What are Building Regulations?

Building Regulations set the minimum standards for design, construction and alterations for virtually all buildings. They’re developed by the Government to set a national standard which all building work should follow to ensure safety and energy efficiency. There are 14 sections to the Building Regulations which cover areas from structure and fire safety to ventilation, drainage and electrical safety.

The Building Regulations apply to most building work including (but not limited to):

  • Putting up a new building
  • Extending or altering an existing one, including replacing windows and doors
  • Providing services in a building such as installing some bathrooms, replacing fuse boxes and replacing a heating system
  • Some changes of use of existing buildings.
  • Any structural work
  • All drainage works.

It’s really important to check whether your planned work will be impacted by Building Regulations before you start. You can check what counts as ‘building work’ in Regulation 3 of the Building Regulations.

Your local authority is in charge of Building Regulations’ compliance in your area and, believe it or not, they are there to help you. You can ask them for advice on our building project. If they find that work carried out does not comply, they will usually give you the chance to rectify the work. If your building continues to be non-compliant, the person doing the work and/or the owner of the building could be fined up to £5,000. Your local authority could make you pay for faulty work to be fixed.

If nothing else, any non-compliant work may come back to haunt you when you try to sell your property since you won’t have the necessary certificates. So it’s really worthwhile getting it right first time.

What’s the difference between Building Regulations and Planning Permission?

In the simplest terms, planning regulations determine where you can build and building regulations control how you build it.

Building regulations set standards for design and construction of building to ensure the safety and health of people using the building.

Planning permission seeks to guide the way our towns, cities and countryside develop. This includes use of space, the appearance of buildings, access and impact on the environment.

Depending on the type and scale of your building project, you may need one or other or both. Granting of planning permission doesn’t mean you’ve received building control approval and vice versa.

Whose responsibility is compliance with Building Regulations?

Complying with Building Regulations is the responsibility of the person carrying out the building work and (if they’re not the same person) the owner of the property.

If you’re carrying out building work yourself, it’s important you understand how the building regulatory system applies to your situation as you’re responsible for making sure the work complies with the Building Regulations.

If you’re employing a builder, the responsibility is usually theirs, but do make sure you check that they’re going to take care of the necessary at the very beginning of your project. If you own the property, it’s you who may be penalised if there are any non-compliance issues.

If you’re at all unsure about whether you need planning permission or building regulation compliance for your building work, speak to a builder or contact your Local Planning Authority or a Building Control Body who will be able to advise you.