Planning Tip #2: Don't build a new house. Utilise something existing

I know that you are dreaming of your lovely new house and my advice not to build goes against this but hear me out…

It’s becoming apparent the Local Authorities across Ireland do not want you to build a new house. They are making it very difficult for new houses to be built for a whole host or reasons; from soil percolation to road safety to obtrusiveness – the bottom line is that Local Authorities will do everything they can and use whatever reasons they can to stop you from building a new house.

So what do you do? let’s look at the second part of the Title: ‘Utilise something existing’.

You will stand a much better chance of getting planning permission if you are working on an existing property. If that property has an existing access, a septic tank and was lived in fairly recently then you’re laughing (more or less).

So this means you should be looking at refurbishing or extending an existing property.

Yes but I hear you say; I want a brand new, sparkly house. Yes but don’t forget 2 key things:

1. You can transform the house at the same time into something that looks completely different from the original. There are stacks of examples where we have done this in the PROJECTS section of the website


2. You could extensively demolish parts of the house in order to create the accommodation that you require (bear in mind the disclaimer below). Remember that if you are working with an existing house then you have a head start in terms of planning. It still won’t be easy and there’s no guarantees but at least it gives you a bit of help.

Comments welcome…


All advice online is remote from the situation and cannot be relied upon as a defence or support – in and of itself – should legal action be taken. Competent legal and building professionals should be asked to advise in Real Life with rights to inspect and issue reports on the matters at hand.

It is an offence to carry out any work that requires planning permission and the offence can carry very heavy fines and imprisonment. You can find out whether your work requires planning permission via a Section 5 Declaration to the Local Authority

It is an offence to demolish a habitable house without planning permission. A habitable house includes a structure which was last used as a dwelling even if it is now in an unliveable condition. It also includes a building where the last permitted use was as a house, even if it has been in unauthorised use since. A derelict or run down building previously used as a habitable house, is still a habitable house.

It is an offence for a person to carry out either works or a Material Change of Use to which the Building Regulations apply without notifying the Building Control Authority via a Commencement Notice. The notice must be given to the authority not more than 28 days and not less than 14 days before the commencement of works or the change of use. Once validated by the building control authority, works must commence on site within the 28 day period.

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