Keeping safe Building Regulations Certificates & Guarantees
by Head of Property, David Williams

One of the most frequent comments we receive about conveyancing transactions is the fact that it often takes longer than the client was expecting. Whilst we always use our best endeavours to achieve a timely exchange and completion, there are steps a property owner can take to save time and expense in a sale.

When you instruct a firm of solicitors to sell your house they will send you a document called a Property Information Form which enables you to provide details about your house e.g. responsibility for boundaries, any shared access, neighbour disputes, any alterations or improvements.

It is the question of alterations and improvements that always proves the most problematic.

Whenever any works have been carried out the purchaser’s solicitor will invariably request documentary evidence the works were completed in accordance with any planning permission granted and are to industry standards and building regulations compliant. Therefore, if you do have any works carried out on your property you should ensure the contractor is registered with their appropriate regulatory body and provide the necessary certificate when the works are completed.

The following are an example of the certificates we are asked to provide to evidence building regulations compliance: –

  • New windows and doors: These must always be installed by a contractor who is able to provide a FENSA or CERTASS certificate.
  • Electrical installations and improvements: A certificate confirming NICEIC compliance needs to be issued.
  • New central heating and boilers: It is essential the contractor is GasSafe registered (formerly CORGI) and works registered with GasSafe.
  • Wood Burning Stoves. These are becoming increasingly popular and modern installations must be issued with a HETAS certificate in respect of the stove and flue lining. In addition, a recent certificate confirming the chimney has been swept is often requested.
  • Extensions and loft conversions. Building regulation compliance will be signed off by your local authority and registered in the Land Charges Register. A Building Regulation Completion Certificate will be issued and should be kept by the owner.

If you have any works carried out that would require a certificate it essential the contractor, or their regulatory body, provides you with this certificate and you keep it in a safe place for future reference.

If the work is covered by a guarantee, then this should be kept with the certificate. Therefore, when you complete and return the Property Information Form to your solicitor, you can include all the certificates and guarantees relating to any work listed in the form. This will enable your solicitor to provide copies to the buyer’s solicitor at the outset of the transaction and prevent any unnecessary enquiries being raised.

If you are unable to provide these certificates the buyer’s solicitor will ask for us to either obtain copies (provided they were issued in the first place) or provide a policy of indemnity insurance to cover for the lack of building regulation compliance. Both add delay and expense to the transaction, with replacement certificates costing upwards of £30.00 and indemnity insurance policies sometimes costing several hundred pounds.

In the worst-case scenario, they may insist the works are inspected and a retrospective certificate be issued. This can only be done if the works are indeed compliant. If not, expensive remedial building works may be required.

In summary, always employ a regulated contractor, ensure they provide you with the certificate of compliance and guarantee and keep them all in a safe place. You will save time and money.

David is a Director and Head of Property at Onions and Davies and has over 20 years’ experience in property matters. For a quote to buy or sell property, re-mortgage or transfer property, please contact David at david.williams@onionsanddavies.co.uk or on 01630 652405.