The first set of national building standards was introduced in 1965. The 'building regulations' established standards that had to be achieved in the construction of buildings.
The 'approved documents' provide guidance for how the building regulations can be satisfied in common building situations. They are given legal status by the Building Act 1984. There is no obligation to adopt the solutions presented in the approved documents. The building regulations can be satisfied in other ways.
In England, the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) is responsible for the Building Regulations 2010 and The Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 2010. The regulations apply to most new buildings and many alterations to existing buildings.
 The approved documents
 Part A: Structure
Requires buildings to be designed, constructed or altered so as to be structurally safe and robust, and so as not to impair the structural stability of other buildings. It stipulates design standards for use on all buildings and gives simple design rules for most masonry and timber elements for traditional domestic buildings. It includes diagrams of structures such as roof frames and brick walls, and tables of material strengths.
 Part B: Fire safety.
Covers all precautionary measures necessary to provide safety from fires for building occupants, persons in the vicinity of buildings, and firefighters. Requirements and guidance covers means of escape in case of fire, fire detection and warning systems, the fire resistance of structural elements, fire separation, protection, compartmentation and isolation to prevent fire spread, control of flammable materials, and access and facilities for firefighting.
 Part C: Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture.
Includes the weather-tightness and water-tightness of buildings, subsoil drainage, site preparation, and measures to deal with contaminated land, radon, methane, and all other site related hazardous and dangerous substances.
 Part D: Toxic substances.
This controls hazards from the toxic chemicals used in cavity fill insulation systems.
See approved document d for more information.
 Part E: Resistance to the passage of sound.
Deals with requirements for sound insulation between buildings, including both new dwellings and the conversion of buildings to form dwellings. these cover sound reduction between rooms for residential purposes and designated rooms in dwellings, and acoustic conditions for common areas in flats and schools.
 Part F: Ventilation.
 Part G: Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency.
Lays down standards for the provision of sanitary and washing facilities, bathrooms and hot water provision. It also covers safety requirements in respect to unvented hot water systems.
See Approved Document G for more information.
 Part H: Drainage and waste disposal.
Requires that adequate drainage, and also deals with pollution prevention and sewage infrastructure and maintenance. Technical design standards cover sanitary pipework, foul drainage, rainwater drainage and disposal, wastewater treatment, and discharges and cesspools.
 Part J: Heat producing appliances and Fuel storage system.
Covers the construction, installation and use of boilers, chimneys, flues, hearths and fuel storage installations. Also requirements to control fire sources and prevent burning, pollution, carbon monoxide poisoning, etc.
 Part K: Protection from falling, collision and impact.
Set standards for the safety of stairways, ramps and ladders, together with requirements for balustrading, windows, and vehicle barriers to prevent falling. Also include are requirements for guarding against and warning of, hazards from the use and position of doors and windows.
Controls the insulation values of buildings elements, the allowable area of windows, doors and other opening, the air permeability of the structure, the heating efficiency of boilers, hot water storage and lighting. It also controls mechanical ventilation and air conditioning systems, space heating controls, airtightness testing of larger buildings, solar emission, the certification, testing and commissioning of heating and ventilation systems, and requirements for energy meters. It also sets requirements for Carbon Index ratings.
See Approved Document L for more information.
 Part M: Access to and use of buildings.
Requires the inclusive provision of ease of access to, and circulation within, all buildings, together with requirements for facilities for disabled people.
See Approved Document M for more information.
 Part N: Glazing - Safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning.
(Withdrawn on 6 April 2013 other than in Wales where it still applies).
Lays down the requirements for the use of safety glazing to avoid impact hazard and for the suitable awareness and definition of glazed areas. Also included are safety requirements relating to the use and cleaning of windows.
 Part P: Electrical safety.
Covers the design, installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations in order to prevent injuries from electrical shocks and burns, and to prevent injuries arising from fires due to electrical components overheating or arcing.
See Approved Document P for more information.
From 1 October 2015 for use in England, it provides that reasonable provision must be made to resist unauthorised access to any dwelling; and any part of a building from which access can be gained to a flat within the building.
See Approved Document Q for more information.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Approved document D.
- Approved document G.
- Approved document L.
- Approved document M.
- Approved document Q.
- Approved document P.
- Approved inspector.
- Building control bodies.
- Building Regulations.
- Competent person schemes.
- Construction Products Regulations.
- Energy certificates.
- Housing standards review.
- Northern Ireland building regulations.
- Planning permission.
- Scottish building standards.
- Statutory approvals.
- Statutory authorities.
- The Building Act.
- Welsh building regulations.
- Blog: Delays to Part L: A Risk to Industry Growth, July 2013.
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