Building Regulation Approval
When you need approval
Exemptions from building regulations
Failure to comply with the building regulations
Difference between building regulations and planning permission
When you need approval

If you are carrying out building work personally, it is very important that you understand how the building regulatory system and material applies to your situation as you are responsible for making sure that the work complies with the building regulations.
If you are employing a builder, the responsibility will usually be theirs – but you should confirm this at the very beginning. You should also bear in mind that if you are the owner of the building, it is ultimately you who may be served with an enforcement notice if the work does not comply with the regulations.

Some kinds of building projects are exempt from the regulations, however generally if you are planning to carry out ‘building work’ as defined in regulation 3 of the building regulations, then it must comply with the building regulations. This means that the regulations will probably apply if you want to:

  • Put up a new building
  • Extend or alter an existing one
  • Provide services and/or fittings in a building such as washing and sanitary facilities, hot water cylinders, foul water and rainwater drainage, replacement windows, and fuel burning appliances of any type.
  • The works themselves must meet the relevant technical requirements in the building regulations and they must not make other fabric, services and fittings less compliant than they were before – or dangerous. For example, the provision of replacement double-glazing must not make compliance worse in relation to means of escape, air supply for combustion appliances and their flues and ventilation for health.
  • They may also apply to certain changes of use of an existing building. This is because the change of use may result in the building as a whole no longer complying with the requirements which will apply to its new type of use, and so having to be up-graded to meet additional requirements specified in the regulations for which building work may also be required.

In summary, the following types of project amount to ‘building work’:

  • The erection or extension of a building
  • The installation or extension of a service or fitting which is controlled under the regulations
  • An alteration project involving work which will temporarily or permanently affect the ongoing compliance of the building, service or fitting with the requirements relating to structure, fire, or access to and use of buildings
  • The insertion of insulation into a cavity wall
  • The underpinning of the foundations of a building
  • Work affecting the thermal elements, energy status or energy performance of a building.
    Before commencing work you should refer to Regulation 3 of the Building Regulations for the full meaning of ‘building work’ or, if you are unsure, seek advice.
    Exemption from building regulations ;- The building regulations are made up of procedural and technical provisions. Some works are exempt from the whole of the regulations, others are only exempt from certain aspects.
    Even if exempt from the regulations, work may still require planning permission.

In respect of technical requirements, the exemptions are judged by two approaches:

Parts A to K and M to Q are judged against seven classes set out in Schedule 2 of the Building Regulations. (see table below)
Part L is judged against criteria set set out in Regulation 21 of the building regulations. (see overview below)
Classes 1 to 7
Class of work is exempt from need to comply with these parts A-K, M, N and Q L P
Class 1 (Buildings controlled under other legislation) Exempt Part L may apply Exempt
Class 2 (Buildings not frequented by people) Exempt Part L may apply Exempt
Class 3 (Greenhouses) Exempt Part L may apply Not exempt
Class 3 (Agricultural buildings) Exempt Part L may apply Exempt
Class 4 (Temporary buildings) Exempt Part L may apply Exempt
Class 5 (Ancillary buildings) Exempt Part L may apply Exempt
Class 6 (Small detached buildings) Exempt Part L may apply Not exempt
Class 7 (Extensions) Exempt Exempt Not exempt
Part L Exemptions
This overview has been provided as a quick reference; you should refer to Regulation 9 for the definitive source of information and, if you are in any doubt, seek appropriate advice before commencing works.

Certain buildings which are listed, in conservation areas or are included in the schedule of monuments – where compliance with the energy efficiency requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance.
Buildings which are used primarily or solely as places of worship
Temporary buildings with a planned time of use of 2 years or less, with low energy demand
Industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings with low energy demand
Stand-alone buildings other than dwellings with a total useful floor area of less than 50m²
The meanings of some of the terms used above are explained in the building regulations, therefore you should refer to the regulations or seek advice before commencing work.
Failure to comply with the building regulations

If you do not follow the building control procedures set out for handling your building work or you carry out building work which does not comply with the requirements contained in the building regulations, you will have contravened the regulations.
Prosecution and enforcement notices
A local authority has a general duty to enforce the building regulations in its area and will seek to do so by informal means wherever possible. If informal enforcement does not achieve compliance with the regulations the local authority has two formal enforcement powers which it may use in appropriate cases.

First, if a person carrying out building work contravenes the Building Regulations, the local authority may prosecute them in the Magistrates’ Court where an unlimited fine may be imposed (sections 35 and 35A of the Building Act 1984). Prosecution is possible up to two years after the completion of the offending work. This action will usually be taken against the person carrying out the work (builder, installer or main contractor).

Alternatively, or in addition, the local authority may serve an enforcement notice on the building owner requiring alteration or removal of 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.

A section 36 enforcement notice cannot be served on you after the expiration of 12 months from the date of completion of the building work. A local authority also cannot take enforcement action under section 36 if the work which you have carried out is in accordance with your full plans application which the authority approved or failed to reject.

An appeal against a section 36 notice may be made to a Magistrates’ Court under section 102 of the Building Act.

Where an approved inspector is providing the building control service, the responsibility for checking that the building regulations are complied with during the course of your building work will lie with that inspector. They will usually do this by advising you.

However, approved inspectors do not have formal enforcement powers. In a situation where the inspector considers your building work does not comply with the building regulations and there is a refusal to bring it into compliance the inspector will cancel the initial notice. If no other approved inspector takes on the work, the building control function will automatically be taken on by your local authority. From this point on, your local authority will also have enforcement powers set out above where it considers this necessary.

Impact on Selling the Property
Notwithstanding the possibility of enforcement action, you should bear in mind that if the local authority or approved inspector considers that building work carried out does not comply with the building regulations and it is not rectified, no completion/final certificate will be issued and this is likely to come to light through a local land search enquiry when you wish to sell your property.
Difference between building regulations and planning permission

It is generally realised that a form of permission is required for building work or alterations of properties. However, it may not always be clear how the planning and building regulations approval regimes differ. 
You may also have responsibilities under the construction health and safety regulations.

Building regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.

Planning seeks to guide the way our towns, cities and countryside develop. This includes the use of land & buildings, the appearance of buildings, landscaping considerations, highway access and the impact that the development will have on the general environment.

For many types of building work, separate permission under both regimes (separate processes) will be required. For other building work, such as internal alterations, buildings regulations approval will probably be needed, but planning permission may not be. If you are in any doubt you should contact your local planning authority or a building control body.

If you are carrying out, or having construction or building work done, you may need to notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and may have other duties as well under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015). Although a domestic client does not have duties under CDM 2015, those who work for them on construction projects will.

Contact us for more information 
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