This section is a brief summary of the Building Regulations process and is not intended to cover all aspects of this process

First of all let’s clarify one thing…

Planning and Building Regulations are not the same. They are two different statutory processes.

The Building Regulations  are a legal requirement, introduced by the government, based on the Building Act 1984. The current legislation is the Building Regulations 2010  as amended. 

Most projects will require building regulations approval regardless of whether they have or need planning consent. They are needed to ensure that buildings comply with certain minimum standards for design, construction and alterations. They also contain requirements designed to ensure minimum standards for safety, health, welfare, energy efficiency, convenience and sustainability. They  set national standards on all aspects of construction including foundations, damp-proofing, structural stability, ventilation, insulation, fire protection, means of escape  in case of fire. They also ensure that adequate facilities for disabled people are provided in certain types of building.

You might also need building regulations approval for many alteration projects, including:

  • replacing fuse boxes and connected electrics
  • installing a bathroom that will involve plumbing
  • changing electrics near a bath or shower
  • putting in a fixed air-conditioning system
  • replacing windows and doors
  • replacing roof coverings on pitched and flat roofs
  • installing or replace a heating system
  • adding extra radiators to a heating system

You could need approval, or to follow special rules, for works not listed here.

The Building Regulations Application should  include all relevant drawings, construction and structural details, calculations and specifications needed to demonstrate compliance with the Regulations. Input from various other professions may be required.

With all building work, the owner of the property (or land) in question is ultimately responsible for complying with the relevant planning rules and building regulations (regardless of the need to apply for planning permission and/or building regulations approval or not).

Therefore, failure to comply with the relevant rules will result in the owner being liable for any remedial action (which could go as far as demolition and/or restoration). The general advice is to always discuss your proposals with the relevant Local Planning Authority and Building Control Service before starting work.


It’s not all about the drawings!

The application is normally submitted to the Building Control Department of the local authority or to a private sector, Approved Inspector.

  The application may take one of two forms:

a) Full Plans Application

The application forms should also include drawings, specification, thermal assessment, structural details and calculations and of course the appropriate fee. The local authority will check the submitted details and if they comply with the Building Regulations they will issue an Approval Notice. If they do not comply you will be asked to make amendments or submit further details to demonstrate compliance. Alternatively, the authority may issue a conditional approval setting our changes that need to be made or listing additional drawings that need to be submitted.

 The Building Control Officer will inspect key stages of the work as it progresses. A completion certificate will be issued, on completion.

b) Building Notice

Extract from the Planning Portal :

Plans are not required with this process so it’s quicker and less detailed than the full plans application. It is designed to enable some types of building work to get under way quickly; although it is perhaps best suited to small works.

There are also specific exclusions in the regulations as to when building notices cannot be used. These are:

  • For building work which is subject to section 1 of the Fire Precautions Act 1971
  • Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997
  • For work which will be built close to or over the top of rain water and foul drains shown on the ‘map of sewers’
  • Where a new building will front onto a private street

If you decide to use this procedure you need to be confident that the work will comply with the Building Regulations or you will risk having to correct any work you carry out if your local authority requests this. In this respect you do not have the protection provided by the approval of ‘full plans’.

Once you have given your ‘building notice’ and informed your local authority that you are about to start work, the work will be inspected as it progresses. You will be advised by the authority if the work does not comply with the Building Regulations. If before the start of work, or while work is in progress, your local authority requires further information such as structural design calculations or plans, you must supply the details requested.

A ‘building notice’ is valid for three years from the date the notice was given to the local authority, after which it will automatically lapse if the building work has not commenced.

A local authority is not required to issue a completion certificate under the building notice procedure and because no full plans are produced it is not possible to ask for a determination if your local authority says your work does not comply with the Building Regulations.