Home > Planning > Planning Issues for Self Contained Annexes

Planning Issues for Self Contained Annexes

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 22 Nov 2017 | 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
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
We are making plans to extend our house by one room off the kitchen which would be used as an extra living room/ snug as our main living room is on the middle floor, but if my 90 year old Grandad needed extra help then this would quickly be converted to his living area with a wet room added on into the garage. Would we need planning permission and would this effect our council tax?? he would have direct access to our kitchen but we would fit a kitchen sink/ kettle/ microwave. Any advice would be greatly appreciated
kiki - 29-Jan-17 @ 3:15 PM
Hello, I am just about to exchange contracts on a property in the lake district that also has a separate annexe (already converted) that I wanted to set up as a holiday let. However, just today I have been made aware of a planning condition that exists on the annexe that says it can only be used for accommodation 'ancillary to the main house' (that would be our family home). I have never heard of this before. The estate agent is saying that we shouldn't be worried and that we'd easily get the planning condition removed after completion and that a change of use for a holiday let would be just a routine application. But I think there should be some negotiation before we proceed any further. There are lots of holiday lets in Cumbria but I am unsure now if I should proceed with the offer I put forward (because of the risk) or pull out altogether just in case - the holiday let would be our only source of income.Any help gratefully received.
Gideon - 12-Jan-17 @ 4:56 PM
Thanks. Yes council tax was charged 6 months so we are paying 2 council taxes. Nothing was said about did you get planning but obviously that was the next step to find out. My husband friend is saying if we take the kitchen out I.e the cooker and extractor it should be ok. But it still has separate entrance and kitchen units etc.... don't know what we should do I think best thing is to.leave and see what they say they are coming tomorrow.
Sophie - 9-Jan-17 @ 8:20 PM
Sophie - Your Question:
We bought a house with an extention in place. We blocked off the walls and turned it into a self contained unit to rent out with separate kitchen, bathroom and entrance from the back. We did not apply for planning permission as we really didn't know but now someone from council coming to inspect. What will happen from this could we now be able to apply for planning permission without taking it out? Any advice or guidance will help.

Our Response:
The council's planning department will be able to tell you what the options are. You may have to apply retrospectively for planning permission and await the decision before either carrying on as before or reinstating the building to its previous state. Your council tax will also be affected by this.
ExtensionBuild - 9-Jan-17 @ 2:35 PM
We bought a house with an extention in place. We blocked off the walls and turned it into a self contained unit to rent out with separate kitchen, bathroom and entrance from the back. We did not apply for planning permission as we really didn't know but now someone from council coming to inspect. What will happen from this could we now be able to apply for planning permission without taking it out? Any advice or guidance will help.
Sophie - 7-Jan-17 @ 9:18 PM
i am thinking of buying a house with an attached garage and a door into a 20foot by 8foot extension which at present is used as an office. it could be made into a mini flat with shower room and bed in garage area and small kitchen and living space in the extension area. what are planning implications and would it be liable for a separate council ta. thanks. sue
sue - 29-Dec-16 @ 11:07 PM
Rosh - Your Question:
I have recently applied planning permission to use my outbuilding as a annex but council refused the planning permission. They were saying it is separate unit not a annex as I had a electric hub installed before. It was already removed and reapplied for planning. The council again change my planning heading from Habitable Use to self contained unit. Can you please advise me how do I approach. I am truly stressed.

Our Response:
We can't advise on specific individual planning case where we don't have the full details. You may be better seeking the advice of a planning consultant.
ExtensionBuild - 20-Sep-16 @ 2:13 PM
I have recently applied planning permission to use my outbuilding as a annex but council refused the planning permission. They were saying it is separate unit not a annex as I had a electric hub installed before. It was already removed and reapplied for planning. The council again change my planning heading from Habitable Use to self contained unit. Can you please advise me how do I approach. I am truly stressed.
Rosh - 18-Sep-16 @ 11:23 PM
Alexa- Your Question:
I'm at my wits end in N Ireland I have a stand alone double garage My mum and dad are elderly mum has went into a wheelchair full time and there house isn't suitable They would need to start knocking lots of walls down as corridors to every room are not wide enough for wheelchair and in most rooms the wheelchair could not be turnedHence we thought if we made the garage into a bedroom lounge shower room and small kitchen mum could use her wheelchair plus we would be at hand to help as both parents are not to wellThe architect put in a change of use and small extension but have not joined it to the house as no 1 it would take up a lot of space trying to join it as it couldn't be squared off plus if it was joined it would mean half the house mum could use and the other half wouldn't be wheel chair friendly plus it's nice to have your own spaceThe planning asked for medical reasons and why we couldn't build up so I got them letters from doctors ministers etc who said it was getting dangerous for mum as she was falling without her chair and reason why we can't build up is because there is no where in the hall we could put stirs never mind a wheel chair lift and now they have come back saying why does it have to be in your house that care is given and can you prove it a hardship if we were turned down I don't know where to turn to and in fact what more I can do. We are not asking the government for any money they are willing to use the sale of the house the extension is looking into our own property at the back garden Can anyone tell me where I can turn to or what else I can do. I'm totally gutted it has been going on a year and I think plans keep moving the goal posts I haven't told mum and dad yet as I know they are depressed waiting for the planning to come through myself and my husband are having to travel 10mile round trip daily to do things for them

Our Response:
Clearly the council is reluctant to provide planning permission for this. You should contact social services and ask them what the alternatives are to keep your mother safe and cared for. They may be able to support your case or offer some alternative suggsetions.
ExtensionBuild - 15-Sep-16 @ 12:47 PM
I'm at my wits end in N IrelandI have a stand alone double garage My mum and dad are elderly mum has went into a wheelchair full time and there house isn't suitable They would need to start knocking lots of walls down as corridors to every room are not wide enough for wheelchair and in most rooms the wheelchair could not be turned Hence we thought if we made the garage intoa bedroom lounge shower room and small kitchen mum could use her wheelchair plus we would be at hand to help as both parents are not to well The architect put in a change of use and small extension but have not joined it to the house as no 1 it would take up a lot of space trying to join it as it couldn't be squared off plus if it was joined it would mean half the house mum could use and the other half wouldn't be wheel chair friendly plus it's nice to have your own space The planning asked for medical reasons and why we couldn't build up so I got them letters from doctors ministers etc who said it was getting dangerous for mum as she was falling without her chair and reason why we can't build up is because there is no where in the hall we could put stirs never mind a wheel chair lift and now they have come back saying why does it have to be in your house that care is given and can you prove it a hardship if we were turned down I don't know where to turn to and in fact what more I can do. We are not asking the government for any money they are willing to use the sale of the housethe extension is looking into our own property at the back garden Can anyone tell me where I can turn to or what else I can do. I'm totally gutted it has been going on a year and I think plans keep moving the goal posts I haven't told mum and dad yet as I know they are depressed waiting for the planning to come throughmyself and my husband are having to travel 10mile round trip daily to do things for them
Alexa - 14-Sep-16 @ 12:58 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ExtensionBuild website. Please read our Disclaimer.