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  • Proposing Building Changes

    About Building Regulation

    They are a series of standards for all buildings in the UK, which must be met. They apply to all design, construction and alteration work for any building project in the UK.

    The purpose of Building Regulations is to ensure that buildings meet the UK’s building standards, in 15 different categories, including structural integrity, accessibility, fire safety, sanitation, energy efficiency and water efficiency, to name but a few.

    About Planning Permissions

    Planning Permissions are specific permission for building construction or alteration or other structural development. They are formally-granted and must be applied for before the work can be undertaken.

    The purpose of Planning Permission is to review and limit the impact building development could have on the nearby environment and ensures the overall appearance of a building is suitable upon completion.

    Local authorities are responsible for deciding on permission being granted for every case in their area, while Parliament controls the national planning policy for authorities to follow.

    For anyone seeking planning permission, they must be the owner of the property, not simply a resident of the occupancy. IE – a tenant of a rented property cannot seek planning permission, whereas a homeowner could.

    In some cases, properties may have additional conditions which must be met. Considerations can depend on the property’s circumstances, such as; being within a conservation area, being grade 1/2/2* listed building or part of other heritage sites.

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    About Permitted Development

    Permitted Development rights are the specific allowances available to property owners for specific types of changes for their buildings.

    Permitted Development rights allow a property owner to extend a set percentage increase to the size of an existing building and some other building improvements – without the need for the local authorities to provide formal planning permission.

    The rules however, can differ across the UK and apply separately in England, Wales, Northern Ireland & Scotland.

    Rules for Permitted Development is generally quite strict, so for any work that may be considered, it would be recommended to check with a qualified surveyor or the respective planning offices for local authorities, to ensure that this is explicitly applicable to Permitted Development rights.

    Building Regulations

    The purpose of Building Regulations is to ensure all buildings and properties are compliant with UK standards, which can verify any changes made and standards are enforced.

    There are 15 types of regulation – all of which are to ensure that buildings in the UK meet sufficient standards of safety, accessibility, structural soundness, energy efficiency and water efficiency.

    Below are the 15 approved documents of Building Regulations to be met:

    • Part A: Structural safety
    • Part B: Fire safety
    • Part C: Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture
    • Part D: Toxic substances
    • Part E: Resistance to sound
    • Part F: Ventilation
    • Part G: Sanitation, hot water and water efficiency
    • Part H: Drainage and waste disposal
    • Part J: Heating and appliances
    • 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 safety
    • Part P: Electrical safety
    • Part Q: Security

    What Is Building Control

    Building Control Services are to ensure that all buildings designed and constructed in the UK meet the UK’s Building Regulations.

    There should be Building Control Departments for every UK local council, with Building Control officers, to review applications and conduct any inspections for local sites.

    Also, there are private and approved inspectors who can be hired to conduct the duties on behalf of the Local Authority’s Building Control officers.

    Sign Off & Approval

    Before any changes or alterations to your home are undertaken, you should first check that if the changes would need signed off approval as Building Regulation compliant.

    For further details on Building Regulation approval can be found here;

    Depending on the alterations or changes that are planned, the approval required may differ, predominantly depending on the significance of the plans. Specifically, changes could be either; requiring approval from local authority’s Building Control, approval from a competent person that can self-certify changes or simply that the changes may not require any approval, particularly if the changes are minor.

    Examples Of Work Requiring Building Regulation Approval:

    • Loft conversions
    • Garage conversions
    • Underpinning
    • Cavity wall insulation
    • Extensions or construction of an existing building
    • Any work which could affect a building’s thermal elements, energy efficiency or energy status
    • Any significant alterations affecting the compliance of the building (temporarily or permanently)

    Building Control Approval

    Projects that need to meet Building Regulations must be approved by Building Control officers from the local authority or an approved private inspector.

    There are 3 types of application for building control:

    • Full Planning - providing thorough plans for the work, including visual designs and any other relevant information. Decisions are made within 5 weeks typically, but this can be extended for 2 months with the submitter’s consent (such as for much longer-term plans).
    • Building Notice – minimal information is submitted, instead the work will be inspected during development, to be approved on completion if standards are met. Typically, this is used for smaller projects, although it does not receive formal approval as Full Plan applications would.
    • Regularisation – this is an application for work that has already been completed, to be approved retrospectively by being inspected and tested to meet the Building Regulations. This may, however, require modifications to be made based on inspections to meet the standards, before being reviewed after the required modifications.

    In any project that is approved, there will be regular inspections from the Building Control Service for different stages of development. This is to ensure that standards are being met. There should be notice provided to allow the BCS sufficient time to inspect the site properly. If a private, approved inspector is being hired instead, both parties should jointly notify the local authority to confirm that this inspector is fulfilling the role of Building Control officer for the project.

    Additionally, you can check if your proposed project needs Building Control or Planning Permission here.

    Building Control Bodies

    There are 2 types of Building Control Body (BCB) – which are able to approve on applications.

    • Local Authority BCBs – your local authority’s own building controls, who will review applications before approving/rejecting. Submission of applications will require; necessary forms to be completed, any related documentation and plans for the changes provided a fee for the application to be paid (which can be done via their fee calculator)
    • Applications can be submitted online via
    • Private BCBs – applications can be submitted to the local authority on your behalf of an approved, private inspector that can review the changes. They would notify the local authority about the work, known as ‘initial notice’. Approved Private Inspectors can be found on this register for England & Wales, this may vary for other regions

    For further information regarding BCBs, please see here

    Competent Person Approval

    For some types of projects, there is a need to comply with Building Regulations where the installer can certify and sign off the work themselves. This does depend on the tradesperson being registered with a Competent Person scheme.

    Tradespeople registered with a Competent Person Scheme ensures that the tradesperson has been properly checked to ensure they have sufficient qualifications and can conduct work to Building Regulations. Registered Tradespeople will be able to notify Building Control for the work completed on behalf of the property owner and provide a certificate for the work upon completion.

    Types of work that can be self-certified by a competent person:

    • Air Conditioning System repairs
    • Window Installation
    • Door Installation
    • Heating/Boiler System Installation/Replacement
    • Oil Tank Installation/Replacement
    • Installation/Replacement of a Fuse Box / Consumer Unit
    • Additional Electrical Circuits connected to the Fuse Box
    • Electrical Installation around Baths / Showers
    • Installation of Bathroom including new/altered plumbing
    • Roof Covering replacements (pitched/flat roofs)

    If a non-registered tradesperson were used, the property owner would then need to inform their local authority’s Building Control (which would then incur a fee for their inspection) to be certified correctly.

    Changes Not Requiring Approval

    For some projects, they are fairly minor, so do not require any kind of formal approval – they can be conducted by the homeowner/property owner without delay.

    Below are some common examples of work that is exempt from Building Regulations:

    • Most instances of repair/replacement/maintenance work
    • Changes to existing electrical circuits, such as additional lighting points or power points
    • Direct Replacements of features, such as; toilets, sinks, basins, baths

    Responsibility of Building Regulations

    While the building owner will be responsible for a building being compliant with Building Regulations in the end. For example, if a building is damaged during their ownership, making the building non-compliant – this would be the owner’s responsibility to be repaired to meet regulations.

    However, for work being conducted by a tradesperson, the responsibility to ensure the work is compliant with Building Regulations is theirs. As discussed, a registered tradesperson will be able to certify the work & notify local Building Control about the work completed to sufficient standard.

    If Building Regulations Are Not Met

    For any building which local Building Control has deemed non-compliant with Building Regulations, the building will not be provided any certification. if issues are not rectified there is the possibility of being served notices and fines, details can be found here; Building Regulations. Additionally, compliancy with Building Regulations will be visible via any local land searches – which could be impactful if ever reselling the non-compliant property.

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