What Are Building Regulations?
Whether you have spent years or months finessing the perfectly designed home, or have managed to easily get planning permission for your property, there are still various standards that you will need to abide by, and these are set out in UK Building Regulations.
These are UK standards that ensure that the property in question and its surrounding and supporting structures are structurally sound and safe, covering everything from the foundations, energy consumption, electrics and access for those with disabilities. Of course, the building itself also needs to be safe.
By understanding what these regulations cover, where and why, you will be better placed before commencing any building work to understand what may or may not be permitted. Failure to comply with UK Building Regulations can lead to hefty fines and court action, so it is crucial to remain mindful of the standards.
What do Building Regulations Cover?
You will find that Building Regulations are applicable to practically all new building work (this also includes any changes made to existing houses and buildings.) England and Wales both share the same regulations, whilst Northern Ireland has some minor differences, and Scotland has its own legislation on it.
You can find further information on the exact standards building regulations cover in the Approved Documents for England and Wales, as well as detailed advice as to how to become compliant. Standards include the following:
● Health and hygiene
● Energy efficiency
It is essential that if you are renovating a house or planning an extension that your project is compliant with the standards the building regulations cover and this may be a question that a second mortgage lender will ask whilst in the process of making their lending decision; if the works on your property aren't compliant with Building Regulations, you are more unlikely to be able to secure a loan against the property in question.
Does this Affect Home Improvement Projects?
Generally, this will depend on the nature of the works in question. The standards cover all aspects of the construction as well as the overall stability and sustainability of a property such as heating, fire protection, ventilation, damp-proofing and insulation.
When it comes to repairs that are minor in nature though, or if you are simply replacing something that is considered ‘like for like,’ then you may not be affected. This includes routinely minor works such as plastering, rendering, brickwork or re-pointing.
However, if the home improvement works you are intending to carry out involve structural alterations and are deemed to be ‘heavy’ refurbishment-type work, building regulations will be applicable. This includes any of the following:
● Carrying out work to any combustion appliances (e.g. heating appliances)
● Removal of roof covering that is more than 50 per cent in total
● Wall finishes also equating to more than 50 per cent of the finish
● Altering a controlled service, such as a heating system that uses oil or solid fuel
● Removing some, or all of a load-bearing element
How Can I Apply for Building Regulation Compliance?
There are two ways to make an application regarding building works. These are a Building Notice application or a Full Plans application. With both of these you will need to submit to the relevant authorities prior to carrying out work, and the fees are roughly the same for both. However, the Building Notice application is typically only applicable and suitable for those carrying out minor works.
What Documents Do I Need for a Building Notice Application?
When making an application, you will need to provide various details. Depending on your local authority, it may be possible online to:
● Pay the fees
● Provide the completed Building Notice form
● Provide a plan to a scale that is no less than 1:1250 demonstrating drainage, location, the boundaries of the site as well as public sewers. This applies if the project involves an extension of the site, or for a new building entirely
You should remember that a Building Notice is not sufficient if the site is a house that is fronting onto a private road, or is within three meters of a public sewer.
What do I Need for a Full Plans Application?
With a Full Plans application, you will find that these applications are checked thoroughly and you will receive a formal decision as to whether you can go ahead with the project. Therefore, you can be confident that the works remain compliant with building regulations. You will need to provide the following information:
● Two copies of plans or specification to accompany drawings, as well as calculation and structural design
● The application form, completed also with an estimate of work costs and fees
● Two copies of detailed drawings of the proposed project. This should be at a scale that is no less than 1:100
● Two copies of a location or site plan. The scale should be no less than 1:1250
● You may also be asked for four copies of plans if the building is covered by fire safety legislation. That means you will need to show means of escape, emergency lighting, compartmentation, as well as fire detection and alarms
If your Local Planning Authority (LPA) allows online applications, you may only need to provide a single copy of each required plan.
Who Checks for Building Regulation Compliance?
These necessary checks and balances are carried out by Building Control Bodies, which includes the local authority building control department as well as those in the private sector, such as Approved Inspectors and surveyors. When it comes to your building project, you have the choice of choosing either one, with both having their own sets of fees.
How do I Produce the Information Needed?
You will need to provide drawings and annotations that demonstrate they meet building regulation standards. You may require the help of a structural engineer to provide calculations for foundations or roof design for example. You may also need the services of an architect to provide specification details and to produce the drawings professionally. An experience engineer or designer will be very familiar with the building standard regulations and can help you to meet them