Q: I put in an offer on a repossessed house. It was accepted by the mortgaging bank and searches were started which turned up a query relating to building work done on the property several years ago, for which building regulations approval was never granted. The estate agent says it all looks OK but I am not sure whether to proceed with the sale. Can you advise?
A: Firstly you should check your survey or speak with your surveyor to see if there are any issues with building works which are defective and might need rectification to bring them up to an acceptable standard for Building Regulation purposes. You should check the age of the works. If the building work (which now includes electrical and plumbing work) contravenes Building Regulations, the Local Authority may serve an Enforcement Notice within twelve months of the infringement requiring the removal or rectification of non compliant work. In some circumstances the Local Authority may enforce the regulations by obtaining an injunction outside the 12 month period. The Council can prosecute in the Magistrates Court and if convicted you may be fined.
You could apply for a Regularisation Certificate as evidence that the regulation requirements have been complied with. However, if the works are in any way non compliant with the Regulations the Building Control officer will issue a list of work for completion before issuing a Certificate.
Alternatively, if available, indemnity insurance would cover any financial loss sustained directly from the local planning authority issuing a Notice of Non Compliance with the Regulations - but not the cost of rectifying non compliant work. You should also consider that there would still be inconvenience and, in extreme cases, the works might have to be removed. If indemnity insurance is available you should carefully check the terms, conditions and exclusions of any proposed policy.