Alterations Generally

If you are planning to carry out any works to your flat you may need one or more of the consents explained below. They are important. If you don’t get the right consent, you will have a problem selling your flat – quite apart from risking enforcement action from the Corporation if they find out. My ‘Unapproved Alterations’ page in the ‘Buying’ section will tell you what consents are required for particular works – e.g. renovating the bathroom or replacing kitchen units.

Listed building consent

It can be a criminal offence to carry out work requiring listed building consent without authority, so consult a surveyor or check with the Corporation before going ahead.

Landlord’s consent

Under the terms of your lease, you have to get written permission from the Barbican Estate Office before carrying out any alterations which affect the structure (including any fixings to walls) or any alterations to the kitchen and bathroom. You should send them a description of the proposed works and a ‘before and after’ sketch plan or drawing. You’ll need a ‘licence’ approving the works before you start; and a letter after the works are completed approving the way they were done.

Building regulation consent

You may also need Building Regulations Approval from Building Control at the Corporation. Their role is to check that work is carried out properly. If Building Regulations Approval is required, you must get a letter from them when the works have been completed, confirming they comply with building regulations.

Retrospective consent

If when you come to sell, it turns out that you don’t have the necessary consents – e.g. you didn’t get consent when you took out your Garchey or when you laid wood flooring – then you will have to get ‘retrospective consent’ or else undo the works. Don’t take it for granted. You may be in trouble if you have done work requiring listed building consent without permission.

If you have done work which the Corporation as landlord wouldn’t have approved at the time, they won’t approve it later. In fact, you could be worse off – if their attitude has changed, then they may refuse retrospective permission later for work they might have approved at the time.

If your work involves altering or installing pipework or connecting into (or capping off) communal conduits, they make you open up the wall to prove the work was done right.

Barbican rules and tips

The Barbican Estate Office have rules on doing alterations – the hours when your builders can drill – and ‘tips’ – so your carpet installer doesn’t put a nail through the under-floor heating. You can get a copy from them.