Guide to building regulations

Building regulations are there to look after all of us, now and in the future. They ensure the health and safety of people in and around all types of buildings and set out performance standards for construction. They also regulate energy conservation and access and facilities for disabled people.

Here’s our guide to building regulations. Check out this interactive guide which can tell you quickly and easily what permissions and regulations you need to adhere to for any job around the home.

Guide to building regulations

Guide to building regulations

Rule of law
Building regulation approval should not be confused with planning permission. They are two separate pieces of legislation and some projects may require both approvals. Others will need either one or the other.

Subject to certain exemptions, you need to comply with building regulations if you are erecting or extending a building. You also need to comply if you are making structural alterations to a building, including underpinning, removing a chimney breast, putting in a new window or door opening and removing an internal load-bearing wall.

The provision, extension or alteration of sanitary equipment, drainage, and certain heating and hot water systems requires compliance with building regulations, too.

If you're proposing a change of use for an existing building you'll have to comply, as you will when proposing access to and facilities within a building for people with disabilities.

The addition of insulation material in the cavity of an external wall also requires compliance with building regulations, as do all new electrics.

These jobs need building reg compliance
• Cavity wall insulation
• Converting the loft into a habitable room
• Structural changes such as removal, or part removal, of load-bearing walls
• A new boiler
• Re-roofing with a different material (heavier or lighter)
• Replacing windows or external doors
• All new electrical work
• Removing or rebuilding a major part of a wall

These jobs don't need building reg compliance
• Building a detached single storey building which does not exceed 30 sq metres with no sleeping accommodation, and is at least one metre from a boundary
• Building a shed or detached single-storey building less than 15 sq metres which has no sleeping accommodation, and at least one metre from a boundary
• Converting loft for storage only
• Minor electrical work, changing like for like.. ie switches, sockets, ceiling roses (unless in the kitchen, bathroom or outside)
• Building a conservatory, porch, covered yard or carport that's open on at least two sides against a building
• Minor repairs replacing like with like

How to comply
You have two routes to achieve compliance. The first method involves submitting full detailed plans, together with the appropriate forms and plan charge to the local planning department. The building control surveyors will examine the plans and, if the technical details accord with the building regulations, a notice of approval will be issued.

When work commences and at various stages of construction, your builder is required to notify the council about the status of the work. Inspections will be made to ensure that the works, including foundations, damp proof courses and drains are carried out satisfactorily. When the works are complete, a final inspection will be made and a certificate of completion issued if the works conform to the building regulations.

The second method is suited to structural alterations and small additions to residential property. There is no requirement to submit detailed plans but you do need to complete a building notice form, indicating your proposals and provide a scale block plan. This plan should show the position and size of any extensions and acceptance of your notice should take approximately two days.

Your builder is then required to notify the council at various stages of the work and all the necessary inspections will be carried out. When the work is complete your builder should request a final inspection and, if all the work is satisfactory, a certificate of completion will be issued.

The drawback of this method is that you do not have the benefit of prior approval of your scheme, as you do with the full plans route. Modification or alteration of your proposals may therefore be required as the work proceeds.

Not all work has to comply with Building Regulations. Small, detached buildings that contain no sleeping accommodation, greenhouses, porches, conservatories and carports are usually exempt. But check first with your local planning department. And don’t forget the interactive guide to building regulations and planning permission.