Q: Will my building project need building regulation approval?
A: Most building projects – even small extensions, knock-throughs or improvements – need to comply with the building regulations – even if they do not require planning permission. So it’s always best to ask for advice from your local council building control team. Or you can find out more in our householder section.
Q: What about smaller improvements around the home?
A: Some types of minor building or improvement works like putting up sheds, car ports or porches do not need to be signed off by a local council building inspector. The general rule is that if they are small (less than 30m2), or are built of non-combustible material, or are separated from nearby buildings or land and do not contain sleeping accommodation they are exempt – although it is best to check with your local building control team before starting work.
Other kinds of minor improvements – such as installing central heating or can be carried out by ‘competent persons’. Visit the competent persons’ website enter your postcode and the type of tradesperson for a list of competent tradespeople in your local area.
Q: What is the difference between planning permission and building regulations?
A: Planning permission is about deciding whether you can go ahead with a building project looking at its effect on neighbouring properties and the wider environment. In contrast Building Regulations set standards for design and construction and building control checks the work of builders and architects to make sure that projects are built properly and that when complete they are safe and comfortable for people to live in.
Q: How do I apply for building regulation approval?
A: Talk to your local council building control team who will be able to help you decide the most appropriate way to apply. There are generally two types of applications for building regulation approval: Full plans (usually for larger work) and Building Notices (usually for more minor works). For both of these you will have to pay a fee to your local council. Or find out more by reading our guidance on starting building work.
Q: I’m thinking of selling my home – will I need approval for building work I haven’t carried out?
A: If your home has improvement or extension work carried out by a previous owner – you will need to have the proper certification for it when you come to sell. If you do not have the relevant building certificates then you can apply for ‘regularisation’ – retrospective approval. A local council building surveyor will assess the work to see if it is up to standard and, if not, recommend improvements to bring it up to standard so they can issue the appropriate certificates. You will have to pay a fee to your local council. Or find out by watching our video
Q: How much will it cost?
A: That will depend on the nature of the project, the type of application and the local council area you live in. All local council building control teams are prevented from making a profit on their services – they can only charge for the cost of providing the service – unlike private profit making ‘Approved Inspectors’. You should contact your local council building control team to get more information.
Q: So how does the approval process work?
A: When your application is approved by your local council building control team they will usually provide you with an Inspection Service Plan before you start work. This outlines the stages of work they would like to inspect. It will vary depending on the size and complexity of your project, age of your home, the construction type, ground conditions and your builder’s experience.
You’ll need to inform your local council building control team when you start and when you reach the stages outlined in your Inspection Service Plan so they can carry out site visits. Once the work has been completed to the satisfaction of your local building control team they will issue a ‘Completion Certificate’ to show all the work is up to standard.
Q: How long does it take to process an application?
A: For an application by Building Notice, there are no detailed plans to inspect and approve so you can start work as soon as the notice is accepted – usually within 48 hours. With a Full Plans application the plans have to be thoroughly examined before being approved. And by law a council must give a decision on an application within five weeks of receiving it (unless it is extended with your written consent).
Approval of building plans lasts for three years and if you don’t start work in that time your council may serve you with a notice declaring your plans “of no effect”– meaning you will need to submit a fresh application.
Q: Can I appeal if my Full Plans application is rejected?
A: Plans can only be rejected because they do not meet the technical requirements of the building regulations. If so, your council will let you know and give you the chance to resubmit amended plans. If you do not agree with the council’s interpretation of the regulations, you can appeal to the Secretary of State for a ‘Determination'
Q: Do I need to tell my neighbours about my building plans?
A: Yes. You should discuss any proposed building work with those neighbours who are most likely to be affected – either by the finished structure or the building process through things like noise or dust.
And if the work involves shared walls or boundaries you may also need to get your neighbour’s formal agreement through a party wall agreement.
Q: What should I do if work has gone wrong?
A: If the complaint is about your own building work you should initially raise it with your builder. You should always use a reputable builder who is a member of a trade association – such as the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). They have a published complaints procedure which sets out what you can do if your building work has gone wrong.
Local council building control teams inspect building work and certify it meets building standards. And they have the power if they find work is not up to standard to ask the builder to bring it up to the required level. So if you have concerns about the quality of work on any building site you should contact the local council building control team – free of charge – to discuss your concerns.
For general advice on consumers’ rights about building work contact the local Citizen’s Advice Bureaux.
Q: Are there any penalties for not complying with the building regulations?
A: Yes. If your local council building control team judges the work not up to standard it has powers to order you to pull down or alter the work. Serious and persistent cases of failure to meet building standards can result in legal action and a fine.
Q: What are the Building Regulations?
A: The Regulations are a series of Approved Documents, known as ‘parts’ covering various aspects of building and construction:
• A Structure
• B Fire safety
• C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture
• D Toxic substances
• E Resistance to the passage of sound
• F Ventilation
• G Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency
• H Drainage and waste disposal
• J Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems
• K Protection from falling, collision and impact
• L Conservation of fuel and power
• M Access to and use of buildings
• N Glazing – safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning
• P Electrical safety
The documents can be downloaded at the Planning Portal guidance in the documents is not statutory and do not have to be followed. If you wish to design and construct your building work in some other way, you may do so providing you can show that it still complies with the relevant requirements of the regulations. The guidance in the Approved Documents will be taken into account when considering whether your plans of proposed work, or work in progress, comply with particular requirements. In addition, there is a legal presumption that if you have followed the guidance in the documents, this is evidence that your work has complied with the Building Regulations.