What are the Building Regulations?
The Building Regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings, primarily to ensure the safety and health for people in or around those buildings, but also for energy conservation and access to and about buildings.
Why comply with the Building Regulations?
It's important to understand building regulations as you are responsible for making sure that the work complies with them if you are carrying out building work personally.
If you are employing a builder, the responsibility will usually be theirs - but you should confirm this at the beginning. 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.
Remember that complying with Building Regulations is a separate matter from getting planning permission for your work.
What building work should comply with Building Regulations?
The following types of project amount to 'Building Work' as defined in Regulation 3 of the Building Regulations:
- 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
If you are planning to carry out such work, then it should comply with the Building Regulations.
The works themselves should meet the relevant technical requirements in the Building Regulations and they should not make other fabric, services and fittings less compliant than they previously were - or dangerous. For example, if you replace external windows or doors the building should comply to at least the same degree as it did before or, where it exceeded the standards, not be reduced below the standards in relation to:
- means of escape from fire
- air supply for combustion appliances and their flues
Also, in this example, the replacement window / door should also fully satisfy the requirements for energy conservation and ventilation for health
The Building Regulations 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 upgraded to meet additional requirements specified in the regulations for which building work may also be required.
What the regulations cover
The requirements with which building work should comply are contained in Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations and are grouped under the fourteen 'parts' below:
- Part A - Structure
- Part B - Fire safety
- Part C - Site preparation and resistance to moisture
- Part D - Toxic substances
- Part E - Resistance to the passage of sound
- Part F - Ventilation
- Part G - Hygiene
- Part H - Drainage and waste disposal
- Part J - Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems
- Part K - Protection from falling, collision and impact
- Part L - Conservation of fuel and power
- Part M - Access to and use of buildings
- Part N - Glazing - safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning
- Part P - Electrical safety
They set out the broad objectives or functions which the individual aspects of the building design and construction should set out to achieve. They are therefore often referred to as 'functional requirements' and are expressed in terms of what is 'reasonable', 'adequate', or 'appropriate'. Not all the functional requirements may apply to your building work, but all those which do apply should be complied with as part of the overall process of complying with the Building Regulations.
Government publishes guidance on ways of meeting these requirements in what are known as Approved Documents. The guidance in these documents does not have to be followed if you wish to satisfy the requirements in some other way, but it will be taken into account when your building control service is considering whether your plans of proposed work, or work in progress, are to be approved or not.
The following link will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local authority website where you can find out more.
Buildings and building work exempt from Building Regulations
There are a number of classes of new buildings or extensions of existing buildings that do not need Building Regulations approval - subject to certain criteria on size, construction and position relative to boundaries being met. The following are examples of such buildings and extensions. Please note that they may require planning permission.
- garden sheds
- domestic garages
- covered way
- covered yards
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