Building Regulations: What Are They and Why Do You Need Them?
If you wish to self-build your home or perform any type of remodelling to your home, you must get permission from the local council regarding building regulations. These regulations or guidelines are primarily devised to make sure that all building work is carried out in the best possible way.
Building regulations in the UK covers as many as 13 areas ranging from electrics to energy efficiency. Any type of building work has to be compliant with some sort of building regulation. There are basically two types of building regulations prevalent in the UK. First of all, if you are planning to perform some minor building work, such as removing a load bearing wall, you need to provide a written notice to the building regulation department of your local council. On receiving the notice, inspector will visit the site to make sure that you have met all the building regulations correctly.
However, in case of major building work such as extending your property, you need to send a detailed planning application to your local council. This plan must be submitted before starting any actual building work, and it should cover everything from location to the materials used for construction. On receiving the application, the officers will carefully look through the plans and make a decision whether any changes are to be made, if planning will be refused or accepted. The process takes a few months in general. Inspectors will then make periodic visits to the site to check if everything is fine, and in accordance with the building regulations. In some cases, building inspectors may also be accompanied by structural engineers.
Here comes one of the most important questions, when and under what circumstances should you require building regulations –
- The erection of a new building or the extension of an existing building. (e.g. a kitchen extension or loft conversion)
- Structural alterations to an existing building. (e.g. underpinning, removal or alteration of load bearing walls, removal of a chimney)
- Alterations which may affect the means of escape in case of fire. (e.g. changes of layout, changing the use of rooms, alterations to fire doors)
- Changing the use of an existing building. (e.g. converting a house to flats, or a shop to an office)
- The extension or alteration of certain services and fittings. (e.g. installing new drainage, replacing windows if the fitter is not FENSA registered)
- Since April 2006 renovating or replacing a wall, floor or roof has also fallen under the building regulations. (e.g. replacing a roof, re-tiling a roof, replacing a floor, re-plastering substantial areas)
- Changes to a buildings energy status now also require building regulations. This might happen where a previously unheated space is being heated or where air conditioning is being installed.
This is by no means a comprehensive guide. You should check with your local councils building control department to see if building regulation or planning permission is required for your project.