Philippa Rudd - EDP Property Column. Barn conversions

I have always loved barn conversions and I am viewing a few soon. Are there any legal issues that I should be aware of, before I commit myself to buy one?

There are a number of points that should be checked once you have found your ideal barn.  Your solicitor will need to check that all conditions attached to the planning permission for the conversion have been complied with and likewise your solicitor will check the building regulation paperwork - in particular he or she will ensure that a completion certificate has been issued. If the barn is listed, you will need to ensure that Listed Building Consent has been obtained for the conversion works and any other works. Also, you should ask for details about the drainage system and access. 

What questions should I ask about the drainage please? I know nothing about drains!  Likewise, what should I ask about access?

Barns often have private drainage systems rather than being connected to the public sewer.  You should ask what type of drainage system the barn has, where it is located, who maintains it, how many properties use the system and the average annual costs. As regards access, if there is shared access I suggest you ask who owns the access way, who else uses it, who maintains it and if there have been any maintenance costs recently. Also, your solicitor will check the title deeds to ensure that all necessary easements exist for access and drainage and to ensure that any restrictive covenants have been complied with. The water search will reveal whether or not the property is connected to the water mains. If not, enquiries should be raised regarding the supply.

Will I need to have a survey?

If you are having a mortgage, the mortgage company will carry out a basic valuation. You may wish to pay for a more detailed survey report. If you are not having a mortgage, a survey is always advisable. The estate agent or your solicitor will be able to recommend a surveyor.  There may an architect’s certificate which confirms that the property has been inspected at regular intervals during the conversion.



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