Home Renovation Permits: When Are They Needed?

August 30, 2023

Do your plans to spruce up the house require home renovation permits?

With the cost of property ever-rising in the UK, many homeowners are making the smart decision to perfect their existing homes to their needs instead of taking out another mortgage and tying themselves to decades of repayments.

UK planning laws and regulations can be strict, and typically require homeowners to inform the local council of their plans to make sure they are compliant with the rules. 

However, there are a number of home renovations that do require a permit from the local council. Failing to obtain the permissions and going ahead can be an extremely costly affair and stop your renovation in its tracks. Be prepared to start any renovation work with the question, is a permit required for my home improvements?


Rules can be complex, and it is essential that you check with a local architect or surveying firm that can appraise you of the permits you need for what you’ve planned.

  • Outbuildings larger than 15 sq. mt. with sleeping facilities must comply with building regulations. This applies to sheds, greenhouses and garages.
  • If you’re extending the roofline, you may require planning permission.
  • Any changes to a listed property require consent and a commitment to use the appropriate techniques to maintain the character of the building.

Contractors and homeowners also need to be aware of the need to comply with the Building Regulations 2010 to get home renovation permits. These are separate from planning permission laws, and govern the alteration and addition of things like air conditioning units, replacing windows, replacing roofs, replacing heating systems and adding extra radiators to a heating system.

Any exterior work near the boundary of your house needs to be checked carefully against the Party Wall Act. Home renovation laws can be strict, and force you to pay to undo unlawful changes made to your home.

Electrical and plumbing

Any changes to the existing wiring of a home requires you to obtain a permit before beginning the work. 

The same principle applies to any new home's plumbing installation or the alteration/repair of an existing home's plumbing system.

Since 2005, all electrical work within residential properties in England and Wales, regardless of whether it is conducted professionally or as a DIY project, and irrespective of whether the work requires notification to a building control authority or not, must adhere to the stipulations outlined in Part P of the Building Regulations.

Following Part P regulations ensures maximum safety for you and your loved ones by mitigating electrical risks.

Beginning in April 2013, any electrical task carried out within a dwelling or its vicinity must be reported to a local building control authority if it involves:

  • Introducing a new circuit, whether at low voltage (commonly 230 V) or extra-low voltage.
  • Substituting a consumer unit (fusebox).
  • Modifying or supplementing an existing circuit in a specific area*, whether at low voltage (typically 230 V) or extra-low voltage.

You will also require a permit if you wish to:

  • Replace a fuse box and its connected electrics.
  • Make changes to plumbing when installing a new bathroom.
  • Modify any electrics near the shower or bath area.

Best practice involves obtaining an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) after rewiring work has been completed. The inspection must be carried out by a member of the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC). 

The following instances necessitate a plumbing permit:

  • Substituting water heaters and subterranean piping, modifying piping concealed within walls, ceilings, or under flooring, and for plumbing within all novel installations.
  • Urgent repairs, changes, fixing freeze-induced damages, or addressing leaks in concealed piping, requiring a permit if the new piping surpasses 5 feet.
  • Revamping or expanding your residence while shifting existing plumbing. This covers the establishment of building sewers, water service, and exterior rain drains.


The garden is a popular part of the home to renovate. Well designed and kept gardens have the potential to boost our mood and make us feel happier. Garden fencing is often replaced during any renovation, but there are laws that govern the height of fences, and at which point home renovation permits must be acquired to make the desired changes.

You must obtain a home renovation permit as per home renovation laws if you wish to make any of the following changes:

  • When fencing reaches a height beyond 1 metre adjacent to any road or pavement, or if it reaches a height beyond 2 metres in other areas.
  • In the event your residence is a registered heritage structure or within its enclosed grounds.
  • If the fence, wall, gate, or any other demarcation implicated constitutes a boundary shared with an adjacent registered heritage structure or its enclosed grounds.

Bring a professional in

Gaining home renovation permits, or even understanding home renovation laws can be difficult. The potential costs of getting it wrong and having to undo your alterations can blow your entire budget out of the water.

That’s why you need to bring in a professional, and someone with good all-round knowledge and experience of home building and renovation to guide you every step of the way. Architects have some experience in every level of the build, and are well-placed to inform you of when a permit is required for home improvements.

Why don’t you speak to our team and see what we can do with you? Or check out our services and see if we can help you with your home renovation.

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