What are Building Regulations?

building regulations introduction

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 are a set of standards for construction and design that apply to most building work, therefore it is important to know when approval is needed. 

The Building Regulations are a set of detailed technical standards which set minimum requirements for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved, insulations levels, structure, drainage, fie safety and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.

The Building Regulation Approval is a separate approval from planning permission is should be done once a planning approval has been acquired.

Meeting the requirements of the building regulations 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?

The responsibility for checking that the Building Regulations have been met on a construction project lies with Building Control Bodies - either from the Local Authority or the private sector as an Approved Inspector.  You have a choice as to which body you use to gain approval.

There are two ways of 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.  The architect, or other suitably qualified person, will draw up detailed construction plans and supporting information for the proposed scheme which are required for the application.  After submission of the application, 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 Architects will submit your building regulation application and coordinate all of the information on your behalf.  We will monitor the application, respond to any queries from the Building inspector, and keep you updated with its progress to make the 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 wise to wait until the scheme has had its initial check by the inspector, which usually takes a few weeks.

During the construction process, a building inspector will visit site periodically to inspect that the works are being carried out as agreed in line with Building Regulations.  Once the project is satisfactorily completed a Building Regulations Completion certificate will be issued by the inspector.


Building Notice

This system is best suited for small projects by a competent builder or contractor.  No plans are submitted with the application and work can begin 48 hours after the Building Notice has been accepted.

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, a Building Inspector will visit site and discuss the works with your builder and agree how the work should be carried out.  The work will have to be inspected on a regular basis to ensure that it conforms with the regulations and the agreement with the Building Inspector.

Similar to the Full Plans Application, once the project is satisfactorily completed a Building Regulations Completion certificate will be issued by the inspector.


Can I use my planning drawings for the Building Regulation Approval?

No, planning drawings only contain information on the size, appearance and materials used to acquire a planning approval.  They do not contain enough detail regarding the construction of your project to satisfy the regulations.

It is important to have a set of building regulation drawings 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 avoid additional costs as the project progresses.


What type of work require Building regulation Approval?

The following types of project amount to building work and will need building regulations approval:

  • The erection or extension of a building (including conversions of internal spaces, such as loft and garage conversions).
  • An alteration involving work which will temporarily or permanently affect the ongoing compliance of the building, service or fitting with the requirements relating to structure, fire, or access to and use of buildings
  • Installing replacement windows using a builder or window company which is not FENSA registered
  • The installation or extension of a service or fitting which is controlled under the regulations
  • The insertion of insulation into a cavity wall
  • The underpinning of the foundations of a building, or any structural alterations (including forming a new opening in a wall)
  • When you want to change the building’s fundamental use
  • Renovation of a thermal element
  • Change of a building’s energy status.

This is only a brief list and is 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 you should seek the advice of 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

There are still some conditions that still apply. The new floor area must be less than 30m2 and any glazing in conservatories & porches must still meet the requirements of Part N Building Regulations.

Conservatories must have at least 75% glazing on the roof & at least 50% glazing in the walls and maintain existing walls, windows & doors from the existing house.  There must be a thermal break between the existing house and the new conservatory.

Single storey detached buildings (such as garages, sheds & greenhouses) are exempt if less than 15m2 in floor area and contain no sleeping accommodation. Buildings between 15 - 30m2 floor area are still sometimes exempt if they are built at least 1 metre away from your site boundary.

Again, this information is a summary and advice should be sort before progressing with any works.


How much does a Building Regulation application cost?

The costs will vary depending on nature of the work and how large your project is.  The costs also vary from one Local Authority to the next, unlike the planning system. 




For further informal advice and planning guidance, please feel free to contact us.


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