Solar panels have become increasingly popular in recent years as a clean and renewable source of energy. It’s important to undertake due diligence when installing solar panels, being sure to obtain any necessary permissions and ensuring the structural integrity of the property’s roof.

In this blog post, we will discuss the important considerations when installing solar panels on commercial properties or school buildings and how our Chartered Surveyors can help.

Planning Permission

One of the most crucial considerations when embarking on solar panel installations on a commercial property is whether planning permission is required. The answer to this depends on several factors, such as the location and type of property.

Size of installation: Installations up to 50KW (meeting certain criteria of heights above pitched roof plane – .02m or 1.0 flat roof; distance to edge of roof – 1.0m and assuming not Article 2(3) land) there is no requirement for any planning approvals/permitted development applications.

Installations over 50KW but less then 1 Megawatt require a prior approval application. Installations over 1 megawatt require a full planning application.

Location: Solar panels are generally considered permitted developments as long as they are installed on rooftops or it is determined that they do not impact the aesthetics of the surrounding areas. However, in situations where the solar panels are visible from a public viewpoint or in a conservation area, planning permission may be necessary.

Type of property: Another factor that may impact the need for planning permission is the type of property. If the solar panels are being installed on a building that is classified as a listed building or within a designated area, such as national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty, then planning permission is likely to be required.

Assessing the Existing Building

In addition to planning permission, it is important to conduct a thorough assessment of the existing building before installing solar panels. This assessment should include a comprehensive inspection of the roof and structural integrity, as well as an assessment of the electrical systems.

Roof inspection: It’s important to undertake an assessment of the roof to identify any potential issues that may affect the installation. This should ideally be done by a Chartered Surveyor and include checking for any signs of damage, such as leaks or cracks, and ensuring the roof is strong enough to support the weight of the solar panels. Remedial works may be recommended, such as the reapplication of protective coatings, cut edge corrosion works, replacement fixings, and cleaning.

Structural integrity: when assessing a roof for a solar panel installation, we will usually work alongside a Structural Engineer. This allows for the structural integrity of the building to be assessed. Factors such as the weight of the solar panels and the additional load they place on the structure need to be considered. If necessary, modifications or reinforcements may be required to ensure the stability of the building.

By considering these factors and obtaining the necessary planning permission, Chartered Surveyors can help ensure that the solar panel installations on commercial properties are successful and in compliance with relevant regulations.

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