Is It Legal To Build a House Underground? Do You Need Planning Permission for a Basement?

Is It Legal To Build a House Underground?

Do You Need Planning Permission for an Underground House?

Underground House

Is it illegal to build an underground house, basement, bunker, cellar or any type of underground room in your backyard? If it wasn’t illegal, you may as well as ask, is it legal to build a house above-grade or above the ground level? Building a house above or below grade requires a building permit obtained from the local authorities. It doesn’t matter whether you are building horizontally or vertically in any direction, you will need a building permit before proceeding with excavations. To start with, before digging any kind of hole, trench or pit on your residential lot, you are required to get permission from utility operators in your city or town. If the utility services in your area are managed and maintained by the local municipality, then you have to contact the municipality to come and locate the underground services on your residential lot. Unless all utility operators (water, sewer, gas, electricity, telecom etc.) have done an inspection on your private property and identified all underground services, you are not allowed to start digging or building any kind of structure.

As you can see, we already have two kinds of permits or permissions that you have to obtain before building an underground house or room. Depending on your location, development plans, building type and use, there are many other permits that you have to obtain under zoning laws and town planning regulations. You may not start building until you have obtained all the permits. So you are now aware of a building permit as well as a digging/excavation permission. There is a third group of municipal laws and regulations falling under planning permission.

What is the Difference Between a Building Permit and Planning Permission?

A building permit is the normal permit obtained from local authorities for designated /classified developments permitted under existing zoning laws, title deeds, land use and setback requirements. When a new town or city is established, the town planners sit down to divide and classify land for specific land uses e.g. residential, commercial and industrial areas. The zones are further sub-divided into sub-zones, for example, low class, middle class and high class residential areas. These sub-zones come with their own classified title deeds and setback requirements which set them apart from other zones. For example, low-income areas often have smaller lots (front and backyards) and therefore building external structures such as swimming pools may not be allowed.

When you need to build something outside the existing blanket rules and regulations (zoning laws and title deeds), you must apply for a planning permission from the local authority. So whether you need a planning permission for building an underground room or basement depends on what’s allowed under permitted developments in your area. You must find out from the municipality or city council. In the USA, basements are usually built under a building permit as part of a new home. In the United Kingdom, whether an underground room requires a planning permission or not, depends on many factors for example, you have to ask yourself the following questions:

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