Our old windows were tatty and not at all in keeping with the property. I didn't check about planning permission before I started work as our flat wasn't in a conservation area and, since I was improving the appearance of the property, I assumed no such permission was necessary.
The windows were installed by a double-glazing specialist. The company made it clear that it was my responsibility to check out planning permission and building regulations issues, even if they didn't exactly shout about it.
The problems did not arise until I came to sell my house three-and-a-half years after I had the work done. During the conveyancing process I informed my buyers' solicitors that I'd had the windows replaced. The solicitors then asked if I had all the relevant permissions in place.
As my flat was leasehold, I was aware that strictly speaking I needed the consent of the freeholders to put new windows in. But I had assumed that, as I'd improved the property and the windows had been in for nearly four years, this wouldn't be a problem. It was.
The freeholder wouldn't give consent without retrospective planning permission from the council. My buyers' solicitors refused to proceed with the purchase without the freeholders saying the windows were allowed.
I had to go through the rigmarole of applying for retrospective consent, which delayed the sale by two months.
I knew building regulations were involved, but they weren't an issue as I had a certificate from the installers, who were Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme (FENSA) certified and therefore deemed to carry out work which passes the building regulations.
What I would have done differently: I would have got the consent of both council and freeholder before replacing the windows.
- Always read the small print when employing a firm to carry out work on your home.
- Any installation undertaken by a company which is not registered with FENSA or a similar body, or has been carried out by the homeowner, will need full local authority building control approval.
- Before you sign a contract to buy any replacement glazing, be sure to ask whether the installer is able to self-certify building regulations.