Frequently Asked Questions – Building Regulations ?

1. What Are Building Regulations?

Not to be confused with planning permission, the Building Regulations are there to ensure that buildings are made to a minimum quality standard for such things as structure, fire escape, drainage, ventilation, insulation and so on. The regulations can often seem onerous, but they are all there for good reasons. Building regulation matters are usually handled by Building Control Officers in the Building Control Department of your Local Authority, but increasingly private licensed inspectors are an alternative. Unlike planning, there is no committee and you should not have to endure a long wait for approvals. More...

2. What Happens if I Contravene Building Regulations?

If a person carrying out building work contravenes the Building Regulations, the local authority or another person may decide to take them to the magistrates’ court where they could be fined up to £5000 for the contravention, and up to £50 for per day the contravention continues after conviction (section 35 of the Building Act 1984). Alternatively, or in addition, the local authority may serve an enforcement notice on the owner requiring them to alter or remove work which contravenes the regulations (section 36 of the 1984 Act). If the owner does not comply with the notice the local authority has the power to undertake the work itself and recover the costs of doing so from the owner.


Notwithstanding the possibility of enforcement action, you should bear in mind that if the local authority considers that building work carried out does not comply with the Building Regulations and it is not rectified, the authority will not issue you with a completion certificate and the contravention may come to light through a local land search enquiry when you wish to sell your property.


3. How do I Apply for Building Regulations’ Approval?

There are two ways to apply for approval under the Building Regulations:


Building Notice Method:

A Building Notice is a simple method, although it also involves the highest level of risk and uncertainty. Jonathan never recommends this method to any of his clients, however it is included here for completeness. For a Building Notice you should not need specific drawings and your builder will most likely offer to look after the process on your behalf while undertaking the works. This however often results in a conflict of interest and dispute between the home owner and the builder. As there are no recorded and agreed approved drawings or building methods a Building Notice can often lead to unforeseen extra and even abortive works and therefore extra and, often disproportionate, cost and delay.  To do this a Building Notice form is completed and submitted to the Building Control Department - this has to be done at least 48 hours before work starts on site. Once the work starts, the Building Control Officer will visit the site and make arrangements with the builder to visit at specific points through the progress of the works to check that the works are up to the minimum standards that the regulations require. He/She may also request supplementary drawings and information. When the works are complete, you can ask the Building Control Officer to give you a certificate to confirm that everything has been done to the required level. Jonathan never recommends carrying out domestic works under a Building Notice.

Full Plans Method:

The 'full plans' method of application is the method that Jonathan always recommends to his clients. A Full Plans Building Regulation Application is more involved as it requires the submission up-front of detailed drawings that show a great deal of information, such as the fire escape routes, ventilation capacities, structural calculations/construction details, for instance. 


A Full Plans Application is usually processed within 6 weeks from submission. Some people see this process as a frustrating delay and the fees an intangible expense.

However, by having a Full Plans set of drawings and Structural Calculations approved, you know that as long as your builder sticks to that information, the building will comply with Building Regulations and there can be no unforeseen shocks, expense or delay in regard to the works complying with Building Regulations. Jonathan can produce the full plans application for you. Do not hesitate to Contact Jonathan who can provide this service.


4.Will I need to appoint any other consultants, alongside an Architect?

Yes. It will almost certainly be necessary for you to also appoint a Structural Engineer to produce structural calculations for Building Regulation Approval. Jonathan will advise on the appointment of a structural engineer and liaise/co-ordinate on your behalf.


5. What is a SAP Assessment?

The SAP calculation is a mathematical model. It is the official method used in the UK to calculate the energy consumption in dwellings :

• to assess compliance to UK building regulations.

• to generate Energy Performance Certificates.

Due to the complexity of the model it is nearly always accessed via a computer program. Official licensed software is approved by BRE on behalf of the government. The model is upgraded from time to time to reflect changes in the Building Regulations and conventions. Training is required to understand and use SAP correctly.

On-construction-Domestic Energy-Assessors who are members of an approved scheme are authorized to issue EPC's and prepare SAP calculations for Building Control.

Jonathan Braddick is a fully licensed SAP Assessor and OCDEA (On Construction Domestic Energy Assessor). Click here for more information on'Energy Assessments'.


6.Why are SAP Assessments Important?

The driving force behind the regulations is basically energy saving legislation either UK or European. The UK building regulations are tightened up approximately every 4 years 2010 /2014, to reduce the carbon emissions of new homes (zero being the ultimate target). The Energy Performance Certificate, despite getting unfortunately tangled up in the aborted HIPS pack, is in fact an EEC requirement and arose from the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

The model is essentially an Energy balance designed to calculate the heating, hot water, lighting requirement, in order to determine the fuel use, cost and carbon footprint. The latter two are additionally expressed on SAP and Environmental Ratings scales in bands A to G.


7.Does my neighbour have the right to object to my Building Regulation Application?

No, there is no requirement in the Building Regulations to consult with neighbours, although it would be sensible for you to do so. Objections may be raised under other legislation if your proposals require planning permission or if you are carrying out work to which  The Party Wall Act applies.


8. Do I get a certificate when the works have been completed?

Yes. Completion Certificates are issued for Full Plans Applications on satisfactory completion of work, provided that you have kept the Building Control Officer informed of the appropriate stages of work.

For examples of completed projects please visit the Projects page of this website.

For a summary of the services that Jonathan provides and how he can help you with your project please visit the Services page of the website. 

Contact Jonathan on: 01395 265768 or email: jb@riba.co

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Copyright 2012  Jonathan Braddick  - RIBA Chartered Architect.  44a Waverley Road Exmouth Devon EX8 3HJ    T:  01395 265768   W: www.architectdevon.com    E: jb@riba.co