Building regulations: What are they and when do you need them?

Our guide to building regulations cover all you need to know, from what they are, when you need them and how we ensure you are compliant.

What are the building regulations?

The Building Regulations deal with the technical requirements of construction and are provided in a series of documents known as the “approved documents” (AD).

Unlike the more subjective nature of the planning process, the building regulations are a more prescriptive set of compliance requirements.  They are set out under various sections as follows:

Part A – Structure

Part B – Fire safety

Part C – Site preparation and resistance to contaminates and moisture

Part D – Toxic substances

Part E – Resistance to sound

Part F – Ventilation

Part G – Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency

Part H – Drainage and waste disposal

Part J – Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems

Part K – Protection from falling, collision and impact

Part L – Conservation of fuel and power

Part M – Access to and use of buildings

Part N – Glazing ( withdrawn in 2013 and covered under Part K)

Part P – Electrical safety – Dwellings

Part Q – Security in dwellings

Part R – High-speed electronic communications networks

As Chartered professionals, we are well versed with the approved documents and we keep informed of any pending changes to ensure you are always compliant.

When is approval required?

You will need building regulations approval if you plan on making alterations or structural changes to your property. Works to the following areas will also require approval, but may be covered by a competent person scheme:

  • Drainage
  • Heat-producing appliances
  • Electrical works

English & Welsh regulations:

The Regulations are split into both English and Welsh versions and whilst similar, each country has its own set of the above listed approved documents. Being active on both sides of the border, we are familiar with both sets of regulations.

How do I get building regulations approval?

We will take care of everything for you at this stage. We will complete the design work, manage all other consultants and their package of information, make the application to the Local Authority or Approved Inspector* and assist with any conditions applied to your approval.

*Unlike the planning system which is fixed under the control of the Local Authority, in 2014 the Building Regulations approval process was opened out to  “Approved Inspectors”. These are individuals or companies that are licensed by the Construction Industry Council to provide Building Regulations approvals and carry out site inspections.

We complete the design, collaborating with other technical professionals required at this stage, including Structural Engineers, Energy Assessors, Mechanical and Electrical consultants, drainage and highways consultants, and lighting consultants.

When working on the technical design, we will develop the drawings, details and specifications to ensure they are compliant with the Regulations. They will clarify to both the Building Control Inspector and the Contractors on-site using the drawings and documents,  what is proposed, how to construct it and show it is compliant.

Clear, concise and detailed information is key. Our technical package is issued along with any additional consultant’s information to the inspecting authority for review and approval.

We have great working relationships with many Local Authority and Approved Inspectors and deliver an efficient and comprehensive design package to ensure your project is not only compliant, but the level and standard of information allow for a smooth, efficient delivery of the development on site. We have tailored this approach over many years and are often praised by other consultants, contractors and clients. It provides cost certainty, accuracy in the costing and building phases, minimising errors, cost discrepancies and reducing time on site, ultimately delivering the best value to all parties.

Applications are typically made online and payment for the application is made directly to the Local Authority / Approved Inspector.

How much does it cost?

Fees vary according to several factors such as the size and complexity of the project and how many inspections will be required. House extensions are typically in the range of £430-£675 inc VAT  A new dwelling will be in the region of £750 inc VAT.

Similarly, our fees vary from project to project and each is priced accordingly to reflect the size, complexity and likely time required to complete the necessary and level of information required.

We can work on projects which have gained planning consent with a different practice / Architect. We can develop such projects from this stage through to a fully detailed set of technical, building regulation compliant drawings. If you’ve obtained consent elsewhere or have purchased a site with planning consent in place, we are always happy to look at the technical requirements and will happily demonstrate examples of our work to give you and your selected contracting team the confidence to move forward.

Full plans or a Building Notice application?

There are two types of applications, they are known as a building notice and a full plans application.

The building notice can be used to commence with the works without the submission of detailed information. This puts the full responsibility for the compliance of the building works in the hands of the contractor.

The full plans application requires the submission of technical drawings and documents to be submitted for inspection and approval, before starting any works on site. This ensures compliance before any works have been implemented on site. The drawings will be assessed by the Building Control officer. Once satisfied, an approval certificate is issued and this may contain conditions that need to be addressed.

Most of our projects use a full plans application, as this not only provides security and confidence as the project moves forward, as it will have already demonstrated technical compliance with all of the Approved Documents. Our drawings are set out in a way that allows the contractors to price the works accurately and therefore with confidence. They also are sufficiently detailed to allow the various trades to construct the project on-site.  The drawings are well-considered and presented in a trade-friendly arrangement, allowing clarity for use on site. This provides greater accuracy at the outset when a project is being priced as ambiguity is removed from the pricing process.

Site inspections:

The inspecting officer, Local Authority, or the Approved Inspector, will visit the construction site at various key stages throughout the build. The main inspection stages are:

  • Excavation of foundations
  • Foundation concrete
  • Oversight
  • Damp-proof course (DPC)
  • Foul water drainage trenches
  • Surface water trenches
  • Roof / floor structures before plaster-boarding works
  • Second fix plumbing and electrical works

The Completion Certificate:

Once the building is completed and the inspecting officer is satisfied with the work, they will issue the completion certificate. This document is key and should be stored along with the planning approval documents should you ever sell the property, this information will be requested as evidence that the works completed and approved by the inspecting officer. If you’re working on a self build, this is typically the stage at which your final payment will be released, get your warranty certificate (NHBC / Premier etc) and is required to make your VAT claim.

Various other approved scheme documents and safety certificates will also be required for the Completion Certificate to be issued including:

  • Electrical safety certificate
  • SAP rating
  • Air pressure test results
  • Boiler / heating installation
  • Water Efficiency calculations (where the Fittings approach hasn’t been adopted)
  • Security
  • Fuel storage
  • Remediation of contaminated land
  • Chimneys and open flued appliances.

Once signed off and you are in receipt of the Completion Certificate, you can be assured the design works created at the application stage, have been successfully implemented by the contracting team and the works have met the standards required by the Building Regulations.