What is the purpose of the Building Regulations?

Local Government is responsible for policy on the Building Regulations, which exist to ensure the health, safety, welfare and convenience of people in and around buildings, and the energy efficiency of buildings. The regulations apply to new buildings and alterations of existing buildings in England and Wales, whether domestic, commercial or industrial.

The Building Regulations are approved by Parliament and deal with the minimum standards of design and building work for the construction of domestic, commercial and industrial buildings. In addition, they set out the definitions of what is regarded as building work and the procedures for ensuring that it meets the standards laid down. The Building Regulations also contain a list of requirements (referred to as Schedule 1), which are designed to ensure the health and safety of people in and around buildings; to provide for energy conservation; and to provide access and facilities for disabled people.

What do Building Regulations cover?

In total there are 16 Parts (A-H and J-R) to these requirements. They cover subjects such as structure, fire safety, ventilation, drainage, energy conservation, and access and facilities for disabled people. The requirements are expressed in broad, functional terms in order to give designers and builders the maximum flexibility in preparing their plans.

What are the Approved Documents?

Each Part of Schedule 1 to the regulations is supported by a separate document called an “Approved Document” which contains practical and technical guidance on ways in which the requirements can be met. These documents can be viewed in full at www.planningportal.gov.uk

Each Approved Document reproduces the requirements contained in the Building Regulations relevant to the subject area. This is followed by practical and technical guidance, with examples, on how the requirements can be met in some of the more common building situations. However, there may well be alternative ways of complying with the requirements to those shown in the Approved Documents. You are therefore under no obligation to adopt any particular solution in an Approved Document if you prefer to meet the relevant requirement(s) in some other way.

Who is an approved inspector?

It is not necessary to employ the council to complete building regulation approval. One can employ approved inspectors to check, approve and issue building completion certificates. One of the best known companies to provide this service is the NHBC, but small companies are available. With approved inspectors working directly for the client they are often better to deal with as they are more proactive and willing to provide advice and comment.

Public Building Control

Historically known as the District Surveyor, the approved inspector is an independent employed by the council. They typically work from the Councils office. Employing the council has the advantage that the inspector is local, they will know the area and the types of ground encountered. Their work is local meaning that they are closer to site. The council’s inspector has no tie to the builder. Which means they cut less slack and make sure the build is as it should be.

Private Building Control

The government allowed private building inspectors to be employed to oversee work. This was a role undertaken by NHBC, premier and other warranty providers. The inspector is typically not local and travel times result in “photos” being used for inspection.

What building work is covered by the Building Regulations?

Constructing a new building, extend, alter an existing one, or provide fittings in a building such as drains or heat-producing appliances, washing and sanitary facilities and hot water storage, changing windows, the Building Regulations will probably apply.

Change of use

Building Regulations often apply to certain changes of use of an existing building even though construction work may not be intended. This is because the change of use may involve the building having to meet different requirements of the Regulations. Do remember that although it may appear the Regulations do not apply to some of the work you wish to undertake, the end result of doing that work could lead to contraventions of the Regulations. Examples are conversion of single houses to Apartments, electrical, drainage, sound and thermal alterations will be necessary.

Unforeseen implications to building regulations

You should also recognise that some work – whether or not controlled – could have implications for adjacent property. In such cases it would be advisable to take professional advice. Some examples are:

  • removal of buttressing support to a party wall
  • underpinning of a part of a building
  • removal of a tree close to a wall of an adjoining property
  • the addition of floor screed to a balcony which may reduce the height of a safety barrier
  • building parapets which may increase snow accumulation and lead to excessive increase in loading on roofs
  • important: Whether or not the work is controlled due regard should, of course, be given to potential hazards arising and the need for safety precautions, for example to children in respect of the construction of a garden pond

Do I have to pay anything for the services of Building Regulations?

A charge is payable for the building regulations approval. You can choose to either employ the council or a private building inspector.Charges are set according to the type of work involved and scale of project. The council publishes the charges, which is available upon request. The basis for setting and making the charges is contained in The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998. Regulation 9 of these Regulations exempts from payment of a charge certain types of building work, which is solely required for disabled persons.

Full Plans application and a Building Notice cost?

A full plans application involves a two stage payment – one of which must be paid at the time you submit your plans (a ‘plan charge’), and another following the first inspection on site (an ‘inspection charge’). A ‘building notice charge’ will amount to the same as would be payable for a Full Plans application plus a site inspection; and is payable when you submit your building notice.

Is there any difference in cost between a Full Plans application and a Building Notice?

A full plans application involves a two stage payment – one of which must be paid at the time you submit your plans (a ‘plan charge’), and another following the first inspection on site (an ‘inspection charge’). A ‘building notice charge’ will amount to the same as would be payable for a Full Plans application plus a site inspection; and is payable when you submit your building notice.

What will the Building Inspector Do?

Full Plans Procedure

If you use the Full Plans procedure, we will check your plans and consult any appropriate authorities (such as fire and water authorities). If your plans comply with the Building Regulations you will receive a notice that they have been approved. If we are not satisfied you may be asked to make amendments or provide more details. Alternatively, a conditional approval may be issued. This will either specify modifications, which must be made to the plans; or will specify further plans, which must be deposited. If your plans are rejected the reasons will be stated in the notice. To complete full plans architectural drawings are required. Should you need an architect please contact us.

Building Notice Procedure

If you use the Building Notice procedure, as with Full Plans applications, the work will normally be inspected as it proceeds; but you will not receive any notice indicating whether your proposal has been passed or rejected. However, you will be advised where the work itself is found by the building control surveyor not to comply with the Regulations. If before commencement or while work is in progress, we require further information such as structural design calculations of plans, you must supply the details requested.

When can I start work?


Some work can be start under permitted development. It is worth obtaining a “Certificate of Lawfulness”.

  • Party Walls – Make sure you have agreement with Neighbours on the works
  • Listed building – If listed obtain the Listed Building Consent to alter

Building Control

Once you have submitted a Building Notice or Full Plans, you can start work at any time. However, you must give us a Commencement Notice at least two clear days (not including the day on which you give notice and any Saturday, Sunday, Bank or public holiday) before you start.

Health and Safety

On ALL jobs a Construction Phase Plan should be in place by the contractor.

Temporary works

The contractor should design the temporary works.

What happens if I do work without approval?

The Council has a general duty to see that building work complies with the Regulations – except where it is formally under the control of an Approved Inspector. Where the Council is controlling the work and finds after its completion that it does not comply, then we may require you to alter or remove it. If you fail to do this we may serve a notice requiring you to do so and you will be liable for the costs.

Retrospective building regulations approval

If work is completed, even years ago, without approval, a regularisation notice can be applied for. The works will need to comply with the current codes and may need to be upgraded. Croft can help with this process.

Will I get a completion certificate upon completion of the works?

When the work is completed (excluding decorating and furnishing) you must arrange for a completion inspection by your building control officer. A completion certificate will be issued providing the work is satisfactory. It is strongly recommended that this completion certificate is obtained before final payment is made to the contractor. There may be outstanding issues you are unaware of! Solicitors may also require a copy of this certificate, which confirms that the work has been completed in accordance with the Building Regulations.