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Planning permission for altering a house


Planning permission for development

If you are going to build an extension or make other changes to your house in Ireland, you may need planning permission. Generally minor changes such as those listed below do not need planning permission but you should always make absolutely certain that you don't need planning permission before you start building. Failure to obtain planning permission where it is required can result in penalties (i.e., significant fines or even imprisonment). Your local authority will be able to advise you about this.

We cannot answer specific questions on whether or not your proposed development will require permission. Only your local authority can do this. The following information is just a general guideline but should prove helpful.

Generally, you will not need planning permission for:

  • Building an extension to the rear of the house which does not increase the original floor area of the house by more than 40 square metres and is not higher than the house. The extension should not reduce the open space at the back of the house to less than 25 square metres which must be reserved exclusively for the use of the occupants of your house. If your house has been extended before, the floor area of the extension you are now proposing and the floor area of any previous extension (including those for which you previously got planning permission) must not exceed 40 square metres. (There are also other height restrictions.)
  • Converting a garage attached to the rear or side of the house to domestic use so long as it has a floor area of less than 40 square metres. Building a garage at the back or side of a house so long as it does not extend out in front of the building line of the house and does not exceed four metres in height (if it has a tiled/slated pitched roof) or three metres (if it has any other roof type). This building will be exempt from planning permission once the floor area is limited to 25 square metres. Garages or sheds to the side of the house must match the finish of the house and may not be lived in, used for commercial purposes or for keeping pigs, poultry, pigeons, ponies or horses.
  • Building a front porch so long as it does not exceed two square metres in area and is more than two metres from a public road or footpath. If the porch has a tiled or slated pitched roof, it must not exceed four metres in height or three metres for any other type of roof.
  • Capped walls made of brick, stone or block, wooden fences but not security fences can be erected as long as they do not exceed 1.2 metres in height or two metres at the side or rear. Gates may be build provided they do not exceed 2 metres in height. Permission is always required to if you wish to widen or create new access to the public road.
  • A central heating system chimney, boiler house or oil storage tank (up to 3,500 litres capacity).
  • Car parking spaces, garden paths etc
  • A TV aerial on the roof so long as it is less than 6 metres higher than the roof
  • A satellite dish (up to 1 metre in diameter, and no higher than the top of the roof) at the back or side of the house (a dish on the front needs planning permission). Only one dish may be erected on a house.

These are guidelines only; it is most important to check with your local authority before starting to make any changes. S.I 600 of 2001 has more information about developments that are exempt from planning permission.

Planning permission for 'material change of use'

If you want to make a material (i.e. substantial) change to the use of land or buildings which will have an actual or potential impact on neighbours or the local community, then you will need planning permission.

For example you will need planning permission if you propose to:

  • Convert your garage into a workshop for business use
  • Establish a crèche
  • Open a bed and breakfast with more than 4 guest bedrooms

For more information on applying for planning permission and the different types of planning permission, see Planning Permission.

How to apply

Your application for planning permission for alterations to a house should be made to the Planning Department of your local authority. Queries in connection with alterations should be addressed to the Chief Officer of that Planning Department.

You may also be interested in reading the the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government 's useful leaflet on planning called Doing work around the house; the planning issues (pdf). This leaflet examines some common housing alterations and the associated planning issues. (For example, house extensions, change of use, etc.). Further information is always available from your local authority.

Page edited: 5 October 2010



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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.