The Building (Scotland) Act 2003 and it’s predecessor, the Building (Scotland) Act 1959 both contain a requirement that a Building Warrant is granted prior to any building or demolition work being undertaken. However, the Service often finds itself being requested to assist owners, who are having difficulty selling their property due to unauthorised alterations having been carried out, often by previous owners. The process for dealing with such circumstances is known as a ‘letter of comfort’
The consideration of unauthorised works is categorised by date. Works completed before or after 1 May 2005
Only works completed before 1 May 2005 will be considered for a ‘letter of comfort’, (please use the form Application for a Property Inspection Service). However, an application falling within this category is only accepted at the discretion of the Authority, as there are cases that may not be appropriate for the ‘letter of comfort’ process. When accepted, a non-disruptive inspection of the work will be carried out with regard to the Health and Safety of people in and around the building. If considered appropriate, a letter stating that the department does not intend to take statutory action in respect of the unauthorised works will be issued. Please note that the inspection may result in the need for remedial works to be undertaken prior to the ‘letter of comfort’ being issued. Failure to do so may result in statutory action being taken by the Authority. For works completed after 1 May 2005, or rejected as inappropriate for a ‘letter of comfort’ a Completion Certificate where no Building Warrant Obtained should be submitted.
This letter normally satisfies all parties involved in conveyancing and remortgaging transactions etc.
Anyone with an interest in a property. This includes owners, prospective owners, conveyancing solicitors etc., provided that the owner has given their permission to allow access for inspection.
Application can be made by yourself or your agent on the appropriate ‘letter of comfort’ property inspection application form, available to download below, or from any of our area offices. The form requests the following information:
- Your name, address and daytime contact telephone number and the same details of agent (if applicable)
- Address of building where works have been carried out
- Specific details of nature of completed works e.g. extension to rear of dwelling house to form an additional bedroom etc.
- The date when the works were completed (if unknown then estimate)
A declaration then has to be signed agreeing to the inspection of works and acknowledging that you may have to expose any necessary elements of the work. Please note that if information supplied is found to be false any ‘letter of comfort’ issued will be rendered void. After your application has been registered, a Surveyor from Building Standards will contact you within 20 days to arrange an inspection of the property.
The majority of building works, whether it is to a domestic or commercial property are covered by this procedure and examples include: Internal alterations, extensions, loft-conversions, removal of walls etc. It should be noted however, an application relating to the sub-division of a dwelling house is an example where drawings may be required to be submitted and processed at the applicant’s expense.
Building Standards recognises that, due to the nature of property sales/ purchases, a ‘letter of comfort’ is often not requested until the very last minute. To assist our customers, the Service has performance targets for responding to a request for an inspection of works carried out without the necessary consent. These targets, and performance against targets, are available on request. On completion of a satisfactory inspection, including where remedial works have been requested, a ‘letter of comfort’ will be issued. Again, targets and performance against these targets are available on request.
A fee of £350.00 plus an additional charge based on the current cost of works, as noted on the Building Warrant Fee Guidance Document, is charged for each application for a property inspection.
The application should be accompanied by a cheque for the required amount made payable to ‘Argyll & Bute Council’. The service is limited to a single inspection. A further fee of £175.00 is required for each additional inspection.