Demolishing a house and replacing it with a new one is common amongst self-builders as it creates the opportunity to build a completely new home. It is a substantial project and you will need planning approval regardless of the size, shape or location of the original house. Here’s what prospective self-builders should keep in mind along the way.
An easy and cost-effective way to build a house is to tear down an existing building and start again. If you have a dated or disused property, self-building could be more straightforward and cheaper per metre than renovating. Many people become self-builders after finding a perfect plot with a not-so-perfect property.
If you wish to demolish an existing property to build a new one, no matter how you intend on completing your new home you will need to contact your local planning authority. Although it can feel like a complex process, advice from experienced professionals and a willingness to learn will help the project run smoothly. You can also join one of our self-build courses, to enhance your understanding of the end-to-end process.
What are the planning permission requirements for demolishing and rebuilding a house?
If you want to demolish a structure on your land without replacing it, you must submit a prior notification for proposed demolition. This serves notice that you intend to carry out the work and gives the local authority a chance to get involved.
However, this specific prior notification is not required if the demolition forms part of a wider application. Such as redevelopment of the site. This is how most self-builders approach the process.
Often, the demolition and rebuilding are carried out together. This is usually so that the landowner can create a property with a larger footprint, or one that is taller than the original property known as an increase in 'ridge height'.
These new builds are known as replacement dwellings and can have a number of benefits. One of these is that you won’t have to prove that the land you want to build on is suitable for residential development. You will be given planning permission to build something, it’s just a matter of what. Your plans will still need to fit within your local authority’s framework. The important factors are design, access requirements, scale and siting, rather than having to start by proving that your space is suitable for a structure.
Replacement dwelling allowances
There are allowances for replacement dwellings that are subject to local planning policy. These will vary according to local circumstances. For instance, one authority may permit a 30% increase in size by volume for a replacement dwelling. While others might not allow any increase in size at all. Some local authorities may allow a 20% increase by floor area, while others won’t. You will need to undertake careful research, looking into your local authority’s requirements during your planning phase. Understanding these is crucial to a successful ‘demolish and rebuild’ application.
Local authorities use different means to calculate permitted increases to a dwelling size. Be sure that you understand which metric is being used by your local authority.
What are the advantages of replacement dwellings?
- You can often build a home much bigger than the existing house
- Finding a suitable plot may be easier
- You have the freedom to design a home that suits your needs and more energy efficient
- Mains services are readily available
- Access to the plot is established
- Demolition is actually quite inexpensive. Much of the material such as crushed brick and concrete can be reused in your new build
- Starting from scratch qualifies for 0% VAT on certain building materials - renovating does not
Can you demolish a property without planning permission?
In specially designated areas or for designated buildings, the act of demolition without planning consent is enforceable under planning rules. The consequences are usually hefty fines, and you would be liable if involved in any way.
This is true of conservation areas if the house is more than 115m³, and for many listed buildings. If the building is listed, you will need listed buildings consent rather than planning permission. The planning portal website contains more information about permission for this type of work. If you’re unsure of the status of your building or area, consult one of their guides.
As a result of this, self-builders looking to demolish and rebuild a house on a site they own need to word their planning applications very clearly. The phrase 'Demolition of existing dwelling and construction of new dwelling' would make the full plan clear during the application process.
You will also need to notify building control of your plans to demolish a house. This is because demolition sites can be incredibly dangerous places. You should serve a Section 80 Notice to the local authority building control department. Which can also be arranged with private, approved inspectors. You’ll need to give six weeks’ notice before you intend to demolish and you should receive a Section 81 agreement notice before this date.
Demolishing without planning permission
What is the general rule when it comes to self-building versus renovation? In theory the smaller and more run-down a house is, the more sensible it is to knock it down and start again.
This is true for financial as well as structural reasons. An important financial factor for self build projects is VAT. If you are building a house from scratch after demolition, you may be able to claim back VAT on certain materials. There should also be zero VAT on any services from builders or plumbers for example. Read more about VAT and self-building
If you decide to renovate or extend an existing house, you will have to pay the full 20% of VAT, which is something to bear in mind.
Are you considering demolishing an existing building to make way for your very own self build project? Get in contact with us to discuss your requirements and how we can help build your new home.