Home Renovations – What You Need To Know

March 20, 2023

"It’s important to be sure that you are entitled to carry out any works on your property"

Michelle Leverington, Partner and Head of Property

This article was first published in Hunt Estates – Jersey Properties of Distinction Magazine

When searching for your dream home, sometimes a property comes along that’s great, but would be perfect with a new bedroom or extended kitchen.

Property renovations are common, however, for larger projects, like an extension, it’s important to consider the laws that govern what you can and cannot build, where, and whether or not permission is required.

In Jersey, there are customary law rules in relation to the boundaries to a property which might restrict what you can do. For example, unless your purchase contract states otherwise, windows or air vents must be set back from a boundary by at least 2 feet 9 inches. If you fail to do this, your neighbour can insist they are removed or, in the case of a window, frosted and made non-opening.

Property rights and boundaries aren’t considered by Planning and Building Control when reviewing an application. It’s up to each property owner to ensure they understand and comply with their legal obligations when submitting plans.

Some works to properties are allowed without an application to the Planning Department. Owners should be very clear as to whether the works they wish to undertake fall within the scope of the exemptions under the Planning and Building (General Development) (Jersey) Order 2011. A breach of planning law could see you having to spend more on applying for retrospective consent and expose you to the risk of being fined for having carried out the works without consent.

If the planned works need a neighbour to agree to changes in the property’s boundaries it is important to make sure any agreements reached with neighbours are properly recorded. It’s really important to understand that just because your neighbour agrees with you ‘over the fence’ this is not legally binding. The only way for a neighbour to agree legally is for them to be party to a contract passed before the Royal Court confirming their agreement.

The message here is that it’s important to be sure that you are entitled to carry out any works on your property. If you are not sure, you should seek advice; not doing so could be a costly error.

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