What are the Building Regulations?
The Building Regulations are made under powers provided in the Building Act 1984, and apply in England and Wales. The current edition of the regulations is ‘The Building Regulations 2010’ and the majority of building projects are required to comply with them. They exist to ensure the health and safety of people in and around all types of buildings (i.e. domestic, commercial and industrial). They also provide for energy conservation, and for access and facilities to buildings to ensure they can be used by everyone.
What is the difference between Planning Permission and Building Regulations?
Planning rules determine whether you are allowed to go ahead with a building project and Building Regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings.
Who administers the Building Regulations?
The local authority has always administered the regulations, however since 1984 Building Control has been open to competition from the private sector and Approved Inspectors can now also provide the building control service.
What do the regulations cover?
The erection of new buildings, the extension or alteration of existing buildings and the provision of a controlled service or fitting (e.g. drainage, heat producing appliances). The regulations also apply where certain changes of use to a building occur. There are certain minor building works that do not require approval.
What happens if I don't comply with the regulations?
If work is carried out without Approval it is classified as unauthorised. The Local Authority has powers to take legal action to require an application to be made and to open up work to check for adequacy. You could also be fined for failing to comply and pay to have offending work altered. In extreme cases work may be required to be taken down. Probably the most serious problem will be the effect on any future house sale. Approval Notices and Completion Certificates are now needed as standard for any conveyancing and you may experience problems selling. You may also find that your house insurance is invalidated.
Once the Approval has been granted, what is the deadline for completing the work?
There is no time limit laid down. But if you do not start the work within 3 years, the council can serve you with a notice declaring your plans “of no effect,” which means they are out of date. If you want to go ahead after receiving a formal notice, you will need to submit a fresh application.
If I apply for building regulation approval, will the council consult with my neighbour about the plans?
No. Councils are not obliged to consult adjoining owners about building regulation applications (as they normally do with planning applications). If a proposal interferes with a neighbour’s property or legal rights then it is up to the neighbour to safeguard those rights. However, it is always advisable to let neighbours know about any proposals that may affect them before work starts.