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Planning Issues for Self Contained Annexes

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 1 Apr 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Annex Self-contained Annexes Extension

A self-contained annex is a popular reason for building an extension. Building one can give teenagers and young adults a chance to live independently but have the security of being close to home.

The same benefits apply to annexes that provide accommodation for elderly or disabled relatives. Or sometimes they are built to provide accommodation for live-in nannies, au pairs or long-term guests.

Take Care When Planning an Annex

But there are a few things you have to be careful about when planning a self-contained annex to make sure that it’s not treated as a separate dwelling. It’s a confusing area and much of the advice is contradictory. You will need to take advice about your specific property and plans.

There are two main issues, council tax and planning. The planners will take into account the use the extension is to be put to when deciding whether or not the annex should be treated as a separate property. But the council won’t, they will base their decision purely on the construction of the extension.

So here we’ll try and make sense of some of the guidelines, but we must emphasise the importance of getting advice from the planners and the council before embarking on the building of the extension. Let’s take the council first.

Council Approach to Self-Contained Annexes

The council will be assessing whether or not they should be charging your annex for council tax as through it were a separate property. To do this they will look at the physical layout of the extension, the access and the facilities.

If the accommodation is all in one area, not split around different areas of the original property, they would not treat it as a separate property. But then that would be useless as a self-contained annex so it’s not really a solution. If the annex has a complete set of equipment for living (cooking and bathing facilities as well as living and sleeping) then the council are more likely to treat it as a separate property. So that would include most annexes.

Access to self-contained annexes used to be an important factor but most councils are down-playing it now. Many council websites state that an annex does not have to have its own entrance to be considered self-contained for the purposes of council tax. In the past people would keep an access door into the house from the annex to prevent it from being treated as a separate property but that would no longer seem to apply.

Planning Position on Annexes

From the planning point of view the approach is slightly different and has changed recently, so again it’s wise to get up-to-date advice. Usage is taken into account as to whether planning permission is required.

For example an extension providing an annexe for an elderly relative who makes frequent use of the lounge in the main property would not require planning permission. On the other hand, the very same extension, if rented out to an eighteen-year-old student who was not related and had their own car, would.

Use the Right Words When Planning

If you do need to apply for planning permission for the annex, not because it’s an annex but because it’s a particular size, or because of the rules in your area, then you can describe it as an extension in all the documentation. Avoiding the word ‘annex’ in your planning documentation won’t necessarily stop the council assessing it as a separate property but calling it one almost certainly will.

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[Add a Comment]
Linda - Your Question:
Hi we have recently built a double garage with home office over and obtained the relevant planning permission. I am now thinking it won’t be used much and is so big we could convert to living accommodation for my daughter on her return from uni. Do I need to get planning permission again for change of use from home office to living quarters ? I am also thinking I might be able to rent it out with air b n b. Would this also be an issue ?

Our Response:
If you are going to be adding facilities likea bathroom or kitchen, you may need planning for change of use. The easiest thing to do is ask your planning officer, they will give you advice on this free of charge.
ExtensionBuild - 4-Apr-18 @ 11:30 AM
Hi we have recently built a double garage with home office over and obtained the relevant planning permission. I am now thinking it won’t be used much and is so big we could convert to living accommodation for my daughter on her return from uni. Do I need to get planning permission again for change of use from home office to living quarters ? I am also thinking I might be able to rent it out with air b n b. Would this also be an issue ?
Linda - 1-Apr-18 @ 2:45 PM
Hi. I would like to get some advise on the following. I have a basement thst is converted into an annex with kitchen, bathroom, living area with a shared door to the utility room with the house and it also has its entrance. The sbared door also leads to the kitchen via staircase. I have planning permission butthe council has just send me a letter that they want a site visit to see that the annex is used ancillary to the main dwelling and not independently. What does this mean? Does it matter who lives there? Thanks.
Anna - 7-Mar-18 @ 8:22 PM
Overtaxed? - Your Question:
Hi, To clarify we are trying to find out what modifications we can make (if any) so that VOA don't think we have an annexe. Hopefully we can make these without planning but not sure if we need building control. Thanks

Our Response:
Usually if it can't be "let" separately (i.e no kitchen) then you wouldn't have to pay Council tax. Building control permission is usually only needed for structural changes etc. Bricking up your external door might not be an option because of building control, but if there's an open arch way/ or double french doors etc into the bit they are classing as an annex. Then no kitchen or bedroom,it's quite clear that you aren't using it as such. It might be worth asking a valuation or planning consultant for specific help.
ExtensionBuild - 5-Mar-18 @ 12:51 PM
Hi, To clarify we are trying to find out what modifications we can make (if any) so that VOA don't think we have an annexe. Hopefully we can make these without planning but not sure if we need building control. Thanks
Overtaxed? - 2-Mar-18 @ 11:27 AM
Overtaxed? - Your Question:
Hi, We have an area of our house that has an external door and a doorway from the kitchen. Upon purchasing the kitchen doorway was locked and bricked up, both door and bricks have been removed. The area was a kitchen/bathroom/bedroom & lounge. We thought we could convert to Utility/Cloakroom/Study/Snug but council think otherwise. What do we need to do to make the conversion in the eyes of the council. They will not tell us and will not even answer questions such as "what if I brick up the back door?" Any advice would be appreciated thanks.

Our Response:
Is this a question for council tax purposes? Planning? Building Control? Sorry it's a bit unclear.
ExtensionBuild - 28-Feb-18 @ 1:58 PM
Hi, We have an area of our house that has an external door and a doorway from the kitchen. Upon purchasing the kitchen doorway was locked and bricked up, both door and bricks have been removed. The area was a kitchen/bathroom/bedroom & lounge. We thought we could convert to Utility/Cloakroom/Study/Snug but council think otherwise. What do we need to do to make the conversion in the eyes of the council. They will not tell us and will not even answer questions such as "what if I brick up the back door?"Any advice would be appreciated thanks.
Overtaxed? - 27-Feb-18 @ 11:11 AM
Hi ive just bought a house and want to build an annex in the garden but have no idea where to start. Can you please help and advise me. Thank you
Marian - 4-Jan-18 @ 5:47 PM
Hi there ive recently bought a house that the previous owner said that one part of her barn had planning on it for a annex im wanting to turn it into a annex but dont no where to start could you help me with this.
Kim - 22-Dec-17 @ 10:53 PM
We are thinking of converting a part of our house into a self contained studio flat to rent out but we have no idea where to start?
Kez - 19-Dec-17 @ 11:30 PM
Hi there, just looking for some advice please... My family and I have been living in a self contained annex on my in-law's land for over a year now and we're thinking we would quite like to extend the annex in the next year or so. One of the issues is that technically my in-laws live i a flat, it's a large house split into two. My question is, would we need to get planning permission to extend? Thanks in advance!
woodlandwonderer - 22-Nov-17 @ 9:52 AM
Does anyone know if councils allow the build of a granny annex in the garden of a council property? It is a very large garden and would not infringe on anyone's privacy.
Hopeful - 20-Oct-17 @ 4:34 PM
Reb - Your Question:
Hi,I wonder if you could advise me, we recently moved into my father's house and converted his garage/barn into a place for him (kitchen/bath/bed) it is separate to the house but runs off all our supplies so we pay the bills.He built it over 20 years ago and I'm pretty sure never got any planning. What should we do? and is he aloud to live there? Also we are obviously paying council tax for the house, but do we need to do anything more Council Tax?Very much appreciate your feedback and thoughtsThanks

Our Response:
You will need to check with your planning department if it's now used for residential purposes as that constitutes a change of use. If an annex or outbuilding is self-contained with its own living area as well as cooking and washing facilities/toilet even if it shares common services with a main building, is still liable for council tax. So you will need to pay separate council tax on the coverted barn. Discounts may be applicable if your father is a pensioner etc
ExtensionBuild - 17-Oct-17 @ 11:39 AM
tonyuk - Your Question:
HiI am planning to buy a property for buy to let, it has good size garden where you can build 2 annex 20 x14ft size, but then there will be very small part of garden left.Can you please let me know how much garden you have to leave for house if you build annex?Thanks

Our Response:
You should contact your local plannign authority about this.In general, no more than 50% of the area of land around the original house should be taken up by other buildings. You will need planning permission for any change of use (eg if these buildings were for residential use rather an simple a garden office etc).
ExtensionBuild - 17-Oct-17 @ 11:15 AM
Hi, I wonder if you could advise me, we recently moved into my father's house and converted his garage/barn into a place for him (kitchen/bath/bed) it is separate to the house but runs off all our supplies so we pay the bills. He built it over 20 years ago and I'm pretty sure never got any planning. What should we do? and is he aloud to live there? Also we are obviously paying council tax for the house, but do we need to do anything more Council Tax? Very much appreciate your feedback and thoughts Thanks
Reb - 16-Oct-17 @ 12:13 PM
Hi I am planning to buy a property for buy to let, it has good size garden where you can build 2 annex 20 x14ftsize, but then there will be very small part of garden left. Can you please let me know how much garden you have to leave for house if you build annex? Thanks
tonyuk - 16-Oct-17 @ 11:44 AM
Hi, my wife and I are considering building a annex/bungalow/what ever other name you can think of, for her disabled mum. It would just be bedroom, shower room, and lounge kitchen. My garden is a good 30m long so I have the room. What do you think is best? Because we would be caring for her also. Thank you
Sid - 15-Oct-17 @ 9:08 AM
If I build a self-contained annexe for rental. What is the minimum area, and does it have to have a garden ? Thanks for any help
Giggsy - 13-Oct-17 @ 6:15 PM
Gabyfallonos - Your Question:
Me and my partner are interested in building a ‘log cabin’ in his childhood home garden, which is quite long and fitting for it. The whole do you need/don’t you need planning permission is really confusing! It’s purpose is to allow us to live together and save for a family home so I’m guessing it would require some type of permission how would I go about this?

Our Response:
Yes this would need permission if you plan on living in it. If you contact the planning department of your local council, they will be able to tell you how to apply.
ExtensionBuild - 13-Oct-17 @ 11:38 AM
Me and my partner are interested in building a ‘log cabin’ in his childhood home garden, which is quite long and fitting for it. The whole do you need/don’t you need planning permission is really confusing! It’s purpose is to allow us to live together and save for a family home so I’m guessing it would require some type of permission how would I go about this?
Gabyfallonos - 12-Oct-17 @ 2:19 AM
Simes - Your Question:
We have horse stabling at the bottom of our garden and use the fields behind to graze horses.Our existing drive way from the front of the house terminates at an old prefab garage (at one side of the house)Would we need Planning to remove this garage (it is not original to house) and extend our drive to the stables (about 100 metres down the bottom of garden)We live in a semi rural/urban area in MaidstoneCannot find any information about this on the web.

Our Response:
It's likely that this would be considered change of use and are creating a direct access that we assume wasn't there previously. Your planning officer will be able to tell you (free of charge) whether or not you need to apply for planning permission.
ExtensionBuild - 6-Oct-17 @ 2:29 PM
We have horse stabling at the bottom of our garden and use the fields behind to graze horses. Our existing drive way from the front of the house terminates at an old prefab garage (at one side of the house) Would we need Planning to remove this garage (it is not original to house) and extend our drive to the stables (about 100 metres down the bottom of garden) We live in a semi rural/urban area in Maidstone Cannot find any information about this on the web.
Simes - 4-Oct-17 @ 4:12 PM
Hi, I am in the process of buying a property which has a detached annex. It's previously been described as an annex in 2014 when it was sold to the current vendors but on the current description it's a garden studio! My question is do I need planning permission to knock the "studio" down and build a new annex (for my parents to live) or should I add to the existing building? Thanks
Andrew - 25-Aug-17 @ 10:59 AM
JAY- Your Question:
Hi, I bought a property in 1998 with a seperate detached brick built bungalow, seperate kitchen and bathroom that was previously converted in 1986 to a "granny annexe". We have always had to pay seperate council tax on it, although weve mainly used it only for the kids. I wished to rent it out to my oldest son, or sell it to him as he has just been made homeless from a long term let in Brighton, yet Ive been informed by the council I cannot charge rent on it, due to the fact its use is ancillary to the home, and its a granny annexe, regardless of the fact we pay rent on it. We are looking at selling it as a seperate dwelling to him now but how easy is it to split it from the deeds and what type of change of use do I need to obtain?

Our Response:
Contact your planning department and find out whether you need to apply for "change of use" permission.
ExtensionBuild - 8-Aug-17 @ 12:55 PM
Hi, i bought a property in 1998 with a seperate detached brick built bungalow, seperate kitchen and bathroom that was previously converted in 1986 to a "granny annexe" . We have always had to pay seperate council tax on it, although weve mainly used it only for the kids. I wished to rent it out to my oldest son, or sell it to him as he has just been made homeless from a long term let in Brighton, yet Ive been informed by the council I cannot charge rent on it, due to the fact its use is ancillary to the home, and its a granny annexe, regardless of the fact we pay rent on it. We are looking at selling it as a seperate dwelling to him now but how easy is it to split it from the deeds and what type of change of use do i need to obtain?
JAY - 6-Aug-17 @ 12:05 PM
Lynda - Your Question:
Hi my mother passed 4 weeks ago she lived in an extension that we had built on the side of the house we also had a bedroom built with en suite above the extension me my husband and 3 children live in the main house my daughter will eventually be moving into the extension which is not detached and has a connecting door the ext has a bathroom bedroom kitchen and living area. We have received a council tax bill demanding a payment which is dated from the date mum died. We could never sell it as a separate building as it is an extension which is written all over the plans which were approved in 2004 will we need to rip all the rooms out? I am so disgusted as a care home would have cost the council thousands please advise

Our Response:
The Council tax rule can refer to properties that can be "let" as a separated entity not just "sold" separately.The fact that the annexe shares common services, or cannot be sold on its own does not prevent it being self-contained. Council tax is most likely payable. The occupier of the annexe is usually responsible for payment, but if the annexe is unoccupied, the owner of the main house is repsonsible. There are certain exemptions and you should contact your council to find out more about these, but sometimes they can include an exemption if the annexe is unoccupied there is an exemption (Class T) available if it cannot be let separately from the main dwelling without breaching planning conditions. (An exemption also applied if a dependent person aged 65 or more is living there).
ExtensionBuild - 4-Aug-17 @ 2:53 PM
Hi my mother passed 4 weeks ago she lived in an extension that we had built on the side of the house we also had a bedroom built with en suite above the extension me my husband and 3 children live in the main house my daughter will eventually be moving into the extension which is not detached and has a connecting door the ext has a bathroom bedroom kitchen and living area. We have received a council tax bill demanding a payment which is dated from the date mum died. We could never sell it as a separate building as it is an extension which is written all over the plans which were approved in 2004 will we need to rip all the rooms out? I am so disgusted as a care home would have cost the council thousands please advise
Lynda - 2-Aug-17 @ 10:20 PM
We have bought a property with our son, every thing done correctly with deed of trust in place. Included in the property is a detached coach house with planning permission already in place to demolish and build a three bedroom town house. How do we proceed with removing it from the title deeds of the main property , will the mortgage company object and will it affect the value when and if separated . Sorry confused?
Elle - 9-Jul-17 @ 3:10 PM
So... this is a minefield isn't it? Anyway you do this the council will just want to find money.Our story is a little different, we built a small two bed cottage 15 years ago, because we worked away and to ensure my parents lived in a reasonably comfortable home we asked them to live there (at no cost) when we finally decided to settle down we went to our council to ask to build an extension which would allow us to live next door to my parents and not ask them to go into care, effectively we would end up being their carers - doing what you do to look after your parents (isn't this what the government wants? taking the burden away from social care????).Anyway the extension would mean the second bedroom would be a bedroom for our son (or possibly ours).We were told by the council that it can not be classed as two dwellings, we had to knock a door through the building so we all lived together..... ok. Revenues man came hounding, intimidating, did not say who he was and what he wanted whilst building works was still under way, We share the same oil, same electric, same water, we did leave their kitchen in to give them some bit of independence, however whether the kitchen was there or not they would class it as two separate dwellings (revenues office) aaaaaaa. I was then told to write a letter to say that the new extension was an annex as we would get a discount - now they say there will be no discount as my parents will continue to live in the original building whilst we live in the extension (same size but more modern which suits our taste) oh my gosh...... I'm sorry, but what do we do, I feel aggrieved to think we have to pay two council tax bands when they specifically told us we could not class it as two dwellings, we have no rent from my parents even though they live in our house which we built rent free and we are looking after them so they do not go into social housing - is this fair?? I feel sick, working hard to save all of our life, living somewhere to care for my parents but having to pay another set of rates - we live in the country so have no services such as bus or street lights etc. Why can't the orgiginal house be classed as the annex as it's now a one bedroom home to house two 84 year olds???? Even a 50% reduction would make a little difference - unbelievable. It is not clear at all! It's pretty disgusting.
Aaaa - 22-Mar-17 @ 6:01 PM
Hi there, I am planning to do side extension i.e., already a living room exists and want to extend at the rear of the living room by 3m(with a separate bathroom and kitchen). I know that a planning permission and building reqs are required for the side extensions. But can you please advise me with this plan how can I make this bit as legal thing and don't want to get into trouble with the council guys? Thanks, Sid
Sid - 31-Jan-17 @ 5:25 PM
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Latest Comments
  • Curious
    Re: When is an Annexe Not an Annexe?
    My friend has kindly offered the opportunity for my daughter and I to build a log cabin on her land for us to permanently…
    22 April 2018
  • Phil
    Re: When is an Annexe Not an Annexe?
    I have a room over my garage which is accessed via the shared utility room. The garage and utility room are linked to the…
    21 April 2018
  • Elliot81
    Re: When is an Annexe Not an Annexe?
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    19 April 2018
  • ExtensionBuild
    Re: When is an Annexe Not an Annexe?
    coco - Your Question:My husband and I are planning to apply for planning permission to knock down our existing house and my…
    11 April 2018
  • ExtensionBuild
    Re: Keeping in With the Neighbours
    Daggie - Your Question:My neighbour has built a garage right next to my garage therefore now making my property link detached. I…
    11 April 2018
  • ExtensionBuild
    Re: When is an Annexe Not an Annexe?
    Hedgehog - Your Question:Question.We own a house with an attached annexe (previously our garage).The annexe was separated on…
    9 April 2018
  • coco
    Re: When is an Annexe Not an Annexe?
    My husband and I are planning to apply for planning permission to knock down our existing house and my daughter and her…
    8 April 2018
  • Daggie
    Re: Keeping in With the Neighbours
    My neighbour has built a garage right next to my garage therefore now making my property link detached. I cannot maintain my…
    8 April 2018
  • Hedgehog
    Re: When is an Annexe Not an Annexe?
    Question. We own a house with an attached annexe (previously our garage). The annexe was separated on the land registry by…
    7 April 2018
  • ExtensionBuild
    Re: Planning Issues for Self Contained Annexes
    Linda - Your Question:Hi we have recently built a double garage with home office over and obtained the relevant…
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