News – Planning facts to help you build a home in the back garden

Fast facts

1 When you are given a piece of land, you need to register your ownership with the Land Registry.

2 Talk to your solicitor to avoid falling foul of tax laws. Parents could transfer the land into trust to retain some control and avoid the land being sold on. this may also assist with tax planning. See for information.

3 Before applying for planning consent, talk to the neighbours. A friendly and open relationship means less potential for objections or disputes before building gets underway.

4 Ask for a pre-application discussion.A council planning officer will look at your plans, however sketchy, highlight any unsuitable parts and offer advice.

5 Where overlooking may be a problem, consider innovative design: dig down to create a basement rather than build a second storey that will tower over your neighbours garden.

6 Make sure you include space for parking and a private garden: many planners have strict guidelines about how much garden space a property requires, and your parents’ garden may simply be too small.

Expert views

Richard Brookes, of the planning consultancy DPP: “Planning officers have to decide what impact the proposed building has on the character and appearance of the area, whether there is enough space for additional cars and the impact of extra traffic. They’ll examine issues such as additional light and noise, the impact on local trees and whether the new property will invade the privacy of the neighbours. And you have to think about what happens if the parents sell up. You not only have to consider existing objections but potential complaints from neighbours who don’t even exist yet.”

Hayden Bailey, a tax solicitor with Boodle Hatfield: “This area can be fraught with difficulties. Where a gift of land is made, you should take advice to ensure the gift does not give rise to a capital gains tax charge – for example, if the land falls outside the principal private residence exemption. There is also the danger that the gift will not be effective for inheritance tax if the parents are not excluded from all future benefits of the land, which can be difficult to define. There are usually ways of avoiding these risks but the key is to take advice early.You should tell your solicitor your plans in great detail so they can make sure you don’t run into these problems.”