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Building Regulations

Last updated November 2012
 
Most types of new buildings, conversions or extensions to buildings and changes to the use of buildings need to comply with the Building Regulations. These Regulations set standards for the quality, safety and performance that finished developments need to achieve.
The Building Regulations are detailed and, sometimes, highly technical.  They vary between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - but, generally, cover common topics and expect similar standards.  In England they cover the following topics:-
  • Structural safety.
  • Fire safety.
  • Resistance to contaminants and moisture.
  • Toxic substances.
  • Resistance to sound.
  • Ventilation.
  • Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency.
  • Drainage and waste disposal.
  • Heat producing appliances.
  • Protection from falling.
  • Conservation of fuel and power.
  • Access and use of buildings.
  • Glazing safety.
  • Electrical safety.
To see the detail of these Regulations for England see:-
 www.planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations/approveddocuments/
Some minor building work can be exempt from various sections of the Building Regulations.  To check see the Planning Portal website page:- 
www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/responsibilities/buildingregulations/approvalneeded/exemptions

There are two types of application that can be made for Building Regulations Approval.:-

1. A 'Full Plans' Application.  Full details of the work being carried out are submitted in advance of work starting (designs,  specifications, calculations etc)
2. A 'Building Notice' Application.  Notification is made 48 hours prior to work starting and the details are submitted during the course of the works.

There are similar fees for each type of Application.  Using a 'Full Plans' Application allows time to address any non-compliance issues before work starts.  Both will involve periodic inspections of the work as it is being carried out and both will result in a 'Certificate of Completion' at the end (if you request one.)

There are two types of bodies that can be applied to for Building Regulations Approval:-
1. 'Approved Inspector' - a private firm.  To find licensed firms you can use the Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors search tool:- 
www.approvedinspectors.org.uk/about-approved-inspectors/why-approved-inspectors/
2. Local Authority Building Control Department - contact the local council.

It can be advantageous to consider the implications of the Building Regulations at the beginning of planning a project - so that compliance is not problematic down the line.
The advice of a professional will be useful even in small-scale projects (an architect or building surveyor, for example.)  Structural building work will require the input of a Structural Engineer whose structural calculations will be checked by the regulating body.

To find an architect you can use the Royal Institute of British Architects search tool (or phone 020 7307 3700):- www.architecture.com/UseAnArchitect/ClientServicesReferrals.aspx

To find a Building Surveyor you can use the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors search tool:-
www.ricsfirms.com
To find a Structural Engineer you can use the Institution of Structural Engineers search tool:-
www.findanengineer.com

Some miscellaneous points:-

  • Keep your Building Regulations 'Completion Certificate' - it may be useful in the future if you sell the property.
  • Even small scale electrical re-wiring needs to comply with the Building Regulations - use a certified electrician.
  • Replacement external windows and glazed doors will either need to be manufactured by a 'competent person' (registered with BSI, CERTASS or FENSA) or a Building Regulations Application will need to be made.
  • It is possible to apply for Building Regulations Approval after a development is completed - but this can be expensive and inconclusive.
  • The local authority Building Control Department has powers to act in the event of a building structure being dangerous.  If you suspect this is the case; contact your local council.
SEE ALSO:

What is Planning Permission and do I Need it?

How do I Make a Planning Application?