Having looked at Stage 3 - Planning Permission - of the five stages for a home build or redesign, we now take a look at the fourth stage - Building Control .
The Building Regulations 2010 are the minimum standards for design, construction and alterations to virtually every building. They are developed by the Government and approved by Parliament. It is important to realise that Building Regulations approval is different from Planning Permission and you may well need to obtain both.
While there are some exemptions, Building Regulations will normally apply if you want to:
Put up a new building
Extend or alter an existing one
Provide services and/or fittings in a building (e.g. washing and sanitary facilities, hot water cylinders, drainage, replacement windows, and fuel burning appliances).
They may also apply to certain changes of use of an existing building. So you must always check if you need approval before you construct or change buildings in certain ways.
If you are carrying out the building work yourself it is very important that you understand how the building regulatory system applies to your situation, as you will be responsible for making sure that the work complies with the building regulations.
If you are employing a builder, the responsibility will usually be theirs - but you should confirm this at the very beginning. You should also bear in mind that if you are the owner of the building, it is ultimately you who may be served with an enforcement notice if the work does not comply with the regulations.
You don’t need to get approval yourself if you use someone registered with a competent person scheme. Competent person schemes are a way for tradespeople to prove their ability to carry out certain work to required standards, instead of you applying for building regulations approval.
If you are unsure if you need approval, check with a building control body (BCB). There are 2 types of BCB and you can choose which one you use:
Local authority BCBs – whereby you can apply for approval from your council.
Private BCBs – whereby you can apply through a private approved inspector who will tell your local authority about the work. This is called giving an ‘initial notice’.
You must decide on the type of application for your planned build, extension or alteration work.
This is the most thorough option. You can expect a decision within 5 weeks, or 2 months with your consent. You’ll get a completion certificate within 8 weeks of completion of the building work as long as it complies.
This type of application is only for smaller projects. You can start work 2 days after your notice has been submitted to your BCB. You don’t get formal approval like you do with full plans.
For work carried out after 11th November 1985, you can apply for ‘regularisation’ from a local authority BCB only. This is retrospective approval for work already carried out without consent.
Penalties and Problems
If you do not comply with the Building Regulations there are a number of penalties that can be applied:
The person doing the work could be prosecuted and fined if they don’t comply with building regulations.
Your local authority could make you pay for faulty work to be fixed.
Without approval you won’t have the certificates of compliance you may need when you want to sell your home.
At BetterLivingSpace we offer expert advice on Planning and Building Control. Contact us for advice on this, or any other home build or improvement matters.
Next up: Stage 5 - The Build.