Building Control Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
When is it necessary to make a Building Regulations application?
An owner or occupier of a building is required by law to make a Building Regulations application to carry out the following works:
- The construction or extension of a building, unless the building type is exempt the Building Regulations
- The installation, extension or alteration of a controlled service or fitting in a building, typically heat-producing appliances/systems, sanitary accommodation, drainage works, unvented hot water systems and most electrical works
- A material alteration of a building, controlled service or fitting, such as a loft conversion or removal of the wall or carrying out works that could worsen the fire safety or disabled access provisions that already exist within a building
- A material change of use of a building such as converting either an integral or detached garage (in relation to domestic construction)
- The installation of cavity wall insulation in a building
- The underpinning of a building
Schedule 2 of regulation 9 of the Building Regulations states the details of the seven classes of buildings that are exempt Building Regulations.
However please note that whilst the erection of the buildings or extensions are exempt either an application should be made only for domestic electrical works or the electrical works should be carried out and certified under an approved Part P self-certification scheme. The classes of exemption and examples are as follows:
- Class 1 Buildings controlled by other legislation: Buildings subject to the explosives act, scheduled ancient monuments and certain buildings controlled by the Nuclear Installation Act
- Class 2 Buildings not frequented by people: Detached buildings greater than 1½ times its height from other buildings/curtilage of the site that people do not normally enter or just to maintain fixed machinery, etc
- Class 3 Greenhouses and agricultural buildings: Provided that no part of the building is a dwelling, the building is no closer than 1½ times its height from a building containing sleeping accommodation and the maximum travel distance to a fire exit in the building is 30m. However, the building must be used for agricultural uses
- Class 4 Temporary buildings: Buildings that are removed after 28 days use
- Class 5 Ancillary buildings: Buildings that are used on building sites for sales offices or site offices during the works, or buildings used in conjunction with mines or quarries
- Class 6 Small detached buildings: Such as sheds or garages that have floor areas of 15m² or less with no sleeping accommodation. A single-storey detached buildings with floor areas not exceeding 30m², built at least 1m from a boundary or constructed of substantially non-combustible material. An air raid or similar shelters up to 30m² provided any excavation is 1m plus the depth of the shelter away from any buildings
Class 7 Extension of certain buildings: A porch, conservatory, covered yard or carport and the erection of certain detached buildings
I am proposing to put a toilet in my cloakroom and install a beam in a load-bearing wall. As they are both internal, do I need to make a Building Regulations application?
Yes because the works are a material alteration and installation of a controlled service/fitting to the property, regardless of whether or not you need planning permission.
Do I need to make a Building Regulations application to alter the layout or remove partitions in a non-domestic building such as a shop, office or factory?
Yes even if the partitions are non-load bearing, as this is a means of escape and access, ventilation measures could end up being affected.
Do I need to get Building regulation approval for replacing my external window and doors?
Yes, you would need to make a Building Regulations application or you could get the work carried out by a person or company working under Fensa self-certification scheme.
Do I need to get Building regulation approval for replacing or providing a skylight or dormer window in my roof?
Yes, you would need to make a Building Regulations application as it is the provision of new or replacement glazing as well as being a structural (material) alteration if the opening is newly created and any roof timbers are cut or altered.
Is Building Regulation approval required for rewiring or carrying out electrical works in a house or dwelling?
Yes, the Building Regulations changed in January 2005 to include electrical work so an application should be made. Alternatively, the quickest way the electrical works can be carried out is by a competent person registered with an approved Part P self-certification scheme that can design, install, test and certify the works comply with the requirements of part P Electrical safety
Do I need to get Building regulation approval for converting my garage into an additional habitable room such as a playroom, study or bedroom?
Yes, even if the garage is integral or is detached, as the use of the garage has changed, the works may involve the renovation of thermal elements and the energy status of the garage will change.
Do I need to get Building regulation approval for converting my loft into an additional habitable room such as a playroom, study or bedroom?
Yes, as the loft would have only been designed and meant for storage. The conversion must be carried out to habitable standards, in terms of fire safety, structure, thermal and acoustic insulation, ventilation, and access.
Do I need to get Building regulation approval for converting my basement or cellar into an additional habitable room such as a playroom, study or bedroom?
Yes, as the basement or cellar would only have been designed and meant for storage. The conversion must be carried out to habitable standards, in terms of fire safety, structure, thermal and acoustic insulation, ventilation, and access.
Is Building Regulations approval required for repairs to a building?
No, provided the repairs are not of a large nature, such as the rebuilding of a wall or a small-scale replacement of existing works or materials on a like for like basis.
The regulations as to the installation of a new or replacement layer into a surface of a building element such as re-rendering require that where it is technically and economically feasible that insulation be introduced into such works.
Do I need to get Building regulation approval for providing a new heating system, replacing my old boiler or altering my heating system?
Yes, you would need to make a Building Regulations application or you could get the work carried out by a person or company working under one of the Odpm recognised self-certification schemes such as Gas Safe and Oftec for gas and oil-fired installations respectively.
Do I need to get Building regulation approval for renewing or providing a new oil or gas fuel storage tank for my heating system?
Yes, you would need to make a Building Regulations application or you could get the work carried out by a person or company working under one of the Odpm recognised self-certification schemes. The property owner does not have to make a Building Regulation Application, but the competent person has to provide a self-certification certificate to the customer and forward a copy or notice or certificate for the works to the various scheme administrators within 30 days of completion of the works.
The scheme administrators will then notify the relevant Local Authority, who will hold a register of competent person’s notifications for the works that have taken place in their area, details of which for a property may be disclosed as part of the Local Authority searches.
Do I need to make a Building Regulations application to build a balcony on to my house or elevated deck in my sloping garden?
Yes, you would need to make an application for the balcony. You would only have to make an application for the deck in the garden if it provided access to or from buildings with a height risk and performed a similar function to a balcony.
Do I need to get Building regulation approval for replacing a floor in my house?
Yes, you would need to make a Building Regulations application as it is a structural (material) alteration and it may be classed as a renovation of a thermal element.
Do I need to get Building regulation approval for changing a flat roof to a pitch?
Yes, you would need to make a Building Regulations application, as it is a structural (material) alteration. You should also check with the council to see if you need planning permission or other consents such as Listed Building or Conservation Area Consent.
Do I need to make a Building Regulations application to replace the roof tiles, slates or sheeting on my roof?
If you are altering or changing the roof structure or putting on a different type of coverage that is greater in weight than the original, you will need to make an application. You should also check with the council to see if you need planning permission or other consents such as Listed Building or Conservation Area Consent.
Do I need to make a Building Regulations application to build a Retaining wall or alter an existing Retaining wall?
No, if the wall is detached from the structure of the house or does not provide support to the house it does not matter how high or large it is. You should also check with the council to see if you need planning permission or other consents such as Listed Building or Conservation area Consent
Do I need to make a Building Regulations application to build a garden wall or boundary wall alter an existing wall?
No, provided the wall is not part of the structure of the house or does not provide support to the house. You should also check with the council to see if you need planning permission or other consents such as Listed Building or Conservation Area Consent.
Do I need to get Building regulation approval for the provision of a static Caravan site?
You will only need Building regulation approval for the erection of any non-exempt buildings on the site and the installation of any drainage systems, septic tanks or treatment plants. However, you should contact the council about other permissions that you may require, such as site licences or planning permission.
What happens if works have been carried out on a property without Building Regulations and can a retrospective application be made?
Only if works have been completed within the past 12 months can the Local Authority take court proceedings and require a Building Regulations application for works to be made and require the removal or alteration of any contravening works under Section 36 of the Building Act.
However, if the works were completed after 11th November 1985, an application can be made to the Local Authority with accompanying plans and details of the works and the appropriate fee, for a Regularisation Certificate. The Local Authority will issue this certificate after examining the plans and works on-site, including opening up and testing, if necessary, and carrying out any further works to enable compliance with the Building Regulations.
Alternatively, both the Local Authority and any private individual can apply to the courts for an injunction requiring the removal or alteration of offending works even if the 12-month limit has been exceeded.
How is a building regulations application made and to whom?
A building regulations application can be made to the Local Authority, either as a full plan or as a building notice application.
With a full plans application, a copy of the existing and proposed plans are submitted with a specification and an appropriate fee, which the Local Authority check for compliance with the building regulations.
The Local Authority has to issue a decision within five weeks of the plan’s submission, which can be extended by a further three weeks. The Local Authority then has to issue an approval, which may or may not be conditional or rejection within this period in relation to the submitted plans.
When works start on site the applicant has to notify the Local Authority of different stages of works so they can be inspected for compliance with the building regulations.
A Building Notice application is a very simple process that only requires the applicant to submit a completed form and the full appropriate fee forty-eight hours before works commence and the Local Authority have to accept it and cannot approve or reject it like a full plans application.
Works are then inspected at various stages on site but the Local Authority does have powers to ask for additional information so that compliance with the Building Regulations can be checked. However, a Building Notice cannot be submitted for works involving a means of escape in non-domestic or designated buildings, or flats containing common areas.
Alternatively, a building regulations application can be made to a person or body called an Approved Inspector, who will submit an Initial Notice to the Local Authority and can provide the applicant with a planning certificate. The Approved Inspector will check the works, both on paper and on-site, to ensure they comply with the requirements of the building regulations and at satisfactory completion will issue a completion certificate to both the applicant and the Local Authority.
For simple or specialist works such as electrical or heating & plumbing, a competent person registered with a Government approved competent person self-certification scheme can carry out the works.
The person ordering the work does not have to make a Building Regulation application as the scheme member designs, installs, tests and self certifies the work as complying with the relevant Building Regulations.
Details of these and other schemes can be found on www.communities.gov.uk under the Building Regulations section.
If this route is chosen, the property owner does not have to make a Building Regulation application, pay the associated fee, notify the Authority or have the works inspected by Building Control. However, the competent person has to provide a self-certification certificate to the customer and forward a copy or notice or certificate for the works (although sample inspections of installations may be done by the scheme administrators). The scheme administrators will then notify the relevant Local Authority, who will hold a register of Competent persons notifications for the work that has taken place in their area, details of which for a property may be disclosed as part of the Local Authority searches.
How long does a Building Regulations application remain valid?
A building regulations application remains valid for only three years from the date of submission. After three years, a new application is required if the works have not commenced.
By applying for building regulation approval will I automatically be given planning permission?
No, both planning legislation and building regulations are different legal requirements that you must meet, although in many cases it appears that applications are made to and administered by the same department or section of a Local Authority, they both require a separate application in addition to other consents such as listed building or highways consent.
Can people such as neighbours object and stop a building regulations application?
No, and the application, unlike planning permission is confidential to the parties involved in submitting it.
Do the requirements of the building regulations vary in England and Wales?
No, but in some areas, there may be local bylaws in place that have to be observed. Also, checking an application is down to the interpretation of the requirements of the individual surveyor concerned to a degree. However, different building regulation requirements and standards exist for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Are the powers of building regulations retrospective?
No, so if works were being carried out to a building and, for example, the existing lintels were discovered to be timber and were in sound condition and would be unaffected by the works or use of the building, you are not required to replace them. Similarly, the building regulations do not require you to provide extraction fans to an existing kitchen if it is not being extended or if the ventilation is unaltered.
When can I start work on the proposed building?
Once a full plan or Building Notice application is submitted, even though the Local Authority may not have approved or accepted the application, works can start within 48 hours of giving notice to the Local Authority, Or in the case of using an Approved Inspector, as soon as an Initial Notice is given to the Local Authority.
At what stages do the Local Authority or Approved Inspectors have to be notified for inspection of the works on site before they are covered over?
The Local Authority or Approved Inspector should be notified as follows:
- 48 hours before commencing works,
- 24 hours before covering: foundations, excavations, the foundation concrete, the damp proof course, oversite and drains
- 5 days before the occupation of a dwelling
The Local Authority or Approved Inspector may also require inspection of other or alternative stages of the works such as when fire safety, sound or thermal insulation, roof structure, floor joists or beams are fixed or incorporated into the works.
What happens if I carry out works and the appropriate notices are not given?
The Local Authority can serve a legal notice requiring the works to be taken down or opened up for inspection within a specified time limit.
What happens if the works do not comply with the requirements of the Building Regulations?
The Local Authority can issue a legal notice under Section 36 of the Building Act requiring the works to be altered or removed within 28 days and if this is not done then carry out the works themselves, bring court action and recover costs within six months of the offence.
However, a Section 36 notice cannot be served for works that are in accordance with the approved plans or for works that have been completed for 12 months or more, or 24 months or more for Approved Document L matters.
An appeals procedure exists to allow someone to appeal and produce a report from a suitably qualified person confirming compliance with the building regulations and recovery of associated costs.
Are fees payable for a building regulations application, if so when?
Fees are payable to either a Local Authority of Approved Inspector for a Building Regulations application and they will vary depending on what works are to be carried out and to whom the application is made. Local Authorities have to publish a scheme of charges and generally three schedules of charges exist for:
(1) New houses
(2) Domestic extensions and small buildings
(3) Other works category based upon the construction cost
If a full plans or Building Notice application is submitted, the fee must be paid in full. If the incorrect or no fee is submitted in either case, the application is not deemed to be valid.
Why do I have to pay a fee for making a building regulations application? What do I get for my money and what happens if I don’t pay?
The Local Authority and Approved Inspectors have to pay staff and their associated overheads, etc., to both administer and check your building regulations application and works on site. Building regulations sections within Local Authorities are now required to be self-financing so council taxpayers are not paying for private individuals or companies’ building regulations applications.
The application will be checked by qualified building control surveyors, including specialists where necessary, such as structural engineers, both on paper and at various stages on-site to ensure compliance with the building regulations.
Can I talk or discuss a building regulations application with the Local Authority or Approved Inspector prior to submission or if I have any queries during the works?
Yes, most Local Authorities and Approved Inspectors will discuss works at the design stage and are happy to become part of the design team, which will help ensure that building regulations are incorporated into the proposals at an early stage an ensure a trouble-free, speedy approval. Also, both Local Authorities or Approved Inspectors would rather you contact them or get them to visit the site if you have any queries or problems than find that works have been carried out incorrectly and require expensive and time-consuming removal or alteration. The role of building control is now viewed, in both the public and private sectors that of an enabling role rather than an enforcing role.
Does the design and proposed construction of a building have to comply with the guidance shown in the Approved Documents?
No, as there are many other ways of achieving compliance with the building regulations, such as calculations, British Standards or BBA Certification and in certain cases previous examples of works in use.
Can building control section supply me with copies of the Building Regulations (Approved Documents) so I can design my building project?
No, they cannot be supplied due to the cost and copyright issues; however, you can view copies of the Approved documents online. The FODDC have produced guidance documents, which are available to download from our website, for new dwellings, extensions and loft conversions.
The full plans application I have submitted to the Local Authority has been rejected. What are my options now?
You can resubmit with the required additional information to achieve compliance with the regulations or resubmit and ask for a conditional approval subject to the outstanding information being supplied when available. You could resubmit and ask the Local Authority to relax or dispense any requirements that you think cannot be resolved or our unachievable.