The Building Regulations are a set of minimum standards that your building project must adhere to in order to ensure your building is safe while also meeting requirements for higher standards of living.

In this guide, we’re going to be outlining what the key components of these regulations are as well as when you need to be adhering to them.

Why do we Need Building Regulations

Foremost, we are going to address why the Building Regulations are necessary.

As stated in the HM Government Manual to the Building Regulations, the Building Regulations are in place to protect people’s safety, health and welfare. They also set the standards for accessibility, water use, energy use and security.

Building Regulations and documents also give further guidance in a variety of common building situations and contain guidance on how to best meet these regulations.

Here are just some of the key areas that these regulations cover:

  • Materials and workmanship
  • Structural safety
  • Fire safety
  • Ventilation
  • Drainage and waste disposal
  • Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency
  • Access to and use of buildings
  • Electrical safety
  • Security
  • And more

You can find full details of all the requirements in the Building Regulations and whether they apply to your project on the relevant Government websites:

What’s the Difference Between Building Regulations and Planning Permission?

The planning process regulates the development and use of land. This means when you apply for planning permission, you are seeking permission to carry out your planned project.

Building Regulations are entirely objective. They are a set of rules that your building has to adhere to. While the regulations differ slightly between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, they cover the same essential areas and are judged on a pass or fail basis.

If you would like to learn more about when you need to obtain planning permission, read our blog below.

When do I need planning permission?

When Do Building Regulations Apply?

Before you beginning planning your project, it is essential that you are aware when the Building Regulations apply. It is always best to consult with a professional before you begin any new projects.

Instances where Building Regulations are likely to apply include:

  • Putting up a new building.
  • Changing or making bigger a building that has already been built.
  • Changing the use of a building that has already been built (such as barn conversions)
  • Altering the building services if they are what is legally called:
  • A ‘controlled service’
  • A ‘controlled fitting’

It is also important to note that any alterations made to an existing building don’t have adjacent fabric, services, or fittings less compliant with the Building Regulations than they previously were.

house building under construction

How Do You Get Building Regulations Approval?

There are a couple of routes you can take when it comes to obtaining Building Regulations approval. You can use the building control services of your local authority, or you can use and approved inspector.

Typically, it is better for you to use the building control services of your local authority for several reasons. Not only can they offer you advice and ask tough questions early on to help you find a solution, but they will ultimately save you a lot of time and money.

As an added bonus, building control officers are now able to provide the warranty which removes and extra level of inspection from the process.

How to Apply for Building Regulations Approval

If you choose to go forward with the building control officer with your local authority, then you will need to make an application for building control approval. There are three options when it comes to applying for Building Regulations approval which are:

  • A full plan submission giving detailed information of the proposed works ending with a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
  • A Building Notice which gives the building control 48 hours’ notice of your intention to start work. The regulation inspection will then take place as the work progresses.
  • Regularisation of Existing Building Works, which only occurs when works have been completed with no prior authorisation. This is the most expensive option and can lead to prosecution.

Each of these applications comes with their own advantages and disadvantages, but typically, the best choice of application is the full plan submission.

Please note that both full plan submissions and building notices are valid for three years and will lapse automatically if the building work is not started within that time.

Site inspections

Building control will continue to inspect your work as you go in order to ensure that you are complying with the correct regulation. This is done at the following stages:

  • Commencement
  • Excavation of foundations
  • Foundations laid
  • Oversite preparation
  • Damp proof course
  • Drains testing
  • Occupation prior to completion
  • Completion

When each of these stages in complete, you need to notify the inspector and allow 24 hours’ notice for them to complete their inspection. So long as your work is approved, you can carry on to the next stage of your project.

Completion Certificates

As soon as your project is completed, the approved inspector must issue a final completion certificate to the local authority saying that the work is finished, inspected and is in line with the current Building Regulations.

You can be fined up to £5,000 for completing work without inspections or a final sign off as well as being forced to redo the work.

We hope this guide helps you to understand the significance of Building Regulations and the impact on both your project and ability to sell your building after completion.

If you currently have a new project in mind and would like advice on how to get started, get in touch with us today and speak to an expert member of our team.

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