From porches to solar panels, we’ve answered the UK’s most common renovation questions

  • New research highlights and answers the top-searched DIY questions on Google
  • Find out whether you need planning permission for a porch, what the regulations are for stairs, and whether you can go ahead and build a house yourself
  • Answers from experts like HouseUp, Planning Portal, and the HomeOwners Alliance give comprehensive advice, including which projects may require professional support

The summer months bring the peak renovation season and one of the first things many people do when thinking about fixing or renovating their property is turn to Google. That’s why has teamed up with a range of experts to answer the UK’s most searched for questions around renovations and DIY.

Planning permission

The simple answer to the most popular planning permission question – whether building a porch needs planning permission – is that it doesn’t, provided the ground floor area doesn’t exceed 3m2, no part is higher than 3m above ground level, and perhaps most importantly, no part is within 2m of the boundary of the house and road. The porch may, however, be subject to building regulations, so it’s important to check.

Other popular planning permission questions include conservatories, sheds and loft conversions – none of which you need permission for, provided you keep to certain standards, listed in detail in the research available on the site.

Building up expectations

The most frequently asked question beginning “Can I build…” is “Can I build my own house?” – which is clearly quite an undertaking. The experts answer this by detailing the documents needed for any development project, including technical drawings, planning permission and building regulations. They also highlight the specific approval schemes with which you should ensure any traders are registered before allowing them to carry out work on your development.

One of the top things people are looking to build themselves that they will need planning permission for is a fence next to their neighbours. This is, however, only if it meets certain parameters – including if it’s over a metre high and next to a vehicle highway or two metres high elsewhere. You also need permission if it’s being built in the vicinity of a listed building, whether that’s yours or one on a nearby property.

Install it yourself

The primary concern searchers have is whether they can install electrics on their own. While a competent amateur can tackle adding a wall socket or wiring into a spur, it’s suggested that dealing with hard wiring, particularly anything in the mains, is handled by a trader registered with an appropriate scheme like NICEIC.

Wood burners are popular too, but if you aren’t using someone from a certification scheme like HETAS, you’ll need to apply for a Building Notice in order to do it, and you’ll need to have a certificate of compliance awarded post-installation and available to provide if you move home.

Chris King, home insurance expert at, said: “Even if you’re a keen DIYer, some jobs are best left to the professionals. Anything involving gas is best left to certified engineers due to the risks involved.

“If you’re making substantial changes to your property, think about the insurance implications. For example, if you’re adding a bedroom or extending the kitchen, you may need to amend your building insurance. If you have contractors on site, check they have adequate insurance that protects you if something goes wrong. It’s always a good idea to check with your insurance provider so they can advise you if any changes to your building or contents cover are required.”

For more info to help you put together a DIY plan, see the full list of responses on