Frequently asked questions

Who Administers Building Regulations?

Local Authority Building Control Department within Planning Services performs this role. Highly qualified and experienced teams of surveyors will examine plans and carry out site inspections of works in progress. Their extensive knowledge of materials and construction methods and local conditions is available to you at all stages of the construction process.

What is the difference between Planning Permission and Building Control?

Planning Permission relates mainly to the correct use of land, the aesthetic appearance of the proposed building and the effect that the development will have on the general environment and neighbouring properties. Planning also deals with listed buildings and conservation areas.

Building Regulations, on the other hand, are concerned with the way in which the building is constructed and include the following elements:

  • structural stability
  • means of escape
  • fire precautions
  • weather resistance
  • energy conservation
  • sound insulation
  • access and facilities for people with disabilities

Is a Building Regulation Approval same as Planning Permission?

No, Building Regulation (BR) approval under the Building Regulations is entirely separate from the process of obtaining Planning Permission, which may be required for domestic work regardless of whether the scheme is controllable or exempt under the Building Regulations.

How much do I have to pay?

Full details of the Building Regulations charges system and amounts payable for domestic work are available upon request and will be supplied with your application forms.

If the work is for the benefit of a disabled person then it may qualify for exemption from the payment of charges.

Further information on charges can be obtained by contacting us.

How much notice for a site inspection?

The regulations require that the person carrying out building work shall give the Control Office notice when the work has reached a particular stage. The prescribed stages are set out below. 24 hours notice is necessary to book an inspection and notice may be written, given by telephone, fax or emailed to your Local Building Control Officer.

The following are the stages at which notification should be given. Stage 6 is not mandatory but it is strongly recommended.

When can I start work?

You may start work after you have submitted either a Building Notice or a Full Plans application and at least 2 days notice has been given of your intention to commence work (preferably in writing). Building Notice & Full Plans.

Either you or your builder should then notify them at each of the stages listed below (where appropriate):

  • Foundation excavations prior to concreting
  • Foundation concrete
  • Oversite (ground floor) prior to concreting
  • Damp proof course prior to covering
  • Foul water drainage prior to backfilling
  • Surface water drainage prior to backfilling (not mandatory, but is strongly recommended)
  • Occupation prior to completion
  • Completion of works (7 days notice required)
  • The Building Control Surveyor may also request notification at other stages of the work that is not specifically included within the Regulations e.g. roof timbers.

The above statutory framework for inspections is obviously not appropriate for all types of work. For example, in the case of loft conversions, after the commencement visit, inspections of the structural elements will normally be required prior to covering up.

Will the foundations of my extension be OK to take another storey?

Generally the design for foundations of a single storey building is the same as that for a two storey extension. The important aspects include:

  • depth to the bottom of the foundations above ground level
  • depth of concrete in the foundations
  • width of the foundation concrete
  • location of the wall within the width of the foundation and
  • probably even more important, the nature of the ground under the foundation.
  • Unless the original foundations were laid within the last 5 years it will be necessary to expose the existing foundation in one or two locations so that the above aspects can be assessed by a structural engineer or the Building Control Surveyor before planning a first floor extension on an existing single storey part of the building.

Other important aspects to consider are:

  • suitability of existing roof structure to act as a floor
  • suitability of existing lintels over ground floor openings
  • suitability of existing walls

What do I do on completion?

When your work is finished you should contact your Local Building Control Office to arrange a final inspection. We recommend that any final payments to builders only be made after the Building Control Surveyor has carried out a satisfactory completion inspection.

Once they have confirmed that your work meets the required standards, they will be pleased to issue you with a completion certificate.

Will I receive a Completion Certificate when works have been finished?

Yes. When your work is finished you should contact the Building Control Service to arrange a final inspection.

Provided the work complies with the Building Regulations a Completion Certificate will be issued. The Completion Certificate is an important document and should be kept with the house deeds etc. The Certificate may be requested on the sale, or a future sale, of the property. A charge is made if copies of the certificate are requested.

Is there a time limit within which I have to carry out the work?

Yes. If the work has not started within three years of the deposit of plans, or submission of a Building or Initial Notice the approval will have lapsed.

If the owner still wishes to progress with the works, a new application should be submitted meeting current standards.

A further charge is payable.

Can I see the drainage plans of my house?

The Council may have plans of your original house, and may include a drainage layout. It may be possible for the original plans to be extracted from the archives, dependant largely on how old the house is. It cannot be guaranteed that what is shown on any plan is what you will find on site.

A better way to determine the drainage layout is to either employ a surveyor to investigate or lift manholes in your garden or do your own survey.

Remember there may be surface water as well as foul drains on your property, you must not connect foul water to a surface water system or vice versa. You will also need to remember that other people may have rights of drainage and therefore use of the sewers passing through your land.

You have a right to see plans deposited for any planning application for your house and these may contain drainage plans.

Can I draw the plans myself?

Yes, but you should have a good knowledge of building construction and the requirements of the building regulations.

It is likely that employing an architect, building surveyor, or other professional will produce better results and reduce delay in obtaining approvals.

Do my neighbours have the right to object to what is proposed in my Building Regulation application?

No. There is no requirement in the Building Regulations to consult neighbours (although it would be courteous for you to do so).

If you are undertaking work to which the provisions of the Party Wall Act 1996 will apply, you must notify neighbours in accordance with the Act. (See The Party Wall Act).