Building Regulations Approval

What are the Building Regulations?

Building regulations are minimum standards for design, construction and alterations to virtually every building. They are developed by the government and approved by Parliament.

Building regulations approval is different from planning permission and you might need both for your project.

Typically, planning permission answers the question, “can I build it?” whereas the Building Regulations answers the question of “how is it built”. Blink Architecture can complete a Building Regulation application on your behalf including detailed drawings. A set of Building Regulation drawings contains enough information for a contractor or builder to put a price to and for the project to be built. Planning drawings do not contain this level of detailed information.

If you are carrying out building work personally, it is very important that you understand how the building regulatory system and material applies to your situation as you are responsible for making sure that the work complies with the building regulations.

If you are employing a builder, the responsibility will usually be theirs – but you should confirm this at the very beginning. You should also bear in mind that if you are the owner of the building, it is ultimately you who may be served with an enforcement notice if the work does not comply with the regulations.

Some kinds of building projects are exempt from the Regulations, however generally if you are planning to carry out ‘Building Work’ as defined in Regulation 3 of the Building Regulations, then it must comply with the Building Regulations. This means that the Regulations will probably apply if you want to:

  • Put up a new building
  • Extend or alter an existing one
  • Provide services and/or fittings in a building such as washing and sanitary facilities, hot water cylinders, foul water and rainwater drainage, replacement windows, and fuel burning appliances of any type.

The works themselves must meet the relevant technical requirements in the Building Regulations and they must not make other fabric, services and fittings less compliant than they were before – or dangerous. For example, the provision of replacement double-glazing must not make compliance worse in relation to means of escape, air supply for combustion appliances and their flues and ventilation for health.

They may also apply to certain changes of use of an existing building. This is because the change of use may result in the building as a whole no longer complying with the requirements which will apply to its new type of use, and so having to be up-graded to meet additional requirements specified in the regulations for which building work may also be required.

In summary, the following types of project amount to ‘Building Work’:

  • The erection or extension of a building
  • The installation or extension of a service or fitting which is controlled under the regulations
  • An alteration project 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
  • The insertion of insulation into a cavity wall
  • The underpinning of the foundations of a building
  • Work affecting the thermal elements, energy status or energy performance of a building.

Before commencing work you should refer to Regulation 3 of the Building Regulations for the full meaning of ‘building work’ or, if you are unsure, seek advice.

To meet Building Regulations you either:

  • Submit a Full Plan Application to the local authority or private approved inspector. In this instance you pay a fee and the building control officer visits the site at the various stages of the build and inspects the work as it proceeds.
  • Submit a Building Notice. This is a statement in which you inform the local authority that you will be complying with the regulations in building your extension and gives the building control department 48 hours notice of your intention to start the work. Surveyors will come and inspect the work at various stages and will advise you of any problems.

The second method carries an element of risk because you do not have the benefit of an approved plan to work to and the building control surveyor may only know after you have contravened a regulation requirement. It could therefore prove to be an expensive way to build if problems are discovered that have to be rectified.

Generally the Buildi­ng Notice method is more suitable for simple works where detailed draw­ings are not required, but it can be used for any project, with the exception of work to listed buildings.

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