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messageBuilding alterations nightmare - Southwark council
Posted by cpow 14 June, 2018 12:04


So I am in a whole world of pain with the council. I recently bought a flat (leasehold) with the freehold held by the council. I have to go through them to notify of any alterations i want to make (apparently no matter how small).
I moved into the flat and the bathroom was uninhabitable so I applied for approval to change it and started work on it straight away. I changed the position of the toilet and changed the bath into a shower, tiled it all up and it looks great. This work was completed MONTHS ago, and I have only just received the consent in principle for it and some other works (which has taken about 6 months). Reading the report now, however, it says that it is "conditional upon all pipework and shower tray being surface mounted and not chased into the floor or walls".....uh oh! All my pipes are cased in - I thought this was pretty standard in this day and age not to have unsightly pipes trailing all over the bathroom. Has anyone else experienced issues with this and what on earth do i do now? I find it very strange that they won't let you chase pipes in!! Why is this?

I also applied to knock down the wall between the kitchen and sitting room and they have a load of conditions on that, but luckily i haven't started the work.

When they guy from the council came round for an his inspection, he also clocked that the people before us had taken out a chimney breast and not obtained the correct approval, so i now have to apply for retrospective consent for this (something the homebuyers report did not pick up on). Basically the cost of all of this is escalating really quickly and I am regretting having told them about my bathroom at all. I am incurring hundreds of pounds of feeds for all these building permission documents (in addition to all the asbestos reports, structural engineers reports, etc that are being requested).

I know that i shoudn't have started work on the bathroom before getting approval from the council but it was unusable and I couldn't really have showered at work for over 6 months whilst waiting from the unbelievably slow council to get back to me.

Has anyone had any similar problems and can suggest what to do? As I see it i can either go silent and pretend like i've forgotten about the bathroom and hope they don't notice it's been redone :-/ Or i can come clean and tell them that I've already done the work and lump it into the fee I will be paying anyway for retrospective consent for the chimney breast which I didn't know about. Has anyone else actually been forced to undo the work they had done because the council said chased pipes/other things weren't ok?

Sorry for such a long post, I am really frustrated by this whole process and wishing that i bloomin well owned the freehold!!


messageRe: Building alterations nightmare - Southwark council
Posted by sweetgirl 14 June, 2018 14:09

buying leasehold from a council is more hassle than its worth....
ive heard many horror stories from people!

hope you get it sorted.... i know there are tenants associations, i think, where you may be able to get advice

also you may want to google leaseholders forum & see what that comes up with

good luck

messageRe: Building alterations nightmare - Southwark council
Posted by peckham_ryu 14 June, 2018 17:31

If you ignore the request to apply for retrospective approval on the chimney breast, what are they going to do? Would they seriously take court enforcement action to make you rebuild one, at a time when they are scratching around for funds to cover social care etc?

Same with the chasing in of pipes. Although in that case, if you change your bathroom to add some boxing, I do wonder how their inspector would know whether he Boxing actually concealed working pipework or not.

messageRe: Building alterations nightmare - Southwark council
Posted by jayjay100 February 08, 07:27PM

So sorry to read this. THere are many horror stories around leasehold where one guy last year got his 600k flat forfeited as he did not ask permission to chnage his bathroom and kitchen. This is the way landlords can gain and they will not let it go until you pay. Another lady was unable to sell her flat because the landlord did not give permission for works that were done 21 years ago and 4 owners before!!! They were pretty much harraased into selling the flat back to the landlord at a very low price. THey lost over 100k.

Please join the national leasehold campaign on facebook and follow leasehold knowledge partnership. There is alot going on with leasehold currently and people need to understand the vulnerable position leaseholders are in against their freeholders.

Have your say in the group of 12k members.

messageRe: Building alterations nightmare - Southwark council
Posted by rendelharris February 08, 07:51PM

Really sorry to hear about this, we bought our freehold flat mainly because of the ludicrous restrictions and expenses of living in our previous flat on a leasehold estate, it's horrid.

Only a tiny consolation and might not be worth the hassle of pursuing but you would, I would have thought, have a case against the previous owners and/or the surveyors for the costs of applying for the chimney breast removal, it's their fault, not yours.

PR's suggestion of sticking some fake boxing over your chased pipes might be a good idea - if the inspector can tick a box, he'll go away happy.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was february 08, 08:05pm by rendelharris.

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