Buyers remorse: what can we do if the house we’re buying has no building regulations completion certificate?

Question: We are buying a three-bedroom terrace house. Our solicitor has discovered that there is no building regulations completion certificate for the third bedroom, which is in the attic.

She has said that this will affect the value of the house, and that our lenders will not lend to us now. The house was advertised by the estate agents as having three bedrooms. What can we do about this?

Answer: An application for building regulations consent may not have been made at all. Alternatively, an application could have been made but the completed attic conversion may not have been inspected and signed off, in which case the building control inspector could now be invited to inspect, sign off the works and issue a completion certificate if all is found to be satisfactory.

The seller may offer to pay for indemnity insurance for lack of a building regulations completion certificate.

However, it would be unwise to accept this, as building control is concerned with the health and safety of persons in and around buildings and without a completion certificate you will not know whether the attic conversion has been constructed properly and safely.

The agents have advertised the property as having three bedrooms. Without a completion certificate this description is inaccurate and could amount to misrepresentation.

You could walk away, as you have not yet exchanged contracts. Alternatively, you could establish the value of the property with two bedrooms and make an offer for that amount.

Or you could reduce the offer you have made for the property, to reflect the cost of putting the loft conversion in order so that it satisfies building regulations.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a solicitor specialising in residential property.

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