To provide you with some insight before you begin your project, below is a brief introduction to the building regulations.
What are the Building Regulations?
The UK Building Regulations; otherwise known as approved documents; are a collection of standards to which all building design and construction works must adhere too. These apply all but the smallest of building works, therefore it is important to know when approval is needed and also to have an in depth knowledge of the requirements.
These Building Regulations are a set of detailed technical standards split into appropriate sections known as “Parts” from Part A to R. This series of documents detail the required criteria for all aspects of the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety, comfort and health for people in or about those buildings as well as ensuring that current thermal performance and required energy efficiencies are achieved. They also include requirements to ensure that structural integrity, drainage provisions, fire safety and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.
Building Regulation Approval is a separate entity to planning approval and as a rule of thumb is required even when planning permission is not.
Complying with building regulations requirements is the responsibility of the person carrying out the building work and, if they are not the same person, the owner of the building. Failure to do so can lead to prosecution through Magistrates Court.
How do I get Building Regulation approval?
Responsibility for checking that the Building Regulations are met during a construction project lies with Building Inspectors - either your Local Authority Building Control or Private Approved Inspectors. Who you appoint to provide this service is up to you.
There are two different approaches to making a building regulation application, either by a Full Plans Application or by Building Notice.
Full Plans Application
This is generally thought of the “traditional way” of applying for Building regulation approval and whilst this can take slightly longer, does mean that all proposals have been checked before you start on site.
The architect, or other suitably qualified person, will draw up detailed builder’s works construction plans and produce additional supporting information and specifications relating to the proposed scheme as required for the application. Once submitted, there will generally be some negotiations between the chosen building inspector and the architect to finalise the plans before an approval will be issued.
As a standard part of our service, Brightman Clarke Architects will submit your building regulation application and required information on your behalf whilst also co-ordinating with other necessary professionals such as Structural Engineers. We monitor the application and respond to any queries from Building control on your behalf to make this process as easy as possible for you.
Building work can start at any time once the application has been submitted and the building inspector has issued the correct notice, although it is advisable to proceed with construction works only once the scheme has at least received initial feedback and comments from the inspector, which usually takes a few weeks.
During the construction process, a building inspector will visit site at critical stages of the build to ensure that works are being carried out as agreed in line with Building Regulations. Once the project is satisfactorily completed they will then issue a Building Regulations Completion certificate, you must keep this safe for future reference as it may be required for home insurance or by solicitors at a later date should you wish to sell your home.
This system is best suited for small projects being carried out by a competent builder or contractor. Often no plans are submitted with the application and work can begin with 48 hours of notification.
Because there is no formal approval of plans/details before the work commences or any detailed plans to work from, this route is not recommended unless your builder/contractor is highly competent and has a full understanding of the Building Regulations.
When work commences, your builder with liaise with the Building Inspector to determine the relevant stages that the building control officer needs inspect to ensure that all works conform with the appropriate regulations as well as agreeing how the works should be carried out.
Similar to a Full Plans Application, a Building Regulations Completion certificate will be issued by the inspector once all works are completed to a satisfactory standard.
Can I use my planning drawings for the Building Regulation Approval?
No, planning drawings only contain information on the size, appearance and proposed external finishes required to achieve planning approval. They do not contain detailed information regarding the construction of your project to satisfy the regulations.
Even when working on a Builders Notice it is advisable to have a set of builder’s works drawings prepared with a high level of detail and construction notes on them. This extra detail makes it much easier to obtain an accurate price for a construction job and helps to reduce additional unexpected costs as the project progresses.
What type of works require Building Regulation Approval?
The following types of project amount to building work and require building regulations approval:
- The erection of or extension of a building.
- Conversion of existing spaces (Loft Conversions, Garage Conversions etc.)
- Barn Conversions and rehabilitation of other outbuildings into new homes.
- Alteration to an existing building that include structural alterations, access, electrical and plumbing services, alterations to fire protection / safety and many other alterations.
- Installing replacement windows using a builder or window company who are not FENSA registered
- The installation or extension of a service or fitting which is controlled under the regulations
- The insertion of retrospective insulation into a cavity wall
- The underpinning of foundations to an existing building.
- When you want to change the building’s fundamental use (for example converting a house into a pair of apartments)
- Renovation of a thermal element
- Change of a building’s energy status.
This is only a brief list and not exhaustive, some very minor alterations may apply because of the knock-on effect they have on the rest of the house, e.g. removal of an internal non-load bearing stud wall may impact fire safety and safe escape. If you have any doubts we advise that you seek advice from a building inspector or a professional, such as an architect.
Can I extend my home without building regulations?
There are particular types of small extensions that are exempt from building regulations, such as:
- Conservatories, Porches or other Covered Passages / Yards
- Carports with at least 2 open sides
- Detached Garages and outbuildings (made predominantly of non-combustible materials)
Conservatories and Porches
There are still some conditions that apply. The new floor area must be less than 30m2 and all glazing within porches & conservatories still needs to comply with the requirements of Approved Document Part N.
Conservatories must be formed with walls of at least 50% surface area glazed, 75% of roof areas glazed and existing external walls must remain in place between the existing house and space created. In addition, any openings into the conservatory from the dwelling must be fitted with external quality doors and windows to retain a “thermal Break” and no heating appliances must be installed within the unheated conservatory.
Garages and Outbuildings
Single storey detached garages, outbuildings, garden rooms and sheds etc. are exempt provided that they form less than 15m2 in floor area and contain no sleeping accommodation. Buildings between 15 - 30m2 floor area are still exempt if they are built at least 1 metre away from your site boundary and built predominantly in non-combustible materials.
Again, this information is a summary and advice should be sort before commencing work.
How much does a Building Regulation application cost?
The costs will vary depending on nature of the work, complexity and size. The costs also vary from one Inspectors to the next, unlike the planning system.