Building Regulations

A summary of Building Regulations and approval

Building regulations are the necessary and correct standards for: altering, designing and constructing, any type of building. Building regulations was first introduced by the UK Government; and then later approved by Parliament. Not to be confused with planning permission, Building regulations are a different set of regulations and; thus, you may need to apply for both, planning permission and building regulations, in order to complete certain building operations.

There is a fee required to make an application, and each fee varies, depending on the local authority, you apply to. However; this is regulated, by the Building Regulations 2010. By using a local authority building control service, there are three kinds of applications you can submit, in order to be approved. These include:

Full Plans
By submitting an application under this procedure, this means that you will need to provide all plans and details of construction activity, usually, well in advance of the commencement date of building work. The local authority, will then review your application, consulting with all relevant authorities, before making a decision, within five weeks. In certain circumstances, it can take up to a maximum of two months, but this is usually done with the consent of the applicant, from the deposit date. 
Once approved, you will receive a notice, confirming approval.

If the local authority is dissatisfied with your application, they may ask you to amend your application or provide further details. Conditional approvals can also be given; by written request of the applicant. This will enable the local authority to specify any alterations that must be made to plans and/or, additional plans, that must be submitted your local authority.  A full plans notice of approval is valid for three full years, from the date the plans were first submitted. If no building work has been carried out, during this period of time, then the local authority can also issue a notice, declaring the approval to be of no effect.

Building Notice
Submitting an application via this procedure, requires no plans to be submitted. Applying for a Building Notice is typically a much quicker process, than submitting a ‘Full Plans’ application. Usually, this process is preferred for smaller building projects, as it enables the work to commence swiftly. However; you will not have the same protection, as you would with a ‘Full Plans’ approval.

According to Planning Portal, there is a small list of restrictions that must be considered, before applying for a Building Notice.

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

  • For building work in relation to a building to which the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies, or will apply after the completion of the building work.
  • 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.”

By submitting an application under this procedure, it is very important, that you are confident that all building operations will be compliant with Building regulations. Otherwise, you may need to correct any work, if the local authority considers it to be in violation of Building regulations.
Building notices are usually valid for three full years. If no building work has been carried out, it will lapse automatically. Upon completion of work, that has been deemed ‘satisfactory’ by the local authority, you will receive a completion certificate. You may not ask for a determination or appeal, under this procedure.

Building operations that are conducted without Building regulations approval could result in the owner being prosecuted! As a means of allowing owners who would like to be approved for Building regulations, Regularisation, would then need to be sought. This is a process; in which, applicants can apply retrospectively; regarding any building works that have not been approved. If the local authority is in agreement, then they will issue a certificate of regularisation.

In certain circumstances, it is possible for the local authority to request alterations and even the removal of works, in order to be in full compliance with Building regulations. This is why it is crucial to discuss this with your local authority building control service department, before submitting an application for Regularisation.

Applications for Building regulations can be made directly to your local authority building control department and/or Approved Inspector. Planning Portal, provides, a comprehensive list (please also see an excerpt of this list below) of the most up to date versions of Approved Documents; which, supports the more technical aspects or “Parts” of the Building regulations. 

Approved Documents are usually compiled by the UK Government, providing a level of guidance, for matters of compliance, regarding the carrying out of building tasks. This of course, would include: Plumbing, extensions and also electrical work. It is up to the local authority to explain the correct procedures of providing notification, regarding each regulation, at various stages of the building work.

When do you need them?

As Building regulations applies to many types of building work, it is crucial to understand when to seek approval. Approved Inspectors and/or Local authorities (particularly the building control department), are responsible for checking that all Building regulations have been met.
Certain works, requiring Building regulations approval include (but are not limited to):

– The replacing of roof coverings on either flat or pitched roofs.
– The installation of heating systems.
– Amendments to electrical work done near showers and/or baths.
– Installations of any fixed air-conditioning systems.
– The replacement of a heating system.
– The replacement of windows and doors.
– Adding additional radiators to an existing heating system.
– Bathroom installations that involve plumbing.
– The replacement of fuse boxes and connected circuitry.

Having said this, the person/s carrying out the building work ultimately has the choice of deciding where to seek approval. At each stage of the building work, there should be a temporary cease of activity, to allow the local building control authority, time to carry out a formal inspection. It is after this inspection, that they will deem the work compliant or non-compliant with the Building regulations. 

Notice of commencement, must be given at least two days prior to the commencement of any building activity. Notice of the completion of work, must also be given, within five days, after the completion of all building activity. 

Regarding the other stages in between the date of commencement and completion of work, the notices that are required, must be given within a minimum of one full day, relating to the following:

– Excavation work; particularly for a foundation, before it is covered.
– The formation of the building’s foundation, before it is covered.
– All damp-proofing, before it is covered.
– All concrete (including any additional materials), that is overlaid, before it is covered.

It is important to note, that if the local authority are not kept up-to date, of each relevant stage of the building work for inspection, it may result in a notice given for the work to be declared and inspected. If then, the local authority decides, that the building work breaches Building regulations; they are at liberty of supplying an enforcement notice.  Enforcement notices have the power to require you to amend or completely remove all non-compliant works. However; enforcement notices, can be appealed against, if there is sufficient reason to believe, that a particular building operation, is in fact compliant with Building regulations.

These inspections that are carried out by the local authorities are not the same inspections that are associated with ‘full site supervisions’. So, by receiving a completion/final certificate, this does not necessarily mean, that a building operation is under guarantee or warranty.

How do you go about getting approved?

To reiterate – the responsibility of assessing whether building work is in compliance with Building regulations, rests with ‘Building Control Bodies’ (Also known as BCBs). There usually two kinds of BCB – a local authority building control service and also an approved inspector (Private Sector).

Local Building Control Services
Within the countries of England and Wales; particularly, Local Building Control Services, assist applicants, to comply with Building regulations, by providing accurate advice and feedback, regarding plans, as well as providing inspections on site.

– Approved Inspectors
Approved Inspectors, are usually either individuals or companies, within England and Wales, who are legally authorised under the Building Act 1984, to conduct building control work.

Also as an honourable mention, it is possible to gain approval through an individual or company who qualifies under the ‘Competent persons scheme’. The ‘Competent person self-certification scheme’, or ‘Competent persons scheme’ (for short), was first implemented by the UK Government in 2002.  This allows people who hold high levels of competency within their field of work to self-certify work according to Building regulations. This procedure can be a useful alternative to submitting a ‘Building Notice’, and/or using an ‘Approved Inspector’. Therefore, it allows an individual to save costs on fees and inspections from the local authority.

As a customer, you have the choice in deciding who you would prefer to submit an application to, regarding your building project. If you should employ a builder or a team of builders, then it is highly recommended that you get written confirmation, before the commencement of work, that:

– They will be responsible for carrying out work that is in compliance with Building regulations.
– They will be responsible for all correspondence with the BCB you have chosen to use.
– If applicable, a declaration, stating that they are registered with a regarded ‘Competent Persons Scheme.’ (This is so, they are also able to self-certify, some or even all aspects of the building work.
–  If you do require planning permission, it is agreed upon who will be responsible in obtaining this (before any building work commences), from the: applicant, builder, or architect (designer).

References & Topic Research (Bibliography),Inspector%20for%20building%20regulations%20approval.

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