Exempted Development Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) any person, on payment of the prescribed fee (€80), may request in writing from the Planning Authority a declaration as to what in any particular case is or is not exempted development within the meaning of the Act. The applicant needs to supply the Planning Authority with any information necessary to enable the Authority to make a decision on the matter.

Click here to download the Exempted Development Declaration Application Form.

Small scale domestic extensions, including conservatories, do not require planning permission if the extension is to the rear of the house and complies with the following criteria:

  • The original floor area of the house is not increased by more than 40 square metres. It is important to note that where the 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 got planning permission, cannot exceed 40 square metres
  • For terraced or semi-detached houses, the floor area of any extension above ground level does not exceed 12 square metres (this includes any previous extensions carried out)
  • For detached houses the floor area of any extension above ground level does not exceed 20 square metres (this includes any previous extensions carried out)
  • For detached houses, the floor area of any extension above ground level does not exceed 20 square metres (this includes any previous extensions carried out)
  • The extension above ground floor level is at least 2m from any party boundary
  • The extension does not exceed the height of the house
  • The extension does not reduce the area of private open space, reserved for the occupants of the house, to less than 25 square metres.
  • There are also rules about the height allowed in such an extension. These are that:

  • Where the rear wall of the house does not include a gable, the height of the walls of the extension must not exceed the height of the rear wall of the house
  • Where the rear wall of the existing house has a gable, the walls of the extension (excluding any gable being built as part of the extension) shall not be higher than the side walls of the house
  • In the case of a flat roofed extension, the height of the highest part of the roof may not exceed the height of the eaves or parapet. In any other case, no part of the new roof may exceed the highest part of the roof of the house
  • A gable is the upper part of a wall (normally triangular), between the sloping ends of a pitched roof
  • Finally, there are also rules about the required distances between windows in extensions, the facing boundary of the adjoining property and the use of the roof of the extension. These are:

  • Any windows proposed at ground floor level as part of an extension should not be less than 1 metre from the boundary they face
  • Any windows proposed at above ground level should be not less than 11 metres from the boundary they face
  • The roof of any such extension should not be used as a balcony or roof garden.

  • Whilst not legally required, on payment of the prescribed fee (€80), any person may request in writing from the Planning Authority a declaration as to what in any particular case is or is not exempted development within the meaning of the Act. The person shall provide to the Planning Authority any information necessary to enable the Authority to make a decision on the matter.

    The conversion for use as part of a house (e.g. as a living room or bedroom) of a garage, store, shed etc. attached to the rear or side of a house is normally exempted development, subject to the 40 square metre limit and compliance with the conditions as set out in “Can I build an extension to my house without planning permission?” FAQ immediately above.

    Please note that should the 40 square metre exemption threshold be exceeded by the cumulative floor space of any proposed conversions and/or extensions to the house planning permission is required.

    The conversion of an attic is not exempted development and therefore requires planning permission. You can carry out internal alternations to a dwelling but you cannot change the use from 'storage' to 'habitable' use without planning permission.

    If you are considering lodging an application for permission for change of use of an attic to habitable use, you should ensure that your proposed development complies with the Building Regulations (with particular regard to adequate floor to ceiling height) and you should also have regard to the potential for overlooking of adjoining properties.

    A radio or TV aerial on your roof is exempt once it does not exceed 6 metres in height above the roof.

    A satellite dish up to 1 metre across and below the top of the roof is exempted development only to the rear or side of the house. Only one dish may be erected on a house. A dish to the front needs permission.

    You can build a porch without planning permission, as long as it does not exceed 2 square metres in area and is more than 2 metres from any public road or footpath. Where the porch has a tiled or slated pitched roof, it must not exceed 4 metres in height, or 3 metres for any other roof type.

    A front porch within these limits is the only type of development allowed to extend beyond the front wall of the building (the building line) and still remain exempted.

    You can carry out any internal alteration you wish as long as you do not alter the domestic use of the house. You should ensure that your proposed development complies with the relevant building regulations.

    External works of repair, maintenance and improvement such as painting or replastering do not need planning permission so long as they do not materially affect the external appearance, thus rendering the appearance inconsistent with neighbouring buildings. You may need approval for certain external alteration (e.g. a new connection to a sewer). This exemption does not apply to protected structures, nor to the subdivision of a house into flats or granny flats. Planning permission must be obtained for such works.

    You can build a garage, shed, awning, shade, greenhouse, store or other similar structure/object without the requirement for planning permission as long as it complies with the following criteria:

  • No such structure shall be constructed, erected or placed forward of the front wall of a house
  • The total area of such structures constructed, erected or placed within the curtilage of a house shall not, taken together with any other such structures previously constructed, erected or placed within the said curtilage, exceed 25 square metres.
  • The construction, erection or placing within the curtilage of a house of any such structure shall not reduce the amount of private open space reserved exclusively for the use of the occupants of the house to the rear or to the side of the house to less than 25 square metres.
  • The external finishes of any garage or other structure constructed, erected or placed to the side of a house, and the roof covering where any such structure has a tiled or slated roof, shall conform with those of the house.
  • The height of any such structure shall not exceed, in the case of a building with a tiled or slated pitched roof, 4 metres or, in any other case, 3 metres.
  • The structure shall not be lived in, nor shall it be used for the keeping of pigs, poultry, pigeons, ponies or horses, or for any other purpose other than a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the house as such.
  • Yes, you can build a chimney, flue, boiler house or fuel storage tank or structure, as part of a central heating system of a house without planning permission. The only requirement is that the oil storage tank does not exceed 3,500 litres.

    The parking or storing of a caravan, campervan or boat within the curtilage of a house is exempt from planning permission, subject to compliance with the following criteria:

  • Not more than one caravan, campervan or boat shall be so kept or stored.
  • The caravan, campervan or boat shall not be used for the storage, display, advertisement or sale of goods or for the purposes of any business.
  • No caravan, campervan or boat shall be so kept or stored for more than 9 months in any year or occupied as a dwelling while so kept or stored.
  • Capped walls made of brick, stone or block with a decorative finish, railings and wooden fences, can be erected as long as they do not exceed 1.2 metres in height in front of your house or 2 metres at the side or rear. If the wall is made of plain blocks or mass concrete it must be rendered or plastered on the face visible from any road, path or public area. Metal palisade or security fences are not exempt from permission.

    Gates and gateways may be built or replaced providing they do not exceed 2 metres in height. You will generally need planning permission if you wish to make a new or wider access to the public road.

    Paths, ponds and patios within the curtilage of a house are exempt from planning permission subject to the level of the ground not being altered by more than 1 metre above or below the level of the adjoining ground.

    Hard surface areas which are incidental to the enjoyment of the house in the rear garden area are exempt from planning permission. The provision of hard surface areas in the front and side garden areas for purposes incidental to the enjoyment of the house are exempt from planning permission subject to compliance with the following criteria:

  • Provided that the area of the hard surface is less than 25 square metres or less than 50% of the area of the garden forward of the front building line of the house, or 50% of the area of the garden to the side of the side building line of the house, as the case may be, whichever is the smaller
  • Or
  • If the area of the hard surface is 25 square metres or greater or comprises more than 50% of the area of the garden forward of the front building line of the house, or 50% of the area of the garden to the side of the side building line of the house, as the case may be, it shall be constructed using permeable materials or otherwise allow for rainwater to soak into the ground.
  • A wind turbine can be erected or placed within the curtilage of a dwelling provided the following conditions are met:

  • The turbine is not erected on or attached to the house or any building or other structure within its curtilage
  • The total height of the turbine does not exceed 13 metres
  • The rotor diameter does not exceed 6 metres
  • The minimum distance between the lower tip of the rotor and ground level is not less than 3 metres
  • The supporting tower shall be a distance of not less than the total structure height (including the blade of the turbine at the highest point of its arc) plus one metre from any party boundary
  • Noise levels must not exceed 43db(A) during normal operation, or in excess of 5db(A) above the background noise, whichever is greater, as measured from the nearest neighbouring inhabited dwelling
  • No more than one turbine shall be erected within the curtilage of a house
  • No such structure shall be erected or placed forward of the front wall of a house
  • All turbine components shall have a matt, non-reflective finish and the blade shall be made of material that does not deflect telecommunications signals
  • No sign, advertisement or object, not required for the functioning or safety of the turbine shall be attached to or exhibited on the wind turbine.
  • The installation or erection of a solar panel on or within the curtilage of a house, or on any buildings within the curtilage of a house is exempt subject to compliance with the following conditions:

  • The total aperture area of any such panel taken together with any other such panels previously placed on or within the curtilage of a house shall not exceed 12 square metres or 50% of the total roof area, whichever is the lesser
  • The distance between the plane of the wall or a pitched roof and the panel shall not exceed 15 centimetres
  • The distance between the plane of a flat roof and the panel shall not exceed 50 centimetres
  • The solar panel shall be a minimum of 50cm from any edge of the wall or roof on which it is mounted
  • The height of a free standing solar array shall not exceed 2 metres, at its highest point, above ground level
  • A free standing solar array shall not be placed on or forward of the front wall of a house
  • The erection of any free standing solar array shall not reduce the area of private open space, reserved exclusively for the use of the occupants of the house, to the rear or side of the house to less than 25 square metres.
  • The installation on or within the curtilage of a house, of a ground heat pump system or an air source heat pump, is exempt subject to compliance with the following conditions:

  • The level of the ground shall not be altered by more than 1 metre above or below the level of the adjoining ground
  • The total area of such a heat pump, taken together with any other such pumps previously erected, shall not exceed 2.5 square metres
  • The heat pump shall be a minimum of 50cm from any edge of the wall of roof on which it is mounted
  • No such structure shall be erected on, or forward of, the front wall or roof of the house
  • Noise levels must not exceed 43db(A) during normal operation, or in excess of 5db(A) above the background noise, whichever is greater, as measured from the nearest neighbouring inhabited dwelling.
  • In 2008, planning exemptions were introduced for the construction of certain renewable energy technologies at business premises, industrial buildings and agricultural holdings. These include structures for housing a combined heat and power system, wind turbine, solar panels, ground source heat system or air source heat pumps, etc subject to compliance with certain conditions. A full copy of the exemptions can be viewed on the DoECLG website by clicking on the following link:

  • Renewable Energy Technologies document
  • Yes, a 'change of use' can be exempted development and therefore not require planning permission. Outlined below are the changes of use which are exempt:

  • From use for the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises, or for the sale or leasing or display for sale or leasing of motor vehicles, to use as a shop
  • From use as a public house, to use as a shop
  • From use for the direction of funerals, as a funeral home, as an amusement arcade or a restaurant, to use as a shop
  • From use to which class 2 of Part 4 of this Schedule applies, to use as a shop
  • From use as 2 or more dwellings, to use as a single dwelling, of any structure previously used as a single dwelling
  • From use as a house, to use as a residence for persons with an intellectual or mental illness, or physical disability and persons providing care for such persons. The number of persons with an intellectual or physical disability or a mental illness living in any such residence shall not exceed 6 and the number of resident carers shall not exceed 2.