Building Regulations

Building regulations (England and Wales) and Building Standards (Scotland) are the national standards that make sure buildings are safe, warm and dry.

Building Regulation applications are needed for most construction projects; you can use our MyLABC tool to find and talk to your local Building Control office for the best advice and guidance before you begin your project - usually at no cost and potentially saving you time and money.

Work covered by the Building Regulations

Here's a list of the typical types of home improvement works that require building regulations.

New Build

  • All new buildings except agricultural buildings
  • Garages that are not fully detached and under 30m2

Extensions

  • All extensions no matter how small
  • Some conservatories and porches - many are exempt but they must be separated from the house by doors and can't be heated
  • Roof extensions, balconies and roof terraces
  • Basements and basement extensions

Conversions

  • All loft conversions, roof extensions, balconies and roof terraces
  • All garage conversions
  • Barn conversions
  • Subdividing a house into flats
  • Converting flats back into a house

Alterations

  • Creating a ‘granny annex’
  • Creating a new or en-suite bathroom or cloakroom
  • Installing a new kitchen
  • Taking out a loadbearing wall - you need to ask a structural engineer to confirm that your wall isn't supporting the walls, floors or roof above it
  • Taking out a non-loadbearing wall if it separates a room from your hall, staircase or landing
  • New installation or replacement of a heating system or any boiler, regardless of fuel type
  • New installation or replacement of an oil tank
  • Installation of a new bathroom if existing plumbing is altered or if new plumbing is installed
  • Installation of fixed air conditioning systems
  • Installation of additional radiators to some existing heating systems
  • Replacement fuse boxes, any new electrical installation connected to the fuse box and alterations to electrical installations in bathrooms around the bath or shower replacement window and door units
  • Installing roof lights
  • Making windows or doors wider or taller
  • Replacement of roof coverings on pitched and flat roofs even if this is just like for like
  • Replacing your floor
Work that isn’t covered by the Building Regulations

Some work such as the projects listed below can be carried out without informing Building Control – if you are in any doubt, however, they are there to help.

  • Most repairs, replacements and maintenance work (except replacements of combustion appliances, oil tanks, electrical fuse boxes or glazing units which do need to be notified)
  • Additional power points or lighting points or any other alterations to existing circuits (except around baths and showers)
  • Like for like replacements of baths, toilets, basins or sinks

The building regulations do not cover some types of building work and these are referred to as 'exempt' work. They include sheds, summerhouses, conservatories, porches, satellite dishes, detached garages and carports.

However, before these can be declared ‘exempt’ from the building regulations they have to meet certain criteria.

What are the Exemptions?

A number of minor buildings are exempt from the Building Regulations, as listed below. Full details can be found in Schedule 2 of the Building Regulations and it is recommended that proposals for such buildings are run through a Building Control office:

  • Detached buildings not normally used by people;
  • Agricultural buildings;
  • Greenhouses;
  • Buildings for the keeping of animals;
  • Temporary buildings in place for less that 28 days;
  • Construction site and sales offices;
  • Small detached buildings less that 15m2 with no sleeping accommodation;
  • Small single storey detached buildings less than 30m2 with no sleeping accommodation and that are more than one metre from boundary or constructed of non-combustible materials;
  • Ground level extensions less than 30m2 floor area consisting of a conservatory, covered yard, covered way, porch or a carport open on at least two sides.

The Government has recently been reviewing this last exemption as it applies to conservatories and porches because of the carbon losses which can occur.

Applying the Regulations

Unless the work you propose is exempt, you must gain approval for your proposal from the relevant local authority. This can be done by making an application to the relevant local authority prior to the start of the work. Applications are in two forms: Full Plans & Building Notice.

Carrying out the work: Building Control Surveyors will inspect the work at statutory and crucial stages. Persons carrying out the work should liaise with the local authority to match the inspection regime with the contractor’s programme, and also give notice of commencement.

Completion: A final inspection will be made upon completion, so the local authority can issue a Completion Certificate indicating compliance and clearance

Competent Persons: The regulations allow for certain specialist operations to be exempted; self certified; or subject to alternative quality and inspection regimes by accredited persons, such as:

  • Un-vented hot water systems - BBA or NACCB;
  • Gas installations - CORGI;
  • Replacement windows and doors - FENSA scheme;
  • Solid Fuel Boilers, etc - HETAS;
  • Oil Fired Boilers - OFTEC;
  • Electrical Installations in dwellings - see Part P.
What type of application do I need?

Full Plans

This is the most common type of application local authorities receive for building works. It requires detailed drawings to be submitted together with the relevant fee for the work being undertaken. The plans are checked and an approval notice is issued before work commences.

This process can take up to 8 weeks dependant on the project, but in most cases it will be completed well before this.

Building Notice

This is a simpler procedure generally used for minor works such as the removal of an internal load bearing wall, but cannot be used for commercial developments. A big advantage is that it allows work to start 48 hours after submission of the application as there is no plan checking involved before work begins.

For clarification on which application type would be suitable for your project and for information on the fees to be paid, speak to your local Building Control Office (Click HERE and enter your postcode to find your local office).

There are also procedures that need to be followed and notifications given to the local authority before, during and on completion of the project.

Retrospective regularisation applications

If the work has already recently started or possibly even been completed without proper consent, then a retrospective application can be made using a Regularisation form. You can even use this if the work was carried out by a former owner. Any work can potentially be regularised as long as it was carried out after the 11 November 1985.

The purpose of the process is to regularise the unauthorised works and obtain a certificate of regularisation. Depending on the circumstances, exposure, removal and/or rectification of works may be necessary to establish compliance with the Building Regulations.

It's best to contact your local authority Building Control Service to discuss your individual circumstances before submitting a regularisation application.

Building Regulation applications must be made to the local authority where the work is being carried out and each authority uses their own forms. You can also now use the LABC Portal to quickly and efficiently send your application.

Make an online application

Using the LABC portal you're be able to submit your building regulation application direct to the building control team.

Approved Documents - England

The Regulations contain minimum requirements to ensure our buildings comply. These minimum standards are referred to as requirements A to Q, and each of these parts refers to different aspects of work e.g. A = structure, B = fire safety, F = ventilation etc.

Every part also has its own accompanying Approved Document which explains how to meet the Regulations.

The approved documents are available to download below.

Part A - Structure

Part B - Fire Safety

Part C - Site Preparation & Resistance to Contaminants & Moisture

Part D - Toxic Substances

Part E - Resistance to the passage of Sound

Part F - Ventilation

Part G - Sanitation, Hot Water Safety and Water Efficiency

Part H - Drainage and Waste Disposal

Part J - Combustion Appliances & Fuel Storage Systems

Part K - Protection from Falling, Collision and Impact

Part L - Conservation of Fuel & Power

Part M - Access to & Use of Buildings

Part P - Electrical Safety in Dwellings

Part Q - Security in Dwellings

Regulation 7 - Materials and Workmanship

Technical Handbooks - Scotland

The Technical Handbooks provide guidance on achieving the standards set in the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 and are available in two volumes, Domestic buildings and Non-domestic buildings.

Technical Handbooks for October 2015 (in force from 1 October 2015)

Changes have now been made to sections 2, 3, 4, 5 6 and 7 of the Technical Handbooks, (as a result of the Energy review and the Better Regulation review). These came into force on 1 October 2015. The 2015 Changes Summary document identifies the key changes.

The Domestic Handbooks are available for viewing and download below.

General

Structure

Fire

Environment

Safety

Noise

Energy

Sustainability

Appendix A - defined terms

Appendix B - list of standards

Approved Documents - Wales

The Regulations contain minimum requirements to ensure our buildings comply. These minimum standards are referred to as requirements A to P, and each of these parts refers to different aspects of work e.g. A = structure, B = fire safety, F = ventilation etc.

Every part also has its own accompanying Approved Document which explains how to meet the Regulations.

The approved documents are available to download below:

Part A - Structure

Part B - Fire Safety

Part C - Site Preparation & Resistance to Contaminants & Moisture

Part D - Toxic Substances

Part E - Resistance to the passage of Sound

Part F - Ventilation

Part G - Sanitation, Hot Water Safety and Water Efficiency

Part H - Drainage and Waste Disposal

Part J - Combustion Appliances & Fuel Storage Systems

Part K - Protection from Falling, Collision and Impact

Part L - Conservation of Fuel & Power

Part M - Access to & Use of Buildings

Part N - Glazing Safety in relation to Impact, opening & cleaning

Part P - Electrical Safety in Dwellings

Regulation 7 - Materials and workmanship

Service and procedures

Local authorities have a legal duty to administer and enforce the Building Regulations within the Building Control Performance Standards framework. To assist, the District Surveyors Association, has developed a Quality Performance Matrix (QPM).

The QPM is a blueprint of delivering a high quality, cost effective service, which takes into account the customer relations, formal consultations, informal liaison, third party issues and public accountability issues required by the Building Regulations process. Building Control legislation allows appeals to be made to local authorities or Courts, and determinations and relaxations to be sought from the ODPM. Quick dispute resolution of issues can be determined via the LABC’s Adjudication service at a regional level.

LABC Homeowner Guides

These give homeowners easy-to-understand advice on extensions, conversions, renovations and other projects. They explain the difference between building control and planning, as well as describing how the building regulations can be used to ensure good quality construction. They take typical projects and show how local authority building surveyors work with designers, architects, developers, builders and contractors to deliver a fully certificated job that is finished to a high quality.

Guide to Extending Your Home

Guide to Renovating Your Home

Guide to Converting Your Home

LABC Publishing is operated on LABC’s behalf by Zinc Media. This is an exclusive contract and no other publishing company has the authority to produce LABC publications. LABC publications are intended for home owners and local businesses in the building industry.