Building regulations - a guide

Do I need building regulations approval?

... to build an extension to my house?

Yes. However, a porch or conservatory built at ground level and under 30m² in floor area is exempt provided that a separation remains between it and the main dwelling and the glazing complies with the safety glazing requirements of the Building Regulations (Part N). The Building Control Surveyor can supply further information on safety glazing.

You should ensure that a conservatory is not constructed in such a manner that it restricts ladder access to windows serving a room in a roof or loft conversion where these are required for means of escape. You will need approval if a new opening is being formed to gain access to the conservatory.

However, if any of these buildings receives its electricity from a source shared with or located inside a dwelling, you must apply for approval for that electrical work unless it is being self certified by a registered competent person. 

... to build or alter a garden wall or boundary wall?

No. But, of course, you should make sure that the work is done safely to avoid future instability. A leaflet on safe construction of free-standing walls is available from the Council. 

... to build a garage extension to my house, shop or office?

Yes. But a car port extension built at ground level, open on at least two sides and under 30m² in floor area, is exempt.

However, if any of these buildings receives its electricity from a source shared with or located inside a dwelling, you must apply for permission for that electrical work unless it is being self certified by a registered competent person. 

... to build a detached garage?

Yes. But a single storey garage at ground floor level, with no sleeping accommodation, under 30m² in floor area is exempt provided either:

  1. it is constructed of substantially non-combustible material, or
  2. when built, it has a clear space of at least 1 metre from the boundaries of the property.

However, if any of these buildings receives its electricity from a source shared or located inside a dwelling an application for that electrical work will be required unless it is being self certified by a registered competent person. 

... for a loft conversion?

Yes. In all cases. Please see the Loft conversions  leaflet. 

... to make internal alterations within my house, shop or office?

In my house

Yes. If the alterations are to the structure such as the removal or part removal of a load bearing wall, joist, beam or chimney breast, or would affect fire precautions of a structural nature either inside or outside your house. You also need approval if, in altering a house, work is necessary to the drainage system or to maintain the means of escape in case of fire.

In my shop or office

Yes. As means of escape may be altered. 

... to install replacement windows in my house, shop or office?

Yes. (see our information on Replacement Windows) You may need approval unless:

  1. the window openings are not enlarged. If a larger opening is required, or if the frames to be replaced are load bearing, then a structural alteration will take place and approval will be required
  2. you do not remove those opening windows which are necessary as means of escape or required for ventilation.

... to install, alter or replace my shop front?

Yes. Because there are implications relating to structure, fire and access. 

... to carry out repairs to my house, shop or office?

No. If the repairs are of a minor nature. This includes replacing the felt to a flat roof, re-pointing and replacing floorboards. 

Yes. If the repair consists of more major works including underpinning. In the case of re-roofing works - approval under Building Regulations will be required.  

... to convert my house into flats?

Yes. This is a material change of use.

Such works may also come within the provisions of the Housing Act 1985 - Houses in Multiple Occupation. Further information can be obtained from H.M.O. Owners Handbook available from Environmental Health and Trading Standards 

See also leaflet No.15 - Flat conversions.

... to convert my house to a shop or office?

No.  If you are not proposing any building work to make the change. Where building work is proposed you probably will need approval if it affects the structure or means of escape in case of fire. 

... to convert part or all of my shop or office to a flat or house?

YES. This is a material change of use. 

... to install fittings and appliances within my house, shop or office?

  1. To install or alter the position of a WC, bath, etc?  Yes, unless the work involves only replacement of an existing fitting.
  2. To install or alter the position of a heating appliance?
    •  Gas. Yes. Unless the work is supervised by an approved installer under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1984.
    • Solid Fuel. Yes
    • Electric. No 
  3. To install hot water storage?  Yes. If the water heater is unvented (has no vent pipe to atmosphere) and has storage capacity greater than 15 litres. Such systems are required to be installed by competent persons. 

... to install or replace electric wiring?

Yes.  All new electrical wiring or electrical components for a house, flat or for any a small commercial building linked to domestic accommodation must be designed and installed in accordance with the new Part P of the Building Regulations.

Minor work such as replacing a socket outlet will only have to be done safely and in accordance with the manufacturers instructions, provided it is not in a sensitive location such as a kitchen. Even with this type of work, if you are not sure about how to install new wiring, electrical sockets etc. then don't! Get a qualified electrician who can do it safely and protect your family.

All other electrical work will have to be checked by one of two processes. You will have to show that you have complied with the Regulations by either:

  • having the work done by a competent person, or
  • making an application and having the work checked by
    • Building Control , or
    • a competent person

The simplest and quickest method is to have the work done by a competent person who is a member of a recognised scheme i.e. a person registered by BRE Certification Ltd, British Standards Institution, ELECSA Ltd, NICEIC Certification Services Ltd or NAPIT Certification Ltd. in respect of that type of work. They are allowed to certify their own work and they will tell the Council that the work has been properly installed and tested. Anyone who is a member of one of the self-certification schemes will be able to produce written proof of membership. If the electrician you intend to use claims membership of one of the schemes but cannot produce written proof, use somebody else. 

... to insert cavity wall insulation?

Yes

Building control

Email:

Tel: 020 8313 4313

Fax: 020 8313 4604

Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH