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  • Paul, Compliance Manager

Do I need Building Regulations?


Things you should know before you choose your builder


‘Do I need building regulations?’ is a question that we hear quite a lot. Here in our latest blog we cover what building regulations are, why they are necessary and what types of buildings they apply to…

What are the Building Regulations?

The Building Regulations are a set of rules covering almost all aspects of building construction. They are government regulations and it is a legal requirement that construction projects comply with them.

Why are they necessary?

Buildings are the highest cost items that most people ever buy, they’re also very technical, and they can be extremely dangerous. Without protection, intending purchasers would probably be unable to judge whether the structure was likely to collapse on top of them, whether the electrical system might give them shocks or whether fumes from the boiler might gas them in their sleep.


As well as the purchaser of a building, the general public is at risk from a building with unsound structure, with inadequate fire prevention, or with drains that could spread disease – and these are some of the potentially fatal hazards. There are many other hazards with less severe potential consequences, but unacceptable nonetheless. Both the general public and purchasers of buildings or building projects deserve protection from these hazards and the Building Regulations, backed by the expertise of building inspectors, provide it.

What aspects of building do the regulations cover?

They’re divided into 17 sections:

A: Structure, B: Fire Safety, C: Site Preparation and Damp-proofing, D: Toxic Substances, E: Soundproofing, F: Ventilation, G: Hygiene, H: Drainage and Waste Disposal, J: Heating Appliances, K: Stairs, Ramps and Guards, L: Conservation of Heat and Power, M: Access and Facilities for Disabled People, N: Glazing Materials and Protection, P: Electrical Safety, Q: Security, R: Infrastructure for Electronic Communications, S: Infrastructure for Charging Electric Vehicles

- So it’s quite hard to think of an aspect of building construction that isn’t covered.


What types of building do they apply to?

All buildings are covered with the following exceptions:

  • Buildings controlled by other legislation, e.g. explosives factories and stores, most buildings covered by the Nuclear Installations Act and scheduled ancient monuments

  • Buildings not frequented by people – provided they’re not close to buildings that are frequented by people

  • Bona fide greenhouses and agricultural buildings – but you can’t build a greenhouse then use it as a home office.

  • Ancillary buildings such as estate agents’ temporary sales offices on new estates

  • Small detached buildings such as garages, provided they’re not close to the property’s boundary and aren’t built of combustible materials.


Can you at least build a garden wall?

Yes, you can, but check what height your local council allows – and there’s some good guidance in Part A (Structure) of the Building Regulations. That’s their great benefit. They’re a huge source of information on how to build sound, durable buildings with all sorts of aspects you might not think of, such as requiring toughened glass in places where a child might fall against a window or secure windows where burglars might break in – including by climbing onto the roof of your new extension..

So, you have to struggle through loads of government regulation before you start building?

Well, it’s true that the Building Regulations are a pretty heavyweight package, but luckily they’re split down into a set of 26 Approved Documents, that give details of each regulation plus guidance on how best to comply. You don’t have to follow the guidance but if you don’t, you have to demonstrate that your design complies with the regulation in a different way.


What’s the procedure for getting approval?

Yes you can. You can issue a Building Notice, (and the fee) giving a minimum of 24 hours’ notice of your intention to start work. The Building Inspector will visit to ensure you make a good compliant start – or warn you not to start if your plans don’t comply. Building Inspectors are human beings so they’re all different, but in general, they’re funds of good advice. However, they do have busy schedules and can’t neglect other construction sites just for one that hasn’t prepared properly. You need the inspector’s Completion Certificate at the end of your project, substantiating that it has been built in compliance with Building Regulations. You will have had a calmer more confident journey towards this if you applied for and received Building Regulations approval before you started work.


Can you avoid the delay of waiting for their approval?

Yes you can. You can issue a Building Notice, (and the fee) giving a minimum of 24 hours’ notice of your intention to start work. The Building Inspector will visit to ensure you make a good compliant start – or warn you not to start if your plans don’t comply. Building Inspectors are human beings so they’re all different, but in general, they’re funds of good advice. However, they do have busy schedules and can’t neglect other construction sites just for one that hasn’t prepared properly. You need the inspector’s Completion Certificate at the end of your project, substantiating that it has been built in compliance with Building Regulations. You will have had a calmer more confident journey towards this if you applied for and received Building Regulations approval before you started work.

Conclusion:

Isn’t getting Building Regulations approval a massive problem? There’s a lot of work involved, yes – apart from in very simple projects, but don’t forget the reasons why the Building Regulations are necessary. Because badly built buildings can be death-traps – to members of the public as well as to the occupiers - control of building is necessary. Because buildings vary so much in their uses, their shapes and sizes, their locations, their materials, etc. the regulations are bound to be complex – but they are absolutely essential.


Here at Saunders Brothers we take Health and Safety of anyone we work with or who enters onto our construction sites very seriously. You may find our blogs ‘Frequently asked questions by homeowners’ or ‘Tips when choosing your builder’ very useful to you as well as our dedicated ‘Homeowners’ page.

If there's anything you'd like to know that's not covered here, please do contact one of our friendly team at mail@saundersbrothers.co.uk or call us on 01844 273783 as we'll only be too happy to help.



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