Monthly Archives: May 2017

External wall materials

The building of an extension is certainly going to alter the way that you home looks and part of that process is adding external walls that work with the existing structure, but also possibly changing the existing wall cladding to give a more attractive overall look. In most cases your exterior walls will be exempt from planning permission, but there are cases where planning will be required.

  • If you live in a listed building or in a conservation area you will almost certainly need planning permission
  • If you want to clad your new or existing walls with stone, pebble dash, render, tiles or plastic and you live in an area of outstanding beauty or a national park you will need to apply
  • In all other cases you still need to ensure the cladding or wall covering you choose must be in keeping with the existing style

Building regulations

Changing the look of the outside walls of your home may not always need building regulations approval – but the addition of new external walls as part of your extension probably will. Building regulations use a set of rules to determine if approval is required:

  • If more than 25 percent of the exterior walls are re-built, re-rendered, re-clad or re-plastered then evidence of correct insulation will need to be supplied to building regulations inspectors
  • If new external wall cavity insulation is inserted into walls you may need them to assess this
  • Generally your new walls should be built using the cavity wall system as this provides a better thermal load. Buildings regulations will be checking for this. Solid walls will need special insulation to make them passable
  • Wall loads are also incredibly important and will be checked. If your new walls are holding up upper stories or the roof they need to comply with loading rules and possibly having lintels installed
  • Weather resistance rules and thermal resistance rules are also taken into account
  • Your walls need to meet fire protection rules also and existing walls may need to be upgraded as part of the work to ensure compliance

Planning permission for a garden wall

When you decide to build an extension on your home there’s a very good chance that there may be additional garden landscaping work that will need to be completed, to fit in with the change of shape. In particular you will want to erect a fence or wall between your home and your neighbours that will accommodate the new addition. In most cases planning permission won’t be required, but there are some circumstances where you should double check with your council.

You may/will need Planning Permission if:

Your fence, gate or wall will be more than 1 metre high and is next to the road or footpath.
Your fence is over 2 metres high and is erected anywhere on your property.
Your deeds suggest that you are not allowed to erect fences, gates or walls on your property.
You live in a listed house or in a conservation area.
The fence, wall or gate shares a boundary with any other property that happens to be listed.

What if i just want to remove a fence or wall?

Planning Permission is not needed for the removal of walls or fences or for when you are replacing those that are already there. But you must not replace them with anything higher. However if you live in a conservation area you may need permission to alter the look of your fence or gate.

Bushes or hedges?

Usually Planning Permission will not be needed for hedges unless your deeds include a covenant that restricts them. This might be the case if they were to restrict the sightlines of drivers or pedestrians.

Windows and Doors Planning Tips

When you decide to get your extension built you will probably choose your doors and windows based on whether they fit in with your existing home and by how thermally efficient they are. You may give very little thought into whether these choices will affect your requirement for Planning Permission. But if you make the wrong choice you may find yourself having to go down that route.

For the vast majority of cases, you will not usually need to apply for Planning Permission for the doors and windows on a permitted development extension. If the extension itself has been carefully planned to avoid planning then you are normally home and dry. If you stick to the following rules, your chances of needing planning are greatly reduced.

  • You are simply repairing or maintaining the existing windows – you may do this as part of a general refurbishment during your extension build
  • The new doors and windows look similar to those already on the house
  • Side windows are made from obscured glass, if they face towards neighbours
  • Upper windows need to be at least 1.7 metres above floor level or non-opening

Roof lights or skylights

If you want to add a skylight to your extension you can normally do so without the need of Planning Permission as long as they protrude no further than 150mm beyond the roof slope, they are no higher than the current roof and the adhere to the obscured glass and opening restrictions detailed above.

When will I need Planning Permission?

In some cases, your new extension may not be eligible for permitted development because it is too large or your home is listed or in a conservation area. If this is the case you may need to apply for Planning Permission that will include some restrictions on the type of windows and doors used. This will also apply if you live in a flat.

Wall insulation be causing internal damp problems

When you had your cavity wall insulation installed, you probably were excited about all the benefits. After all, the Energy Saving Trust suggests that you could save as much as £275 a year on your energy bills from having this type of work carried out. But has it become a nightmare for you because of damp issues? If so, you are probably wondering what on earth you can do to correct the problem. Millions of people are discovering that the insulation they had installed (often free of charge under government schemes), in the hope of reducing energy costs, are actually now having the exact opposite effect, causing damp and mould problems.

 

How can wall cavity insulation cause damp?

First of all, it’s worth noting that not all damp problems are caused by faulty cavity wall insulation, and equally not all cavity wall problems will end up causing you issues with damp. Despite the fact that most people’s cavity wall insulation will continue to provide them with energy and efficiency savings over it’s lifetime, unfortunately some installations can result in serious damp problems.

Cavity wall insulation is designed to do one thing; to insulate the cavity in your wall. Insulation material is pumped into the cavity between the outer brick of your house, and the inner brickwork. The type of material used for the insulation does vary, but essentially it serves the same purpose – which is to increase the insulation of your cavity – therefore reducing the transfer of energy between the inside and outside of your home. For the insulation to function effectively, the cavity must remain dry. If the material used to insulate your wall does get wet, then this can transfer moisture to your inner walls, causing mould and damp problems.

If you have cavity wall insulation but are not currently experiencing damp problems, then it is wise to try to protect your walls against the ingress of water, which could result in damp problems. One of the most common reasons for cavity wall insulation to fail, is simply due to outer brickwork being in poor condition. If you live in a particularly wet or windy area (for example on an exposed coastline), you should consider that you may need to ensure that your wall is regularly maintained, repairing any lose grouting or badly eroded bricks before they cause bigger problems.

 

What can I do?

If your home is affected by damp following the installation of wall cavity insulation then the only solution is to have the wet insulation removed or extracted. This is a job that needs to be carried out by a qualified and experienced contractor and can be costly. Your contractor will open the holes in your outer wall that were in place for the installation and use a vacuum pump to suck out the insulation. They may also need to use high pressure hoses to dislodge it. If you have solid wall insulation the process will be more costly as parts of the wall may need to be removed.

Your contractor will be able to tell you if you should consider having the insulation re-installed. If your walls are correctly repaired, then this might be suitable but you should be fully convinced that your home is not at risk of further damp issues. The Telegraph have recently reported on an increased volume of cases of wall insulation going bad, and we echo their concerns that there may be many more houses that will require their insulation to be removed.

 

How will I pay for the removal?

This is a tricky one and no clear answers seem to be available at the moment. You may feel that your guarantee will mean that the company that did the installation is liable, this isn’t always the case – but it should certainly be your first port of call. If you went through your energy supplier, you could also contact them for advice.