Legal Q&A: Can I add an en suite to my top-floor flat?

My two-bedroom maisonette covers the top two floors of a four-storey Edwardian terrace house and I would like to add an en suite in the corner of my master bedroom. Do I need to get planning permission or consent from the freeholder?
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Question: I have a mortgage on a two-bedroom maisonette that covers the top two floors of a four-storey Edwardian terrace house. There is only one other flat in the house, covering the lower ground and ground floor.
My master bedroom, which is on the top floor, is large and I would like to build an en suite in the corner. I’ve been told I don’t need planning permission, but what about Building Regulations? Do I also need to get the freeholder’s permission? They wanted to charge a huge fee last year when I approached them about other work, so I would rather keep them out of it, if I can.
Answer: Building Regulations are concerned with design and construction — particularly with the health and safety of people in and around buildings. Generally, the construction of a new en suite bathroom will require Building Regulations consent. The onus is on you as the owner of the maisonette, and also on the person carrying out the work, to ensure regulations are complied with.
Consider the terms of your lease carefully to see if you will require the freeholder’s prior written consent. If such consent is necessary, the lease is also likely to say that the freeholder’s consent should not be unreasonably withheld. You are, however, likely to have to pay the freeholder’s surveying and legal fees for dealing with your request. You will also have to provide the freeholder with plans for them and their surveyor to consider.
As you have a mortgage, you should notify your lender of the works you intend to do and you should obtain the lender’s written consent, if appropriate.

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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona is a Legal Director in the private wealth group of Foot Anstey LLP in Exeter.
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.

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