exemption from South Dublin City Council.

If a proposed purchaser does not accept the condition, you would be required at that point to obtain the Certificate of Compliance with Building Regulations. If you/your solicitor adopt this approach you would not have to incur the costs of obtaining the certificate unless insisted upon by the purchaser. It is advisable that you consult with your solicitor and estate agent before placing the property on the market.

Declaration of Identity

It is not necessary when selling a secondhand property to engage a chartered surveyor or engineer to prepare a Declaration of Identity. A Declaration of Identity is a document whereby the surveyor/engineer certifies a property with regard to the accuracy of the site boundaries and services. In some instances, a proposed purchasers’ solicitor may request same but it is not a requirement for the sale of a second-hand property. It is customary for a special condition to be inserted into the contract whereby the onus is placed on the purchaser to make their own enquiries and be satisfied as to the nature and extent of the boundaries and services.

It may be the case, noting that you purchased your house as a new build, that a Declaration of Identity was provided at the time when you purchased?

To avoid any delays in the sale of your property, set out below is a list of the additional essential documents required for the sale:

a) Your original title documents. If you have a mortgage secured on the property, the deeds will be held by your bank or other financial institution. Otherwise, your deeds may be held by you or by your solicitor. If you intend to place the property on the market in the immediate future you may now wish to instruct your solicitor to take up your title deeds as it can take between three and six weeks for deeds to be released by the mortgage holder;

b) All planning documentation in relation to your house when it was originally constructed. Your title documents should contain all of the relevant planning documentation and certifications from when your acquired your house;

c) Local property tax printout summary;

d) BER (Building Energy Rating) Certificate.

e) Non Principal Private Residence Tax Certificate of exemption. This can be applied for through the local authority.

f) Letter from the local authority confirming roads and services are in charge. It is usual practice for your solicitor to request this confirmation from the local authority.

Gina Mullen, solicitor, at P O’Connor & Son poconsol.ie

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