Renovating your property can be an exciting prospect, but complications can soon come into play, not to mention the additional expenses of applying for building regulations and their inspections.

Which is why we would like to inspire your future plans and projects with this article that centres around what you can do without needing building regulations approval!

For expert advice throughout your renovation journey, you can contact our team at Martin Perry Associates. We offer an array of services such as our charted surveyors in Cornwall who would be happy to help with your project.

Building Regulations vs Planning Permission

Firstly, it is important to understand the difference between applying for planning permission and Building Regulations as very often the two are confused.

The two applications are considered under different laws as they are separate pieces of legislation. It is possible to need both, one of the two or neither.

Planning Permission

Planning permission is in place so the development of local towns, cities and countryside are overseen. This encompasses the use of land, buildings (including their appearance), landscaping, highway access and the impact of these plans on the surrounding environment.

The Local Planning Authorities are given the ability by the government to accept and decline where and what people build, as well as what they choose to do with land.

Planning permission takes into consideration all factors included in the development and will assess whether the development is in accordance with local and national policies.

Factors that are thoughtfully measured consist of things such as if unacceptable harm will be caused, such as if the neighbours’ amenities will be affected.

A hand holding a black pen over a construction plan

Building Regulations

Building Regulations cover the structural aspects of the prospective development as well as the progress throughout the construction. They are standards that ensure the structure itself is safe for those in the surrounding area.

The regulations are a collective of approved documents that cover the technical aspects of the construction work, such as:

  • Structural integrity
  • Electrical safety
  • Heating appliance installation
  • Fire hazards
  • Plumbing
  • Ventilation

Building work that consists of new developments, alterations or a change of use will often require Building Regulations approval. This will often include:

  • Extensions
  • Loft conversions
  • Garage conversions
  • Structural alterations
  • Cavity Insulation
  • Altering the use of the property
  • Underpinning
  • Drainage work

A wall with a green ladder in front of it

What Projects Can I Do Without Building Regulations?

There are plenty of jobs that can be done by yourself or a hired service that won’t require a Building Regulations application.

Although these projects may not require building regulations approval, they may still need planning permission, so you should always double check. To ensure your plans comply with your local building regulations you can check through the planning portal.

The following are common renovations that will generally not require approval:

  • Bathroom renovations such as bath, sink, basin or toilet replacement.
  • Existing circuit alterations that are not situated near baths or showers.
  • Alterations to lighting
  • Additional power points.
  • Greenhouses.
  • Most repairs and replacements.
  • Boundary wall or garden wall repairs, fences and gates.
  • Maintenance work.

The following buildings do not need approval from building regulations. These can be altered provided they are not used for retail, packing or exhibiting.

  • Greenhouses
  • Some agricultural buildings
  • Temporary buildings that are erected for less than 28 days
  • Some ancillary buildings
  • Some small, detached buildings
  • Buildings that are not frequented by people
  • Detached single storey buildings – including some garages
  • Carports open on at least two sides
  • Covered yards
  • Unheated conservatories and porches that are separated by a door
  • Crown property

Whatever your project, it’s still important to check that it complies with the rules and regulations.

The interior of a greenhouse.

What Projects Can I Do Without Planning Permission?

Below are some projects that you can do without the need to apply for planning permission. Although, some of these projects may require building regulations approval.

  • The addition of a swimming pool that takes up no more than half the garden.
  • Internal remodelling (this will need building regulations for structural adaptions).
  • The addition of a porch that is no higher than 3m.
  • Installation of gates, walls and/or fences.
  • Converting an attached building, such as a garage.
  • Loft conversion.
  • The addition of a shed or outbuilding.
  • Garden decking.
  • Solar panels, but they cannot protrude more than 200mm above the wall or roof. The highest part of the panel cannot be above the highest part of the roof, excluding the chimney.
  • Converting a commercial or industrial building into a residential property.

If you are embarking on a renovation project and need the help of structural engineers or chartered surveyors, get in touch with our team at Martin Perry Associates to find out how we could make your renovation journey smoother.