Planning and Building

What are the Building Regulations?

The Building Regulations apply to building work in England & Wales and set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings. Learn more about compliance and the consequences of not complying.

Is Building Regulations approval the same as planning permission? Building Regulations approval is a separate matter from obtaining planning permission for your work. Similarly, receiving any planning permission which your work may require is not the same as taking action to ensure that it complies with the Building Regulations. You can learn more about the difference between Planning Permission and Building Regulations here.

Do I need Building Regulations Approval? If you are planning to carry out 'Building Work' as defined in Regulation 3 of the Building Regulations, then it must comply with the Building Regulations. This normally means seeking approval of the work from a Building Control Body.The following types of project amount to 'Building Work':

  • The erection or extension of a building
  • An alteration project involving work which will temporarily or permanently affect the ongoing compliance of the building, service or fitting with the requirements relating to structure, fire, or access to and use of buildings
  • When installing replacement windows using a builder or window company not  registered with the relevant Competent Person Schemes.
  • The installation or extension of a service or fitting which is controlled under the regulations
  • The insertion of insulation into a cavity wall
  • The underpinning of the foundations of a building
  • When you want to change the building's fundamental use

If your building work consists only of the installation of certain types of services or fittings (e.g. electrical installations in dwellings, heating, hot water, air-conditioning and ventilation, replacement windows, WCs, and showers) and you employ an installer registered with a relevant Competent Person Schemes as designated in the Building Regulations, that installer will be able to self-certify the work. Therefore, you will not need to involve a Building Control Service. However, this concession is strictly limited to the specific type of installations and does not cover any other type of building work.The works themselves must meet the current relevant technical requirements in the Building Regulations and they must not make other fabric, services and fittings less compliant than they were before - or dangerous. For example, the provision of replacement double-glazing must not make compliance worse in relation to means of escape, air supply for combustion appliances and their flues and ventilation for health.They may also apply to certain changes of use of an existing building. This is because the change of use may result in the building as a whole no longer complying with the requirements which will apply to its new type of use, and so having to be up-graded to meet additional requirements specified in the regulations for which building work may also be required.

What are the Health and Safety Responsibilities?

Clients, contractors and designers may also have duties under health and safety legislation and may need to notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Find out more about the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007).  Although a domestic client does not have duties under CDM 2007, those who work for them on construction projects will.

Disclaimer: this is an introductory guide and is not a definitive source of legal information.