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One in ten homeowners have broken planning rules in last five years

£6 billion worth of home improvements unlawful

Research by the home insurance company LV= of builders and surveyors found that 10% of the homes they have viewed in the last five years have broken planning permission rules. Loft conversions, conservatories, and the removal of walls were just some of the catalogue of offences they had witnessed. This is a demonstration of the growing trend for homeowners to improve their home rather than move due to the lack of affordable homes and restricted mortgage lending. Increasingly desperate homeowners are bending the planning rules to suit their preferred improvements, often to accommodate a growing family.

The research cites the proposal, floated in September 2012, to relax planning rules on extensions, as a reason for the increase in illegal work. More than a third (35 per cent) of homeowners who are aware of the proposals think they have already come into effect and underestimate the planning rules involved in extending a home.

John O’Roarke, managing director of LV= home insurance, said: “Many homeowners are choosing to improve or extend their homes as they are unable to move or choose not to, but have little understanding of the ‘red tape’ involved with building work.”

The HomeOwners Alliance believes that homeowners should be allowed to improve their home without the 20% VAT charge, which crucially does not apply to new build properties. In a time of austerity when many families cannot afford to up-size extensions are the only alternative to over-crowding.

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