Homeowners have spent billions of pounds on house improvements which contravene building or planning regulations, according to a new study.
Research by insurance firm LV= found that people were extending or carrying out improvements to their home rather than moving because of the state of the economy.
A survey of more than 500 homeowners who have had building work carried out in the past few years, along with 500 builders and surveyors found that one in 10 projects such as extensions or loft conversions, had breached regulations.
Some people were confused about building regulations, while others mistakenly believed it would be easier to obtain planning permission after they had carried out work, said the report.
Tens of thousands of homeowners have been ordered by council officials to take down or rectify building work in recent years, the research found.
John O'Roarke, managing director of LV= home insurance, said: "Many homeowners are choosing to improve or extend their homes as they are unable to move or choose not to, but have little understanding of the 'red tape' involved with building work. Breaching building regulations or planning rules can lead to hefty fines or an order to reverse any offending work."
Housing Minister Mark Prisk said: "This is a timely report, showing how complex state rules can be self-defeating. This Government is backing people who aspire to get on in life. We are overhauling and simplifying Whitehall rules on extensions, to make it easier for hard working families to undertake home improvements."