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December 2015

Question

There was a recent query about constructing a new garage and I wanted to expand on it a little. I have just agreed to purchase a house that has no garage and I want to build one and a home workshop as well as a boatshed. Both requirements are in the region of 50sq m, totalling 100sq m either together or separately. To keep costs to a minimum, I was considering the agricultural style of steel frame/steel sheet construction. It has been suggested to me that this type of kit building is less subject to planning but I haven’t found anything concrete (pun intended).

The new building(s) will be at the back of the property and the only immediate neighbour is already behind a 2m high boundary wall. Also, I wonder if this style of building could then be eligible for the Home Renovation Incentive scheme or if only traditional construction would qualify.

Answer

The Planning and Development Regulations allow certain exempt development works to be carried out around the house. This means that formal planning permission is not required. The regulations recognise various classes of development.

Each class of development has conditions and limitations on what is considered acceptable and these are clearly set out in a schedule in the regulations. If one moves beyond these restrictions, the works are no longer exempt.

Garages and domestic stores of the type you describe are termed “Class 3” development and are restricted to a floor area of 25sq m if they are to be deemed exempt development. Therefore, your proposed storage shed measuring 100sq m will need planning permission.

Larger agricultural buildings are permitted as being exempt. Again restrictions apply. These buildings are considered Class 6 and must be for agricultural use. They must form part of a farmyard complex. They must also be a minimum distance of 100m from nearby dwellings.

In an urban setting, as you described, an agricultural-style building would not be appropriate. Typically, planning authorities will place conditions on permitted development in terms of finishes and materials. Metal sheeting would not be acceptable as a wall cladding. This is to ensure the new building matches the house it serves. This allows the new structure to blend in with its surroundings.

The Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) applies to works around the house and does cover garages. The form of construction and finish used is not a hindrance to the application of the scheme. It should be possible, therefore, to recoup some of your expenditure through the initiative.

The form of construction and finish will, however, have an impact in terms of planning, and your application should clearly set out what materials you wish to use. Where possible you should match the materials already used in your new home.

You should also contact a suitably qualified designer to assist with your planning application.

Very useful guidance and further information about the HRI is available on the website of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland at medi-kids.info.

Noel Larkin is a Chartered Building Surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.