Building regulations - a guide
About the regulations
Building regulations are legal requirements aimed at achieving adequate standards of building work for the construction of domestic, commercial and industrial buildings. They are laid down by Parliament and are supported by separate documents containing practical and technical guidance on compliance, which are known as "Approved Documents". These are produced in several parts each relating to different parts of the Regulations e.g. Part A (Structure), Part B (Fire Safety) etc.
What is their purpose?
Their purpose is to ensure the minimum standard to secure the health and safety of people in or about buildings. They are also concerned with energy conservation and with access and facilities for disabled people both in public and commercial buildings including offices and shops.
Where can I obtain information on the standards to which I must build?
The "Approved Documents" both reproduce the legal requirements and give practical guidance on how to meet them. However, you are not obliged to use any particular solution in the Approved Documents if you prefer to meet the functional requirements of the Regulations in another way. If you do follow the guidance in the Approved Documents, that will be evidence tending to show that you have complied with the Regulations. If you do not follow the guidance it will be evidence tending to show that you have not complied. It will then be for you to demonstrate by other means that you have satisfied the requirement.
Unless you have a reasonable working knowledge of building construction, it would be advisable, before the work has started, to obtain professional advice (e.g. from an architect, a structural engineer or a building surveyor) and choose a recognised builder to carry out the work. It is also recommended that you consult the council's Building Control Surveyor in advance.
Separate guidance on procedures to be followed where the Fire Precautions Act 1971 also applies, is also available, in the case of the construction of offices, shops, factories and hotels.
Who administers the Regulations?
The Building Control Section of the local authority, for the full range of building work and all enforcement if a contravention occurs. Charges are also payable (see paragraph 23).
What do the Building Regulations Cover?
The Building Regulations cover building works as defined in Building Regulation 3. Thus, if you want to construct a new building, extend or alter an existing one, or provide fittings such as drains or heat producing appliances, washing and sanitary facilities and hot water storage (unvented hot water systems), the Building Regulations will probably apply. They may also 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 different requirements of the Regulations.
Also remember that some of the work that you undertake may not, at first sight, appear to be controlled but could, nevertheless, lead to contraventions of the Regulations. Also, other work, whether controlled or not, could have implications for the adjacent property (see paragraph 30). In such cases, or if there is any doubt, do not hesitate to consult the Council's Building Control Surveyors who will be pleased to advise. In more complicated matters they may advise you to seek professional advice.
Do my neighbours have the right to object to what is proposed in my Building Regulation application?
No. While there is no requirement in the Building Regulations for the council to consult neighbours it is prudent to do so and you should be careful that the work does not encroach on your neighbour's land since this could lead to bad feeling and possibly civil action against you for trespass. You will also need to consider if the Party Wall Act 1996 is applicable to your proposal. This is a matter of Private Law and is not administered by the council.
Objections can also be raised under other legislation, particularly if it is subject to approval under the Town and Country Planning Acts.
Remember that the Building Regulations are completely separate from planning legislation and the granting of approval under either does not give consent under the other. In some cases only Building Regulation approval will be needed and sometimes only Planning Permission, although in most cases both will be required. Please don't hesitate to seek advice at an early stage.
If I think my neighbour may be carrying out work without Building Regulation approval or not in accordance with the Regulations, can I complain?
Yes. If you have any worries of this kind contact us.