Planning permission for building a house
If you are planning to build a house, you must first get planning permission from your local authority. This is required by law for almost every development.
It is illegal to carry out any work if you don’t have the required planning permission. You may be fined and possibly imprisoned if you build without the required planning permission.
However, if a genuine mistake has been made, you can apply for planning permission to keep an unauthorised structure in place, but this permission is not guaranteed. If permission is refused after the building is complete, you will have to demolish the unauthorised structure.
What to consider before applying for planning permission
Before you apply for planning permission, there any many things to consider, such as what type of planning permission you’ll need and if your plans fit with the development plan for your area.
Types of planning permission
You need to apply for planning permission for most developments on your land or property.
This includes most:
- Building and demolition work
- Alterations to land or buildings
- Significant changes to the use of land or buildings
However, you may not need planning permission for smaller developments and minor changes to your home. For example, you do not need planning permission for small extensions or when converting your garage or shed. There are specific conditions for these exemptions.
There are two different types of planning permission:
- Permission: This is when the local authority agrees to your work. It lasts for 5 years.
- Outline permission: This is when you have an initial plan and want to see if the local authority agrees to it in principle.
The local authority may grant permission with conditions. This means you may have to make changes to your designs in order to get approval.
Planning permission to clear a site
If you need to clear a site before building can begin building, you will need planning permission to:
- Make or widen an access onto a public road
- Demolish a structure that was last used as a home
- Demolish a building in a terrace
- Demolish a building that is attached to another building not owned by you
- Demolish a protected structure
Your local authority's local development plan
Always review your local development plan before you apply for planning permission. A development plan describes how your local authority plans to develop particular parts of the local authority area where you live (for example, residential areas, industrial areas, agricultural areas).
Your local authority can tell you if your plans are likely to fit-in with the local development plan. You can discuss your plans with them and they can advise you on the planning permission process and any particular conditions for building in the area.
For example, you can only build a home in some rural areas, if you have an association with the area. This is known as local needs. The local authority will be able to advise you on these conditions.
Do your research with the Office of the Planning Regulator
The Office of the Planning Regulator publishes very helpful information in:
- Doing Work around the House – The Planning Issues (pdf)
- A Guide to Planning Permission (pdf)
- A Guide to Making a Planning Application (pdf)
For more information on applying for planning permission and the different types of planning permission, see Planning permission.
How to apply for planning permission
There are two basic steps.
1: Notify the public about your plans
You must notify the public about your plans before you apply for planning permission:
- Place a notice in a local newspaper (your local authority can provide a list for your area)
- Put up a site notice which is visible and easily read
The site notice must be put up on or before the day you apply and remain there for at least 5 weeks.
Days over Christmas holiday period don’t count: The 9 days over Christmas, from 24 December to 1 January, are not considered when calculating the 5-week period.
The OPR’s Guide to Making a Planning Application has information about what to include in the notices.
2. Send in your application to the local authority
Fill in a planning application form and submit it with the relevant documents to your local authority.
Application forms are available from your local authority.
Your planning application must be received by the local authority within 2 weeks of the notice appearing in the newspaper.
Your planning permission is valid for 5 years after it is granted.
How much does it cost to apply
When you submit your planning application to your local authority, you must pay an application fee. It is €65 for an application to build a house.
But remember, you may also have to pay for the notice to appear in the newspaper.
How long does it take?
Your local authority must make a decision on your planning application within 8 weeks of receiving it. They can:
- Grant permission
- Refuse permission
- Request further information
- Extend the time period with your agreement