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December 2015

Question

We are in the process of completing the purchase of a new house in a development. The house is almost complete and is due to be signed off by the builder’s architect in the next couple of weeks. The house has planning permission for a garage on the eastward side of the house, however, we did not proceed with the construction of this as we believed it would interfere with light entry to the house. We changed the internal configuration of the house with the agreement of the builder and his architect, however, there are a number of additional changes that we want to make after the builder has completed the house and his architect has signed off on the existing building: 1. To add two new windows in the gable end of the house – there is already one window in this wall; 2. Build the garage on the west side of the house – the proposed garage is behind and to the side of the house and will be visible from the road.

Can you please advise if planning permission is required for either or both of these modifications?

Answer

Natural lighting is critical within buildings and it is understandable that one would want to improve on an existing design in order to maximise it. The installation of two new windows in the gable end of a house however, is not an exempt development, and therefore would require planning permission, irrespective of the fact that there is already a window in the same gable.

It should be noted that local authorities will normally have specific requirements when it comes to the installation of windows close to neighbouring boundaries. For example, at ground level, they generally need to be a distance of at least one metre from the boundary, whereas on upper floor levels, they may need to be 11m away.

The proposed garage is a little more complicated. In general, the construction of a new garage within the curtilage of a house is an exempt development, subject to several conditions. In summary, they should not exceed 25m2 floor area; they should not reduce the amount of private open space at the rear of the house to less than 25m2 and the height of the garage should not exceed 4m if it has a tiled or slated roof, or 3m for any other roof type. If the garage is constructed to the side of the house, rather than to the rear, further restrictions apply. The new garage should not be placed forward of the front wall of the house and the roof and wall finishes should match that of the house.

However, planning permissions are normally granted with a condition that the development be constructed in accordance with the plans and particulars submitted. Therefore, it is possible that the proposed relocation of the garage to the west side of the house would be deemed as non-compliant with the original planning permission granted, depending on the details of the permission and its conditions. Hence, planning permission may need to be sought for this change. It might be helpful to seek advice from the original architect involved in the project, as he or she should be familiar with the details of the case.

Andrew O’Gorman is a Chartered Planning and Development Surveyor and a Chartered Building Surveyor and is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland.