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Even hobbit houses need planning permission

Property owners in Wales have learned that it is one thing to build a house that is friendly to the environment, but it also has to be friendly to the Department of the Environment (DoE), or it risks being demolished.

Charlie Hague and Megan Williams, both aged 25, built an eco-home on a countryside site of land owned by Mr Hague’s father, next to eco-village Lammas. The unique style of the property drew comparisons to the hobbit houses that appear in the famous Lord of the Rings movies. It was built in just over a year using straw bales, a grass roof, and branches as its frame, at a total cost of approximately £15,000. However, the house now faces demolition because it was built without planning permission, and the Pembrokeshire council say it is “harmful to the rural character of the locality”.

The couple are appealing against the enforcement notice to demolish their house, and have submitted a retrospective planning application.

The case, while somewhat bizarre, raises what is an everyday problem for many home owners. People regularly begin large building projects without the requisite building control or planning approvals, often because they have not done sufficient research to assess if the work they are going to do falls into the category of work requiring permissions.

While some projects, such as garages and extensions, might seem obvious to most home owners, many people are not aware that other work, such as the removal of an internal load bearing wall, or change of a heating system, also require building control approval. This can result in thousands of pounds of work going to waste if retrospective applications for permission fail.

Wilson Nesbitt solicitors advises all its clients when they are purchasing a house on the need for building control and planning approval for future works. If in doubt, home owners should contact the Local Council, DoE, and the solicitor who acted for them in the purchase of their property, to clarify what permissions they need before they begin work.

If you are buying, selling or remortgaging a house in Northern Ireland, or constructing a property, contact one of the property solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt for advice and information on the conveyancing process by calling 0800 840 9290.

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