Home Extensions and Improvements

You don’t require planning permission to extend or add to your house provided you meet a set of rules which came into operation on 6 April 2011.

These rules specify what is and what is not possible with regards to planning permission and applies mostly to the dimensions of the proposed extension, its position on the main house and its proximity to your site boundaries.

You will need to apply for planning permission if:

  • More than half the area of land around the ‘original house’ would be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • The enlarged part of the house would be forward of a principal or side elevation and face onto a road.
  • It consists of the provision of a basement.
  • It includes the construction or provision of a balcony or veranda.


Planning permission is not required for a porch provided that:

1. The ground area is not more than 3 square metres (measured externally)
2. Any part of the porch does not exceed;
a. 3 metres above ground if the roof is flat or mono pitched;
b. 3.5 metres above ground if the roof is dual pitched
3. Any part of the porch is not closer than 2 metres to any boundary with a road or footpath.
4. The materials used are of similar appearance to those of the existing house.

Outbuildings and Other Structures

Lots of buildings and structures can be built around your home or garden without the need to apply for planning permission provided you meet the relevant rules.

These include sheds, garages, greenhouses, accommodation for pets and domestic animals, summer houses, swimming pools, ponds, sauna cabins, enclosures (including tennis courts) and many other kinds of structures.

In some circumstances you will need to apply for planning permission e.g. pigeon shed, floodlighting to tennis courts etc.

Working from home

You do not necessarily need planning permission to work from home.
The important fact is whether the overall character of your home will change as a result of the business.

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, then planning permission will probably be required:

  • Will your home no longer be used mainly as a private residence?
  • Will your business result in a marked rise in traffic or people calling?
  • Will your business involve any activities unusual in a residential area?
  • Will your business disturb your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?

Whatever business you provide from your home, whether it involves using part of it as a bed-sit or for “B & B” accommodation, using a room as your personal office, providing a childminding service, using rooms for hairdressing or music teaching, or using buildings in the garden for repairing cars or storing goods connected with a business – the key test is:

“Is it still mainly a home or has it become business premises?”

Change of Use

Generally planning permission is required for a change of use;
For example, a change of use from a dwelling to a crèche requires permission.

Contact MQD to discuss your own specific project or for more information on any of these topics see:  www.planningni.gov.uk