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Building Regulations Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the Building Regulations?

The Building Regulations are approved by Parliament and deal with the minimum standards of design and building work for the construction of domestic, commercial and industrial buildings. In addition, they set out the definitions of what is regarded as "building work" and the procedures for ensuring that it meets the standards laid down.

The Building Regulations also contain a list of requirements (referred to as Schedule 1) which are designed to ensure the health and safety of people in and around buildings; to provide for energy conservation; and to provide access and facilities for disabled people.

In total there are 14 Parts to these requirements. They cover subjects such as structure, fire safety, ventilation, drainage , energy conservation, and access and facilities for disabled people. The requirements are expressed in broad, functional terms in order to give designers and builders the maximum flexibility in preparing their plans.

The Approved Documents

Each part of Schedule 1 to the regulations is supported by a separate document called an "Approved Document" which contains practical and technical guidance on ways in which the requirements can be met. These documents can be viewed at the link at the end of this section.

Each Approved Document reproduces the requirements contained in the Building Regulations relevant to the subject area. This is followed by practical and technical guidance, with examples on how the requirements can be met in some of the more common building situations. However, there may well be alternative ways of complying with the requirements to those shown in the Approved Documents. You are therefore under no obligation to adopt any particular solution in an Approved Document if you prefer to meet the relevant requirement(s) in some other way.

If you wish to wish to know more in broad terms please click on the link below:

If you wish to refer to the Approved Documents themselves or the Regulation please click to the link to the planning portal below.

2. What building work is covered by the Building Regulations?

The Building Regulations cover building work as defined in Regulation 3 of the Regulations. This means that if you want to put up a new building, extend or alter an existing one, provide fittings in a building such as drains, heat-producing appliances, washing / sanitary facilities, hot water storage (unvented hot water systems), install new windows or carry out electrical works, the Building Regulations will probably apply. They may also apply to certain changes of use in relation to existing buildings, even though construction work may not be intended. This is because the change of use may involve the building having to meet different requirements of the Regulations.

Do remember that although it may appear the Regulations do not apply to some of the work you wish to undertake, the end result of doing that work could lead to contraventions of the Regulations. You should also recognise that some work - whether controlled or not - could have implications for adjacent properties. In such cases it would be advisable to take professional advice and consult the Local Authority or an Approved Inspector.

Some examples are:
A. The removal of buttressing support to a party wall;
B. Underpinning part of a building;
C. The removal of a tree close to a wall or adjoining property;
D. The addition of a floor screed to a balcony which may reduce the height of the safety barrier;
E. The building of parapets which may increase snow accumulation, and lead to an excessive increase in the loading on the roof.

NB: Whether or not the work is controlled, due regard should be given to potential hazards arising and the need for safety precautions, e.g., to children in respect of the construction of a garden pond.

3. How do I make an application for Building Regulations approval

There are two types of application to a Local Authority and you can choose which one you will make. These are a Full Plans application or a Building Notice.

Full Plans

This is normally the most appropriate application for most building projects. It provides you with the assurance that the work you are doing has been fully checked, approved and monitored by qualified Building control Surveyors. This kind of application is a two stage process:

1. The Plan stage

The applicant submits detailed plans of the work they want to do. These are checked by the Building Control Surveyor to make sure that all the right information is included and that it complies with the building regulations. Our target for checking the plans and providing feedback is 10 days. If the applicant need to make changes to the plans these are allowed up until prior to us making a decision. However, if the changes are substantial or significant and change the nature of the initial application, a new application may be required in order that we reconsider and re-check the proposal.

2. The Inspection Stage

This stage begins when the building work starts. An officer will visit the site at different stages of the construction process to check the work is carried out in the way that is shown on the approved plan.

At the end of the project the applicant receives a 'completion certificate' which confirms that as far as can be reasonably ascertained that the building regulations have been complied with.

Building Notice

This kind of application is intended for more simple work. The applicant does not have to provide detailed plans and so building work can start more quickly. However, a building notice will not give you the same protection that would be given by the approval of 'full plans' and should only be used if you or your builder are fully conversant with the requirements of the building regulations. The Building Control Officer may still require additional information to be submitted; for instance structural calculations can be required depending on the nature of the work.

4. Do I need to pay a fee to obtain building regulations approval?

Yes, there are a variety of charges payable to obtain building regulation approval. The fee will depend on the type and scale of work you wish to carry out. An exemption applies where the works are solely for the use of disabled persons. View our scale of fees.

5. If I make a Building Notice application, will the Building Control Officer tell me how to carry out the work during his first visit?

No - while we are always willing to offer help and advice you should not expect the Building Control Officer to act as a substitute for an Architect or designer.
If you are not confident that you (or your builder) are not fully conversant with the requirements of the Building regulations, then we would strongly advise that you do not use a Building Notice application but have plans drawn by a professional who will prepare a scheme considering your design requirements and also the technical requirements of the Building Regulations and submit a Full Plans application on your behalf.

6. What happens if my 'Full Plans' application is rejected.

It is always our intention to assist yourself or your Agent in addressing any technical problems and come to a satisfactory compliant solution in order that we can Approve your plans before the required decision date. However, there are occasions where the plans submitted clearly show contravention(s) to the Regulations or insufficient information has been provided and have not been resolved before we are required to make a decision. We would then have no alternative but to reject the plans. However, you can resubmit your application at no further cost and the scheme will be re-assessed. Hopefully the resubmission will address those technical issues previously raised and we will be able to approve the plans.

7. What happens if I don't agree with the reason(s) given in rejecting my plans?

The plans would have been rejected on technical grounds where the drawings or specification indicate a non-compliance with the Regulations or insufficient information provided to demonstrate compliance. If you disagree with the technical assessment that we have made we would advise that in the first instance you seek further clarification of the decision from the Building Control Officer who will hopefully help you to understand the reasoning behind the decision. If you still disagree with the decision you can apply to the Secretary of State for the Communities and Local Government for a determination or an appeal depending on the circumstances of the case. The procedural guidance to apply for a determination or an appeal and additional advice is given in the link below.

8. Do I need Building Regulation Approval ...........

...... to build an extension to my house?
Yes. However, a porch or conservatory built at ground level may be exempt from Building Regulations.
A porch which does not exceed 30m² in floor area, has glazing which complies with Approved Document N (see link below for critical locations of safety glazing), and electrical works which are not notifiable, will be exempt from the Building Regulations.
For a conservatory the above applies, but it must also have the walls and roof substantially glazed and it must be thermally separated from the main dwelling (i.e., doors).

Your Local Authority Building Control Department or an Approved Inspector can supply further information on safety glazing. It is advisable to ensure that a conservatory is not constructed so that it restricts ladder access to windows serving a room in the roof or a loft conversion, particularly if that window was designed as an emergency means of escape in the case of fire.

...... to install, alter or replace my shop front?
Yes, and consideration will need to be given to improving access if practicable and reasonable to do so. There will be implications not only in terms of Building Regulations but also the Disability Discrimination Act that you should be aware of. For more information with respect to your responsibilities as a shop owner under the Disability Discrimination Act please click on the link below.

...... to convert my house into flats?
Yes, even where construction work may not be intended as this is a defined "material" change of use under the Building Regulations.

...... to make internal alterations within my house, shop or office?

Your House
Yes, if the alterations are to the structure such as the removal or part removal of a load bearing wall, joist, beam or chimney breast, or would affect fire precautions of a structural nature either inside or outside your house. You also need approval if, in altering a house, work is necessary to the drainage system or to maintain the means of escape in case of fire.

Your Shop or Office

...... to convert part or all of my shop or office to a flat or house?

...... to carry out repairs to my house, shop or office?
No, if the repairs are of a minor nature, e.g., replacing the felt to a flat roof, repointing brickwork, or replacing floorboards.
Yes, if the repair work is major in nature, e.g., removing a substantial part of a wall and rebuilding it, or underpinning a building.

...... for a loft conversion?

...... to install replacement windows and doors in my house, shop or office?
Yes. However, many window and door replacement companies are now registered under the FENSA or CERTASS scheme which means that, for householder installations the contractor who is signed up to such a scheme will self-certify that the window(s) complies with the regulations. The Local Authority will be informed directly via FENSA or CERTASS of the installation at your address.
If an installation of new windows or doors is to be carried out in commercial premises a Full Plans Application must be submitted, along with a specification, for us to inspect the works.

...... to alter the existing electrics or install new electrics?
Yes probably if the works are within a dwelling but will depend on what you are doing and where in the dwelling you are carrying out the works. However, If your electrician is Part P registered to a Competent Persons Scheme you will not be required to submit an application to the Authority. Under the Competent Persons scheme the Local Authority will be informed directly by Competent persons body of any work that has been carried out under the scheme.

BRE Certification Limited

British Standards Institution (BSI)

ELECSA Limited

NAPIT Registration Limited

NICEIC Group Ltd

...... to build a detached garage?
Yes. But a single storey garage at ground level, under 30m² in floor area and with no sleeping accommodation, is exempt provided either:
(i) it is built substantially of non-combustible material (i.e., concrete or brick); or
(ii) when built it has a clear space of 1 metre from the boundary of the property.

...... to build a garage extension to my house, shop or office?
Yes, but a car port extension built at ground level, open on at least two sides and under 30m² in floor area, is exempt Building Regulation Approval.

...... to build or alter a garden wall or boundary wall?
No. But, of course, you should make sure that the work is done safely to avoid accidents.
The Party Wall Act may apply depending on the works you are carrying out.

9. Can the Building Control Officer recommend a suitable builder?

I'm afraid not. Your Building Control officer is required to be completely impartial in his dealings with any builder or client and this would obviously not be possible if he/she were in a position of recommending one builder ahead of another. We are well aware of the difficulties of finding a good builder and recommend that you follow the guidance given in our leaflet to reduce the risk of making a poor selection.

You may also wish to consult the Lancashire County Council Safetrader scheme:

10. When can I start work?

You may start work after you have submitted a Building Notice or Full Plans application, and at least two days notice has been given of your intention to commence work. However, you should also always ensure that you have planning permission before you start work if the project requires it. We strongly recommend that you wait for your plans to be approved if you have made a Full plans application.

Either you or your builder should notify the Building Control Surveyor at the following stages (depending on the type of work):

Commencement of work
Excavation of Foundations before concreting
Foundations when constructed
Damp proof course when laid
Site concrete or floor slab (before being laid)
Drainage (before backfilling)
Drainage (after backfilling)
Occupation (in respect to a new property)

There may be other additional intermediate inspections required which the Building Control Officer will notify you of in advance, one such inspection is the pre-plaster inspection which gives us the opportunity to view the structural elements and other aspects of the work before it is covered over.

It is imperative that you call us to ensure that the relevant works are inspected. Should you ring us before 10.00am we are normally able to carry out an inspection on the same day. Should you continue past an inspection stage without a site inspection, it may be necessary to expose work that has been covered over and rectify the work should it not comply with the Building Regulations

The following leaflet gives more guidance on inspections

11. Do my neighbours have the right to object to what is proposed in my Building regulation application?

No. Whilst there is no requirement in the Building Regulations to consult neighbours, it would be prudent for you to do so. In any event you should be careful that the work does not encroach on their property since this could lead to bad feeling and possibly legal action of an injunction for the removal of the work. It should be noted that encroachment and boundary issues are not dealt with under the Building Regulations. However, if it is obvious that such a matter may arise when plans are submitted we will always bring this to your attention in order to avoid, if possible, problems at the construction phase.
Objections may be raised under other legislation, particularly if your proposal is subject to approval under the Town and Country Planning legislation or the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

12. When the Building Control Surveyor visits the site he generally talks to the builder but not me - why?

I assure you the Surveyor is not being disrespectful, but the majority of clients prefer us to deal directly with the builder.

We always welcome the involvement of the owner in these discussions so if you wish to be involved, please make your wishes known to your builder and to the Building Control Surveyor on the first visit. Unless confidential matters are involved we must request that you join the builder for the discussion so that everyone is party to the same conversation and to avoid duplication of visits.

If you do wish to have a confidential discussion with the Building Control Surveyor please contact them at any stage.

13. When I submitted my Full Plans application, amendments to the proposal were made by corresponding with my Agent and not myself - why?

If an agent is named on the application form we will assume that you wish us to deal directly with your Agent to resolve any technical issues in relation to the plans submitted. Your Agent will generally be better qualified to understand the technical issues and be able to resolve them. It is assumed that the Agent will keep you informed of progress and discuss any implications that amendments may have on the design of your project.

If at any stage you wish to be updated as to the progress of your application please contact the Building control Surveyor.

14. What if work has been carried out on my property without a building regulation being submitted?

Work carried out without an application is a contravention of the Building Regulations and therefore an illegal act and can be the subject of enforcement procedures. However, it is possible to make an application to regularise the works. This regularisation procedure can be used for all works as far back as 1985 and will provide the applicant with a formal certificate that can be produced if the property is sold. The certificate can only be issued if the Building Control Surveyor is satisfied that the works complied with the regulations in place at the time the works were carried out.

For more information on Regularisation applications refer to our information leaflet.

15. How long are plans valid for?

When plans are approved, the work must start within 3 years (from the date of submission of the application). If you wish to start the project and it is after 3 years you will need to submit another application which will need to be updated to comply with any changes in the regulations which have occurred in the intervening years.

16. What do I do on Completion?

When you think your work is finished you should contact the Building Control Surveyor to arrange for an inspection. If the works as far as can be ascertained appear to be satisfactory and it complies with the Building regulations, the Building Control Surveyor will issue a completion certificate. This is an important document which we recommend you keep in a safe place. It will be required if you wish to sell your property in the future.

If the works are found to be unsatisfactory upon inspection or there is insufficient information available, the Building Control Surveyor will indicate what works are deficient and/or any documentation which is still outstanding. Once work is completed or rectified as has been indicated and/or missing documentation has been provided, the Building Control Surveyor will then be in a position to issue the completion certificate. Of course this will usually require an additional inspection to be made.

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