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    Building Regulations

    Before you begin any DIY project involving building or major renovation work, you should check to see if you require approval from your local Building Control department. This is not the same thing as planning permission, which may also be required.

    Any alteration or repair to your house that may affect health and safety, access, or energy conservation must conform to Building Regulations and be approved by Building Control. If you are doing the work yourself, you will be responsible for making sure it complies with the regulations.

    It is advisable, though not compulsory, to inform your neighbours of your plans and ensure that the building work will not affect their property. You should also check with your local planning office that your building work does not contravene any bye-laws, and that there are no covenants in the deeds of your house which prohibit certain alterations.

    Work requiring Building Control approval includes:

    • Building an extension
    • Installing cavity insulation
    • Foundation work
    • Installing or altering services and fixtures covered by the Building Regulations
    • Any alterations which will affect the building's overall compliance with the Building Regulations - so even small jobs may require approval if they affect the safety of other components or of the whole building.

    Regulations summary

    There are 14 sections within the Building Regulations:

    Part Area of control
    BFire Safety
    CSite preparation and resistance to mositure 
    DToxic substances
    EResistance to the passage of sound
    HDrainage and waste disposal
    JCombustion appliances and fuel storage systems 
    KProtection from falling, collision and impact
    LConservation of fuel and power
    MAccess to and use of buildings
    NGlazing - safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning
    PElectrical safety

    There are a number of construction projects that you can undertake without Building Control approval, though you may still need planning permission. These include:

    Outbuildings - including any detached single-storey building with no sleeping accommodation that covers an area smaller than 30 sq metres e.g. garden sheds, summer-houses, shelters and storage buildings. These should be constructed from non-combustible materials if they are within 1 metre (3ft 3in) of a boundary.

    Domestic garages - with a floor area under 30 sq metres. These should be constructed from non-combustible materials if they are within 1 metre (3ft 3in) of a boundary.

    Greenhouses or conservatories - with a floor area less than 30 sq metres. There are other cnditions that conservatories must meet for Building Control approval to be uneccessary which you should check with your local Building control department. However, a conservatory's glazing and any fixed electrical installation must comply with the relevant Building Regulations.

    Porches - which are only subject to Part N of Building Regulations relating to glazing safety.

    Carports - providing they are smaller than 30 sq metres and open on two sides.

    Parking - for private use only.

    Swimming pools - however, it is wise to notify the Building Control Department in case there are any underground pipes or cables in the area. Swimming pool enclosures may be subject to regulations.

    Agricultural buildings

    Walls and fences

    Temporary buildings

    How to apply

    There are two ways of gaining Building Control approval: you can apply to your Local Area Building Control (LABC) or a private building control services company with an approved inspector. The cost for either of these options will depend on the type of work you are carrying out. A price list is available from your local Building Control department.

    If you seek permission from your LABC, there are two types of application you can make. Both types are valid for three years and can be appealed.

    A Full Plans Application

    This takes about five weeks to process and is necessary for large or complex alterations. You must pay to have your plans reviewed and then again for inspection, and will be given a formal notice of approval.

    A Building Notice

    This is a faster method for small projects. You only pay once when you submit the application form, together with a sealed site location plan. Simply commence work on the date you specified and an inspector will be sent to check it over on completion.

    Where to find information

    The contact details for your local authority Building Control department should be available on your local council website. Additionally you can find out further information on Building Regulations by contacting the organisations listed below:

    Local Authority Building Control
    020 7641 8737