A final completion certificate is official proof your loft conversion is legal and built to comply with the building regulations. Without this certificate you may find it impossible to sell your home, your insurance will be invalid, and you may have to reverse the work at huge financial cost.
The final completion certificate is pretty much what it sounds like. It is issued by the building control officer following her final inspection. The certificate will only be issued if the BCO is confident the work has been carried out in accordance with the building regulations and to the approved plans.
The certificate is hugely important to you as a homeowner and must be kept safe as it can impact the value of your home and even whether your insurance is valid.
Why do I need a final completion certificate?
It is essential to have this certificate as you will find it next to impossible in the future to sell your property without it and you may even need to remove all the work you have had done.
How do I get a completion certificate?
Since 2013 local authorities have had an obligation to provide completion certificates when the work they inspect complies with the current building regulations.
Your surveyor or building control officer will periodically inspect your loft conversion during the build. He will usually only attend when requested to do so by your builders or at pre-agreed stages of construction.
When the loft conversion is finished the building control officer will make a final inspection and then, if satisfied the work complies with the building regs he will issue your completion certificate.
What happens if I don’t have a building completion certificate?
If you’ve moved into a house and don’t have a certificate or you’ve had a loft conversion or other building work done previously and don’t have a completion certification don’t panic. You can still get hold of the necessary paperwork.
As long as the work was carried out after November 1985, you can apply for regularisation. This is basically a retrospective application for a completion certificate.
You need to contact your local authority and they will guide you through the application process. Be warned, there will be hoops to jump through.
In order to issue a regularisation certificate the council surveyor has to satisfy himself that the work was completed in accordance with the building regulations in place at the time. This is important. The work doesn’t have to comply with the regulations as they stand now – but they must meet the criteria in place when it was built.
However, there is no legal requirement on a local authority to accept requests for a regularisation certificate. It very much depends on the authority and its policies.
Can I sell my house without a completion certificate?
You will find it very difficult. And there is no way you will achieve full market value. Potential buyers will be put off because there is no official proof the loft conversion was carried out competently and legally.
In addition, even if the buyer isn’t too worried about the lack of a completion certificate their bank will be. It will be virtually impossible for the buyer to obtain a mortgage as the lender will not want to take on the risk.
This also applies to you as the homeowner too. If you want to re-mortgage the property and can’t produce a completion certificate the lender is highly likely to refuse your request.
If you’re in this situation it is highly recommended that you apply for a regularisation certificate.
Can I insure my house without a completion certificate?
If you don’t have a completion certificate for your loft conversion your existing home insurance may well be invalid. Your insurance company is unlikely to pay out on any claim without a completion certificate.
When do I receive my completion certificate?
Your loft conversion isn’t officially finished until you receive the final certificate from the local building control office.
Even at this stage there is still the decoration to be done but as far as your builders are concerned once that final certificate is handed over, they have done their job and can be on their way.
The certificate will be issued by the building control officers after they have completed the last of their schedule of site inspections.
At this point the inspector will be looking at a few things.
Obviously he needs to make sure the build is structurally sound. But he will also be checking your loft conversion’s ventilation and thermal insulation. Both of those elements are very important in gaining building regulations approval.
But, one of the main things he will be looking at is fire safety. He’ll ensure that the escape route has been built in accordance with the fire regulations.
He will make sure that the doors all meet the fire resistance standards and that everything has been completed in line with the plans originally submitted as part of the building regulations application way back when your new loft conversion was just a gleam in your eye.
Why that piece of paper is so important
It may not seem to be a big deal but that final completion certificate is a very important piece of paper.
The certificate is official proof that your conversion has been carried out in accordance with the building regulations.
Unauthorised loft conversions
We get so many emails into this site from people who have had unauthorised loft conversions carried out or from prospective house buyers whose sellers can’t produce a final certificate.
In most cases the sale will fall through and could cost the homeowner thousands of pounds. Not only from the lost sale but for the new work needed to bring the loft conversion up to scratch.
Without the final certificate your home insurance will be invalid and it really is not worth going there.
Please re-read the section above where we talk about regularisation certificates if you don’t possess a completion certificate for your loft conversion or other building work.
Don’t leave home without it
It is important that you don’t make your final payment to your builder until that final completion certificate is handed over.
By retaining some money you will have leverage should the building officers insist on any remedial work being done.
Don’t sweat It
Despite all the dire warnings above as long as your project has followed the guidelines laid down in the building regs the final certificate will be issued without drama and you will be the proud owner of a brand new and officially approved loft conversion.
Is a completion certificate the same as a certificate of lawful use?
No, a certificate of lawful use is issued when applying for retrospective planning permission. The completion certificate is only applied in respect of the building regulations.