1.How can we meet building control’s airtightness requirements?
We finished a self-build last year and we’re only now getting round to applying for a completion certificate. Building control requires a Q50 airtightness result between 5 and 7. Our test has come in at a much better 2.79 – which we’re told is too good! I’ve been informed that it’s not as simple as just inserting a couple of vents and that we may have to strip plasterboard from the walls and remove the seals from the joins between the walls and floor. In the house plans, the SAP calculations state a figure of 7 for the Q50. Unfortunately, due to disputes, we parted ways with the architect before the end of the project. Do you know of a less drastic way of getting the Q50 figure up to 5?
I’ll confess that this sort of situation is new to me and I’ve had to ask my professional contacts for their take on it. It seems a real shame to have to take retrograde action when a house has been built to such impressive standards, but it points out the perils of working to high levels of airtightness without professional guidance. I’m wondering if parting with your designer at a crucial stage has led to this situation, because no architect I know would have sanctioned building to this standard without specifying a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery (MVHR) system to maintain the levels of fresh air required inside the home. As you have no doubt discovered, retrospectively installing MVHR is expensive and disruptive, which is why it needs to be considered during the early design stages. My building control friend Paul Kalbskopf has suggested discussing the possibility of installing stand-alone units with building control.
2.Can I move my neighbour’s electricity supply?
I recently bought a steading (with planning permission to convert it to a house) and I need to re-route my neighbour’s electricity supply, which currently runs over the top of the building. Previously, both our properties were under joint ownership, before being sold off. I contacted SSE and they quoted £7,500 to bury the cable. Do I have any legal ammunition in my favour that I can use to persuade my neighbour to bear some of the cost?
I am afraid that this enquiry is most suited to a lawyer, as you are questioning the right of your neighbour to have electric cables running above your property. My own view is that, if this was being proposed now, you would have every right to prevent your neighbour from negotiating an overhead supply across your land to service their dwelling. However, you have recently acquired the steading with the overhead line already in position. One would assume that consent must have been agreed as a result of both properties being in common ownership. I would suggest that you have no right of recovery for the cost of moving these services underground but you may be able to appeal to the good nature of your neighbour for a contribution. My own experience with utility companies is that their fees are generally negotiable and if you feel their quoted sum is too high, I would tackle the matter directly with them as it may lead to a reduction.
3.What’s the best way to appeal a planning refusal?
We’ve recently had our planning application denied. We disagree with the reasons the council gave and are hoping to appeal the decision. Has anyone had any experience with appeal companies? Is it best to go with a business that uses town planners or a law firm that specialises in this area?
It is advisable to seek professional advice with an appeal, as it is very much the option of last resort. Who is best to go to depends on the nature of the case, but generally planning lawyers come into their own where the issues are complex and not ease like putting a baby in a double stroller for infant and toddler and there are legal matters to consider. For most appeals concerning new dwellings, or alterations to existing ones, consultants (who may be chartered town planners or planning and development surveyors) are the best choice … Read the rest of article