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Planning Permission in Ireland Explained (In layman’s terms!)

Planning Permission in Ireland Explained (In layman’s terms!)


Irish Planning permission regulations can be confusing. Some say they were originally designed this way back in 1964 to bamboozle property owners, while keeping architects and local county council planning offices in lolly! Who knows - but although the original language and rules have been simplified recently, there are still an awful lot of boring pages to get through!

Knowing as we do that the average Sean-and-Mary homeowner don't have time for all that, We've compiled a handy multi-part guide with the key points on Irish planning regulations for the masses. We’re just nice like that!

In part 1 we look at the main types of alterations projects and how they apply to your home. From it you will get a good steer on whether your planned project will need planning permission or not (although please don’t skip the bit where you start building without checking with your local council first!).

Then, in part 2 we’ll look at the planning process itself and with some tips on how to best navigate it.

So here goes…

What don’t you need planning permission for?

Planning Permission Ireland


A general rule of thumb to follow is that if it the alteration is small enough and discrete then you won’t need planning permission. However, Ireland wouldn’t be Ireland if it was that simple!

Here are some of the most common project types for which you can avoid the planning permission process and the rules you need to adhere to make them legit:


  •  Small extensions at the rear of your house that are less than 40 square meters in floor area and are not higher than the original house. Bear in mind that the 40 square Meter threshold includes the combined extension space for all extensions to the original house’s footprint – so you’ll be limited by previous owners work here too. Additionally the extension cannot reduce the open space at the back of your house to less than 25 square meters.
  • Internal renovations that do not increase the original footprint of the home.
  • Attic conversions that are not for habitable use. So if you plan use it for storage it’s not habitable – although many do still use these spaces as an extra room. For the record if you need to convert it to a recognised bedroom (for selling purposes) then 75% of the floor area needs to be at a minimum height of 8 ft. 
  • A small front porch that has a floor area of less than 2 square meters. Additionally it cannot be within 2 meters from a public footpath or road. These additions also have height restrictions where it must be less than 4 meters high for a pitched roof and 3 meters for all other roof types.
  • Car parking spaces, patios, decking and pathways. As long as they are not for commercial use.
  • Small Garage Conversions at the back or rear of the house. Where you convert the garage for domestic use (i.e. a bedroom, kitchen, living room etc.) and its floor area is less than 40 square meters.
  • Building a Garage at the back or side of the house as long as its floor area is less than 25 square meters and is not more than 4 meters high with a pitched roof or 3 meters high for other roof types. These sheds are not to be lived in or to be used for commercial purposes or for housing animals. In general the finish needs to match that of the original house.
  • Wooden Fences and Stone Walls as long as they are less than 1.2 meters in height at the front of your house or 2 meters to the rear. Excludes security fences.
  • Gates that are less than 2 meters high.
  • Satellite dishes at the rear or the side of the house that are less than 1m in diameter and are not higher than the house. One dish per house only.
  • Rooflight or skylight windows at the rear of your home. As long as they do not face onto a public road, if they are flush with the existing roofline and combined do not take up more than 20% of the roof area.

In our experience, the above account for 90% of all project types undertaken by Irish homeowners that are exempt for planning. There are others but you’ll need to check your local council for details. 

Read our Building Regulation vs Planning Permission to find out more.


What do you need planning permission for?

Planning Permission Needed Ireland


So that leaves the project types less travelled for most home owners. Here are the project types you will need planning permissions for:



  • Building a new home
  • Sub-dividing an existing dwelling
  • Extensions to the front or side of your house. See exemptions for side conversions and garages above.
  • Large house extensions including conservatories at the rear of the house. Where the extension is more than 40 SQ Meters. See the exemption criteria above.
  • Habitable Attic Conversions – where you want the conversion to be recognised as an extra room in the house (when selling etc.). Also includes any conversion that changes the roof shape (dormer, windows etc.)
  • Projects that fall outside the limits above. Ok, we’re being a bit lazy here. But each of the exclusions above has size and other limitations listed. If your project falls outside them, you’ll need planning permission.
  • A basement.  Creating a basement under the house will require extensive groundworks and will require planning permission
  • Swimming pools. If you’re lucky enough for one, the bad news is that you will need planning permission for indoor pools and most likely for your outdoor one - you’ll need to check with your local council on that.
  • Demolition of habitable buildings or structures. Just so the postman doesn’t get confused..
  • Adding dormer window and any roof additions.
  • Rooflight or skylight windows at the front of your home. In fact, if they face onto a public area at all they will most likely require planning.


So now you know! The above provides a list of most (although not all) common project types and their planning permission status. We always advise that it is best to check with your local planning authority before you start a project as there may be local planning policies that you are unaware of.

Oh, and just to finish on a factual note - currently in Ireland there are 88 planning authorities made up of 29 County Councils, 5 County Borough Corporations, 5 Borough Corporations and 49 Town Councils. Who said the whole thing was complicated?

Now go to part 2 for our next part on "How to navigate the planning permission process".



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