Adding on to existing house: is this allowed?

Do you want to proceed with the installation of a veranda as an extension? Or maybe you want to proceed with the construction of an overhang? This is subject to certain rules. These rules serve to prevent clutter and nuisance for your neighbours. So you cannot just do as you please. In this article, we will explain which rules apply when adding an extension to an existing house.

Adding on to existing house: do I need to apply for an environmental permit?

Whether you need planning permission to add to an existing house depends on several factors. For example, certain works are subject to a exemption from environmental permit.

In other cases, a mere notification will suffice. Exemption and notification are usually subject to special conditions. If you do not meet these conditions, you will need to submit a permit applications.

The ability to use exemption or notification for adding to an existing dwelling depends on, among other things:

  • The fact whether it is well located spatially sensitive area such as forest or natural areas. Different rules apply in these areas.
  • The location of the property in a subdivision permit. In this case, the subdivision regulations. So always check carefully that your house is not located within a subdivision. This subdivision can impose very specific regulations for the construction of a veranda or canopy.
  • The question of whether the municipality specific rules on adding to an existing house has adopted. These will usually be included in some kind of municipal building code. A good example is the Antwerp Building Code adopted by the City of Antwerp. It includes, for example, specific provisions on the layout of front, side and back gardens.

Find out more about zoned home options here.

How do I know for sure if I am allowed to add on?

It is best to check first with the municipality whether you need a permit to add to an existing house. They will tell you what rules apply to adding a veranda or canopy. In practice, however, this advice does not always turn out to be correct.

Therefore, always leave your question checked by a urban planning lawyer. For example, you may not need to apply for a permit after all. Or that there is still a possibility to add to an existing house, even if the municipality tells you not to.

When can I start the works with a permit?

In principle, a permit is enforceable after 35 days. However, you should take into account some rules.

Here you will find more information on when you may start the works.

What are the penalties for adding to an existing house without planning permission?

In this case, you are committing a construction offence. You may be sanctioned for this. A complaint from neighbours is not required for this, but may be the reason for it. The police will draw up an official report for this. Officials of the Flemish Region or the municipality can also do this.

Fines can be steep depending on the situation. The legal maximum is a administrative fine of €400,000 or €2,000,000. What maximum applies depends on the type of construction violation. The exact amount of the fine cannot be predicted exactly. Without a required permit or notification, fines can easily reach several thousand euros. In some cases, you may even risk criminal prosecution.

Learn more about the consequences of a construction violation on your property here.

What other risks do I face if I do not apply for a permit or notification?

You may also be sentenced to demolition. Or to carry out adjustment works. This is separate from any sanctioning. The municipality or neighbours can always claim this before the civil court. The municipality can even impose this in certain cases without having to go to court.

Moreover, the unlicensed addition to an existing house leads to a depreciation of your property. After all, the buyer can use this to influence the price. You also run the risk of encountering problems yourself later if you have to repair the veranda extension. If you do this again without a permit or notification, you may be committing a new building infringement. You may be sanctioned for this again. Even if the porch extension has already expired.

Read more about buying property with a construction violation and the possibility of regularising a construction violation here.

Do you have plans to expand your property? Suggest here your questions.

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