Building Regulations

Preparation of Building Regulation Application for submission to Building Control

The vast majority of my Clients are either totally unaware or totally confused regarding the relationship between planning permission and building regulations.

The home owner needs to fully understand and address this process in order to obtain the vital Certificate of Completion from the Building Control Officer (Local Authority or independent inspector) on completion of the project.  Failure to obtain the required Completion Certificate can lead to serious issues when coming to sell the property at a later date.

Planning Consent and Building Regulation Consent are two totally separate elements, which can so often cause confusion.  Once planning consent has been obtained (including Certificate of Lawful Development) and you wish to start the building work, you must address the issue of constructing the extension etc. so it complies with the Building Regulations.  Below, I have set out the process which needs to be followed:-

Prior to the building work commencing and in order to obtain the required Completion Certificate, the householder must notify either one of the following that the work is about to commence:-

  1. The Local Authority Building Control Department
  2. An independent approved Building Control Officer

I normally use the Local Authority Building Control Officer (BCO).  There are two ways of doing this and my preferred method is by submitting a:

Full Plans Building Regulations application

You can apply for Building Regulation Approval (BRA) from your Local Authority Building Control service by submitting a full plans application.

An application deposited under this procedure needs to contain plans and other information showing all construction details, ideally well in advance of when work is to start on site.

Your Local Authority or independent inspector will check the application and consult any appropriate authorities (e.g. fire and sewage).  They must complete the procedure by issuing you with a Decision within five weeks or, if you agree, a maximum of two months from the date of deposit.

If your plans comply with the Building Regulations, you will receive a Notice stating that they have been approved.  If your Local Authority is not satisfied, you may be asked to make amendments or provide more details.  Alternatively, a conditional approval may be issued.  This will either specify modifications which must be made to the plans; or will specify further plans which must be deposited.

Your Local Authority may only apply conditions if you have either requested them to do so or have consented to them doing so.  A request or consent must be made in writing.  If the plans are rejected, the reasons will be stated in the Notice.  A full plans approval Notice is valid for three years from the date the plans were deposited, after which the Local Authority may send you a Notice to declare the approval of no effect if the building work has not commenced within the time period.

Your Local Authority or independent inspector will carry out inspections of the building work once it is in progress.  They will explain about the notification procedures which the regulations require you to follow at various stages of the work – e.g. in connection with foundations, damp proof courses and drains.

In addition, if you request one when you first make your application, the Local Authority will issue you with a completion certificate provided they are content that the completed work complies with the building regulations.

A further point to bear in mind is that, if a disagreement arises with your Local Authority, the ‘full plans’ procedure enables you to ask for a ‘determination’ from (in England) the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government or (in Wales) the Welsh Assembly Government about whether your plans do or do not comply with the building regulations.

Alternatively, you can simply serve a Building Notice. As full plans are not required, it is quicker and less detailed than the full plans application. It is designed to enable some types of building work to get under way quickly; although it is perhaps best suited to small work.

There are also specific exclusions in the regulations as to when building notices cannot be used. These are:

  • For building work in relation to a building to which the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies, or will apply after the completion of the building work.
  • For work which will be built close to or over the top of rain water and foul drains shown on the ‘map of sewers’
  • Where a new building will front onto a private street.

If you decide to use this procedure you need to be confident that the work will comply with the building regulations or you will risk having to correct any work you carry out if your Local Authority requests this. In this respect you do not have the protection provided by the approval of ‘full plans’.

Once you have given your ‘building notice’ and informed your Local Authority that you are about to start work, the work will be inspected as it progresses. You will be advised by the authority if the work does not comply with the building regulations. If before the start of work, or while work is in progress, your Local Authority requires further information such as structural design calculations or plans, you must supply the details requested.

A ‘Building Notice’ is valid for three years from the date the notice was given to the Local Authority, after which it will automatically lapse if the building work has not commenced.

On satisfactory completion of works a Local Authority will automatically issue a completion certificate under either the full plans or building notice procedure. However, it is only possible to ask for a determination when using the full plans procedure.

Unless otherwise agreed the building contractor should be responsible for notifying the BCO when works have been completed, supplying to the BCO all necessary certification i.e. Part P electrical and Safe As Gas certification and arrange for a final inspection. When the BCO is satisfied that all his/her requirements have been met they will sign the job off and a Completion Certificate will be issued.

Just a little warning though, the BCO is not a quality control manager therefore, so long as the work complies with Building Regulations he/she will not consider the standard of workmanship or other aesthetic considerations.

I almost always advise that I prepare a Full Plans Building Regulations application and submit it on your behalf.