A guide to making improvements to your home

by The Gateshead Housing Company & filed under Improving homes - DIY improvements.

What type of improvements can I make to my home?
You should always contact your nearest housing office for advice before carrying out any improvements.

You must get permission for the following improvements:

  • Removing walls
  • A new kitchen, bathroom suite, shower, gas fire or heating
  • Painting outside your home
  • Extra electrical sockets or lights
  • A new front door
  • A shed or a greenhouse
  • New windows
  • A driveway and pavement crossing
  • A satellite dish.

Do I need permission to make improvements?
You must obtain written permission from The Gateshead Housing Company before starting any work. You do this by writing or emailing your nearest housing office and setting out the improvements that you wish to make.

It is important that you do this, as we may need to advise you about:

  • Any regulations that your improvement needs to meet
  • Any hidden consequences of carrying out the improvement.

Getting permission is important if you think you may leave your home in the future, and hope to claim compensation for improvements that you have made. It will also ensure you get good advice from us.

What happens after I apply for permission?
A housing officer or surveyor may wish to visit you at home to discuss your plans in more detail and give you advice. If we give permission, we may set conditions you must meet. If we refuse permission, we will give you our reasons in writing.

Which improvements will need to meet building regulations?
For structural changes, you may still need to get planning permission and building regulation approval from Gateshead Council before work starts.

Structural work includes alterations to walls, floors, ceilings, roofs, water, electricity and gas services. You may also need planning permission for anything that alters the appearance of your home. Some fencing may also need permission.

For further advice contact Development Control at Gateshead Civic Centre on 0191 433 3000 or visit Gateshead Council’s website.

What problems can happen after carrying out improvements without approval?
Any that affect the legal duties of The Gateshead Housing Company or the health and safety of tenants or leaseholders.

Gas servicing
We have a legal duty to service all gas heating appliances every year. Sometimes during servicing we find some properties do not meet gas safety regulations.

This is because tenants carried out improvements without getting advice and permission from us. Where a tenant has fitted their own doors without enough ventilation, we are often forced to turn heating systems off for safety reasons and install ventilation, in line with gas safety regulations.

If we have to do this, you will have to meet the costs of installing ventilation. Average costs to supply and fit a wall vent are around £75.

Find out more about gas servicing.

Flooring
Many tenants install their own laminate or ceramic tile flooring without getting advice and permission from us first. Problems can occur when we need access under the floor to carry out repairs or home improvements.

In these instances the tenant is responsible for removing the flooring. Sometimes this is not easy, and the flooring is often damaged, leaving them with a costly repair bill. Once I have received permission, who will pay for the cost of the work?

You will be responsible for the costs of alterations and improvements you make.

Who can I ask to do the work?
Any work must be carried out by a competent tradesperson with liability insurance.

  • Gas – any work to gas appliances or pipework must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered contractor
  • Electrics – any electrical work must be carried out by NICEIC registered contractor with a copy of the certificate of compliance forwarded to the housing company
  • Glazing improvements or new UPVC windows – must have a FENSA certificate.

We may inspect your home to ensure work has been carried out to an appropriate standard.

Who is responsible for maintenance of any alterations?
You are responsible for the maintenance of new fixtures and fittings, such as a bathroom suite, kitchen units or gas fire for the first year.

If a private contractor made the improvements, they should be covered by a guarantee or warranty for a period of time.

If you had our permission and the work has been done properly, The Gateshead Housing Company will maintain new fixtures and fittings after the first year.

We cannot guarantee to match fixtures and fittings you installed, especially kitchen units. You are responsible for any decoration to the inside of your home.

Can I remove added fixtures and fittings if I leave my home?
Yes, you can remove those fixtures and fittings, such as internal doors. But the property must be put back to its original state, or left in a satisfactory condition.

Can I claim compensation if I leave my home?
You may be entitled to compensation for improvements you have made to your home. If you obtained permission for improvements you can apply for compensation when you end your tenancy. Please contact your housing office for details.

Do I need permission to redecorate?
No, not for redecorating the inside of your home, including replacing ceramic tiling. However, you must not artex your walls and ceilings, or fix polystyrene tiles to your ceiling. You do need permission from us to redecorate the exterior of your home.

Information for Leaseholders

Can I do my own alterations?
As a leaseholder you have the right to improve your home, but for some improvements you will need written permission from us.

This is because, as landlord we have an investment in the block and a responsibility to other residents. We will not refuse permission unless we have a good reason to.

You may also need to get planning permission and building consent before starting work. We do not need to know about minor works, such as decorating.

But, we do need to know about any alterations that affect walls, windows, doorframes, plumbing and electrical services. The outside window frames belong to the landlord. You must not replace your windows, unless we have given you permission in writing.

Can I install my own windows and doors?
To do this you must ask permission from the Leasehold Services Team. If you do install windows and doors, your painting charge will reduce.

What sort of alterations do I need permission for?
Any addition or change to the structure or services in your home, including aerials and satellite dishes. For outside decoration the type of paint may need approving so that it is compatible with future paints we may use.

How do I get permission?
Write to your nearest housing office or the Leasehold Services Team. You will need to say what you want to do and include a drawing or plan.

A Building Surveyor may need to visit your home before we can make a decision. If we refuse permission we will give you our reasons in writing. If you go ahead with work after we have refused permission you will be breaking the terms of your lease.

The permission we give you to go ahead is not the same as planning permission. You are responsible for getting any necessary planning permission or building regulations approval. We will normally make it a condition that you do this when we give you permission for the works.

If you do something without permission we have the right to put things back as they were and charge you for it.