Building Regulations Guidance


Building Regulations are concerned with issues of safety and health of occupiers of buildings together with “green matters” which enhance the Environment. Their predecessor was the old Bye Laws. Governed by the Building Act 1984 (“the 1984 Act”) and the 2010 Building Regulations which consolidates Regulations of 2000. The Regulations cover the following spheres

  • Demolition of buildings
  • Design and construction of buildings
  • Installation of Service Fittings and Equipment- eg central heating / electrical supply

( termed “Controlled Service or fitting)

  • Conservation of fuel and power
  • Prevention of waste, undue consumption of water, misuse and contamination of water
  • Enhancing and Protection of the Environment
  • Prevention and detection of crime in terms of ensuring new buildings are more secure 

The present Regulations in 2010 are issued in the form of Approved Document(s) (“AD”) and cover the following 14 areas

  • AD A=Structural Safety
  • AD B =Fire Safety
  • AD C = Site Preparation and measures for resistance to contaminants and moisture
  • AD D =Toxic substances
  • AD E = Resistances to the passage of sound
  • AD F = Ventilation
  • AD G = Hygiene
  • AD H= Drainage and waste disposal
  • AD J = Heat Producing Appliances and fuel storage systems
  • ADK = protection from collision falling or impact
  • ADL = conservation of fuel and power
  • ADM = access to and use of buildings
  • ADN= glazing with regards to cleaning, impact and opening
  • ADP = electrical safety

Building Regulation Approval is needed for the following forms of work

A-   Building Work which under the 2010 Regulations ( Reg 3) is defined to mean

i)              Erection of a building or an extension to an existing building- subject to certain exemptions referred to later

ii)             The installation of a controlled service or fitting (central heating / electrical) or extension to an existing controlled service or fitting, located in a building

iii)            The material alteration of a building or a controlled service or fitting- an alteration is material if the work in whole or part would result at any stage in

  • The Building or Controlled Service or Fitting no longer complying with Building Regulations when before such works, it did
  •  The Building or Controlled Service or Fitting which prior to the works were not complying with Building Regulations, but the non compliance has increased as a result

iv)           Works carried out as part of a material change of use, defined under Reg 5 and Schedule 8 (1) (e) of the 1984 Act, of the building such that as a result of the change (shown in bold)

  • The building is a dwelling when prior to the works it was not
  • The building contains a flat when prior to the works it did not
  • The building is used as an hotel or boarding house when prior to the works it did not
  • The building is used as an institution when prior to the works it did not
  • The building is used as a public building when prior to the works it did not
  • The building is not one of the following , when prior to the works it was

a)    Used and licensed for the manufacture and  storage for explosives

b)    A building included in the list of ancient monuments

c)    A building which is infrequently used and the height is never less than one and half (1 ½) times the height from the point of access to the building or the boundary with the road whichever is the nearer

d)    A Greenhouse provided it is not being used for retailing, packing or exhibiting (residential user only)

e)    An agricultural building or building for keeping of animals provided

  • It is not used for a dwelling
  • The height  is never less than one and half (1 ½) times the height of any sleeping accommodation
  • It has a fire exit which is no more than 30 meters from any point within the building

f)     A building which is being used as a Sales Office on a new house building Estate or as Office ancillary to construction or civil engineering work , where there is no sleeping accomodation

g)    A temporary building which will be in situ for not more than 28 days

h)    Small detached buildings where the floor space does not exceed 30 meters square and is not to be used for sleeping accommodation and is either more than one meter from the property boundary or if less, is to be made without substantially non combustible materials

i)      Small detached buildings where the floor space does not exceed 30 meters square and is not to be used for sleeping accomodation 

  • The building which contains at least one dwelling contains a greater or lesser number of dwellings than it did prior to the works being carried out

v)            The insertion of insulating material into the cavity walls of a building

vi)           Works involving underpinning of a building


There are three forms of Application

A)   Full Plans Application- this requires depositing of full details and plans of the proposed works in conformity with the Approved Documents, together with paying a standardised fee. The Local Authority has FIVE Weeks to consider the application (can be extended by a further THREE Weeks if the Applicant agrees). The Local Authority has very limited discretion. The Local Authority’s role is simply to decide whether the proposed works conform. It can impose Conditions on issuing a Consent. Where a Consent is given, it is valid for THREE Years. The Local Authority will inspect the Works at various stages and if satisfied at the conclusion will issue a Certificate of Completion of Works

B)   Building Notice- this is a short form application without full plans- It cannot be used

  • Works which involve compliance with Fire Regulations
  • Building on or close to a sewer
  • Construction of a new building which will front an un-adopted Road

A Building Notice is valid for THREE Years. However the Local Authority will not inspect the work and will not issue a Certificate of Completion of Works

This type of application is thwart with problems as no evidence will exist where works have been carried out under Building Notice that they comply with The Building Regs

C)   Initial Notice- introduced in 1984 this allows Approved Inspectors working in  the Private Sector to oversee Building Control. Notice is given by an Approved Inspector to the Local Authority of the Works, but it is the Approved Inspector who issues the Compliance Certificate and a copy of their Professional Indemnity Insurance 


The Local Authority has the following powers under Section 36 of the 1984 Act

  1. Enforcement Notice- where the completed works do not comply with the Regs. The Notice must be served within TWELVE Months of the works completing. It must specify the breaches in Regs, the steps to be taken to rectify the breaches and the time period which must be at least TWENTY EIGHT Days. The Local Authority can after that period if the breach remains, alter or remove ‘the offending works’ and recover the costs by registering a Financial Local Land Charge against the Property. It is also a CRIMINAL OFFENCE not to comply with an Enforcement Notice punishable by an initial fine and a further daily fine for so long as the breach continues- Section 35. The Local Authority has TWO years from the date the breach occurred to prosecute – subject to the proceedings being brought within SIX Months of the Local Authority being aware of the breach.
  2.  Injunction Proceedings- Under Section 36(6) the Local Authority can at any time after the works are completedcommence  Injunction Proceedings for the alteration or removal of “Offending Works”. In deciding whether to grant an Injunction, the Court will follow the following principles

i)              Is the injury small?

ii)             Is the injury one that can be measured in monetary terms?

iii)            Can the injury be adequately compensated by a payment?

iv)           Would the granting of an Injunction be oppressive?

The answer has to be “yes” to all four questions for a Court to order Damages in lieu of an injunction


Although the powers of the Local Authority to take Enforcement Action may appear limited in terms of time save for an Injunction, the fundamental point is that a breach of Building Regulations can have serious financial implications in terms of putting right the defect. It is therefore vital that you have a Survey when buying a Property and act upon the findings of a Survey.  

A Mortgage Valuation Report is not a detailed Survey. It is merely a report to serve your Mortgage Lender to establish whether there is sufficient value in the Property to afford adequate security for your proposed borrowing. It therefore must not be regarded as sufficiently detailed to provide you with “peace of mind” as to the structural integrity of the building  and its controlled services and fittings ( electrical gas and water appliances).

We will investigate Building Works where the Seller states that works have been carried out or where such works are discernable from either the Estate Agents details or from your Survey. Ultimately our advice will always be that you must discuss the quality of the building works with your Surveyor and at all times, PRIOR TO instructing us to exchange contracts to have

  • the electrical appliances checked by a recognised Electrician
  • the gas appliances checked by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer

Sellers Solicitors often attempt to offer a Building Regulation Indemnity Insurance Policy where there is an absence of evidence to show that Building Works or Works to Electrical and Gas Appliances complied with Building Regulations. Our advice is that such Insurance is generally speaking worthless as it would only provide a level of monetary protection in the event of a claim where, the Local Authority takes enforcement action. Relatively few enforcement proceedings are brought by Local Authorities annually.  These Policies do NOT cover the cost of putting right defective Building Works or defective electrical or gas appliance installations

You should view your Surveyor and your Solicitor as a team and therefore ask that your Surveyor sends to us, the Survey Report. We will always respond to a Client with our comments to the Surveyors Observations at Paragraph I, of the new format Survey Report.

Guide To When Building Regulations May or May Not Be Needed

This is a non exhaustive guide of when Building Regulations is or is not needed, and you should ALWAYS CHECKwith the Local Authority Building Controls Department BEFORE PROCEEDING with any of the following works

Adverts and Signs– Adverts on domestic buildings do not normally need Building Regs, however if lit, the electrical work will need an Electrical Compliance Safety Certificate.

Air Souce Heat Pump- such installations will require Building Regulation Approval

Bathroom- the installation of a new bath, WC, shower or washbasin will require Building Regs, as will the adaption of existing drains and pipe or installation of new drains and pipes

Biomassed Fuel Appliances-  Building Regs are needed in terms of compliance with ventilation, noise and general safety – any electrical and plumbing work will need also approval, usually by way of an Approved Contractor (NICEIC Electrician, Gas Safety Engineer) self assessment

Boilers and Heaters; Building Regs compliance applies to

  • Installation or replacement of a hot water cylinder
  • Installation or replacement or altering the position of any type of gas, solid fuel and oil appliances (such as a boiler)
  • Installation of a fixed flueless gas appliance

NOTE: these works can be signed off as compliant by a registered Gas Safety Engineer

Cavity Walls Insulation: Installation must be Building Regulation compliant in terms of the materials being suitable- note some foam insulants carry formaldehyde gas emission

Ceilings;  where more than 25% of a ceiling below a cold loft space or flat roof is being replaced, building regulation approval is required. Steps will also need to be taken to approve the thermal insulation

Conservatories; Building Regulation Consent will be needed unless all of the following apply

  • The floor space does not exceed 30 meters square
  • Over 50% of its walls comprise translucent safety glass with a British Standard Kitemark under Approved Document N of the Building Regulations
  • Over 75% of its walls comprise translucent safety glass with a British Standard Kitemark under Approved Document N of the Building Regulations
  • No new structural opening to the existing house is created- in other works an existing door to the house is used to provide the entrance to the conservatory
  • It is not independently heated
  • The electrical work is signed off by an NICEIC Contractor as compliant with the Building Regulations

Decking; Building Reguation Consent will be needed where either the decking is more than 30cm above the ground at any point or the decking alone or with other additions takes up more than 50% of the garden area

Decoration: internal wall papering, and painting will not require building regulation consent, and nor will installation of skirting boards

Dormer Windows; Building Regulation Consent will always be needed where one converts a loft space or attic intoliving accommodation

Electrics; Any electrical work in house or garden must comply with Building Regulations. Where the works are carried out by a qualified Electrician who comes within the Competent Persons Scheme of recognised electricians, compliance is by way of Contractor Issued Electrical Safety Certificate

NOTE; the addition of extra power points or lighting points or alterations to existing electrical circuits will need a certificate only where the works are in the kitchen, bathroom or outside

External Walls; Consent is needed where there is

  • re-rendering or replacement of timber cladding to 25% or more of the external wall
  • re-lining internally of 25% or more of the external wall
  • re-building of 25% or more of the external leaf of a wall

Fascia; replacement fascia or soffits do not normally require Building Regulation Consent

Fences, Walls Gates; erecting or replacing do not need Building Regulation Consent, but where on the line of a boundary, consultation with the neighbour is required however  because as a landowner you have a duty to ensure that they are structurally sound

Floors; The replacing or fitting of a new floor will need Building Regulation Consent

Flues, chimney and vent pipes; Compliance under Approved Document J of the Building Regulations is required, in terms of discharge into the open air in respect of flues and vent pipes.

Garages:  Building Regulation Consent will be needed unless

  • the floor area is no more than 15 meters square or
  • the floor area is between 15 meters square and 30 meters square AND the garage will be at least one meter from the boundary of the Property or it will be made of substantially non combustible materials.

Where electrical works are carried out, it will require in all cases an  Electrical safety Compliance Certificate issued by an NICEIC Contractor

NOTE; converting an existing garage into living accommodation will always need Building Regulation Consent.

NOTE: construction of a Carport which is open on at least two sides will not need Consent where the floor space of the structure does not exceed 30 meters square 

Internal Walls; The removal of an internal load bearing wall or a non load bearing wall in the hall will require Building Regulation Consent

Kitchen Re-Fitting; the installation of fittings such as a kitchen sink or altering an existing waste water drain or creating a new waste water drain will require Consent

Loft Conversion; Building Regulation Consent will be required to ensure

  • the floor to the newly formed living accommodation is structurally strong,
  • the stability of the building to include the roof is not effected,
  • there is adequate ventilation and fire escape  
  • the staircase providing access from the existing house is safe
  • there is reasonable sound insulation

Note: automatic smoke detectors must be installed

Patios, Paving, Drives and Hard Standing; all are generally outside Building Regs regime

Porches;  Building Regulation Consent will not be needed provided

  • The floor space does not exceed 30 meters square
  • The glass complies with Approved Document N of the Building Regulations
  • No new structural opening to the existing house is created- in other works the existing front door to the house is used to provide the entrance to the porch
  • The electrical work is signed off by an NICEIC Contractor as compliant with the Building Regulations

Rainwater  Downpipes; the repair or replacement of existing downpipes will not normally require approval. The installation of a new downpipe will need Building Regulation approval

Roof; the repairs or re-covering of a pitched or flat roof will not require Building Regulation Consent unless

  • 25% or more of the roof is being repaired or re-covered or
  • The new covering material increases the weight of the covering material by 15% or more or
  • The new covering will have a significantly different performance to the existing covering in the event of fire.

Roof Light or Window; This will require Building Regulation Consent where

  • To install, means creating an aperture to the existing roof
  • The roof will have to carry the weight of the light or window resulting in the roof structure having to be strengthened.
  • The window has sufficient insulation against heat loss

Sheds and Summerhouses: Building Regulation Consent will not be needed unless

  • the floor area is more than 15 meters square or
  • the floor area is between 15 meters square and 30 meters square AND the shed or summerhouse will be within one meter from the boundary of the Property and made of substantially combustible materials or.
  • It is used as sleeping accomodation

Solar Panels; Building Regulation Consent is normally required where it is roof mounted because of the weight and the need for the roof to be strengthened-

NOTE: Ground Solar Panels are usually exempt

Underpinning of the Foundations; this is classified as Building Works and therefore Building Regulation Consent is needed

Windows and Doors: (1) windows where this involves replacing the whole of the fixed frames and opening parts or creating new openings, building regulation compliance will be required either by way of

  • A Contractor is FENSA Registered and issues a FENSA Certificate
  • The Local Authority issue a Regularisation Certificate following an inspection of the finished works

NOTE: the repair of broken glass, or the replacement of rotten sashes or mains section of the window frame do not need approval

                                     (2) Doors where more than 50% of its surface comprises glass, Building Regulation Compliance will be required by either of the above regimes

Wind Turbines- A Building Notice must be served on the Local Authority. Steps must be taken to ensure the installation is compliant under Approved Documents A and L (safety) and P (electrical)

September 2011

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