Last edited 20 Mar 2015

Building control Northern Ireland

The building regulations set out requirements for specific aspects of building design and construction, such as; health, structural stability, fire safety, energy conservation and accessibility.

In Northern Ireland, the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 are made by the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP), which also publishes technical guidance booklets which they recommended are followed during the course of construction.

Local councils have a statutory duty to enforce the building regulations by assessing plans submitted and through site inspections. When construction has finished and a building is completed, a certificate of completion will be granted by building control if they are satisfied that all the necessary building regulations have been adhered to.

Building Control Northern Ireland is responsible for ensuring that the building regulations are enforced by local councils. This is a voluntary umbrella group of the 26 council departments and five Group Building Control Offices. The Group Units have a statutory role monitoring and co-ordinating the work of the Councils in their area, to ensure uniformity and consistency in interpretation, application and enforcement.

Building regulations are applicable to the majority of building works and an application is required before beginning work. Applications are needed for:

  • New builds.
  • Dwellings.
  • Detached garages (over 30m2 floor area).
  • Extensions to existing properties.
  • Alterations to a building’s structure.
  • Removal of walls.
  • Installation of patio doors.
  • Conversion of roof space.
  • Attached garages.
  • Thermal alterations.
  • Cavity wall installation.
  • Removal of thermal elements.
  • Alteration of use of a building.
  • Installation of works and fittings.
  • Drainage alterations.
  • Mains powered smoke detectors.
  • Pressurised domestic hot water systems.
  • Building work affecting fire safety.
  • Work of a minor nature, including installing heating appliances and systems.
  • Some repair work to buildings.

Applications can be Full Plans applications, where a ‘Notice of Passing of Plans’ is obtained for the design shown on drawings, or can be a building notice application (sometimes permitted for domestic proposals) where work is carried out without the submission of full plans but instead is inspected on site.

It is advisable to contact the local Building Control Services to determine the appropriate application method and to discuss projects before making an application. In some circumstances, works may be exempt from the building regulations but they may require other approvals and so it is still recommended that developers contact Building Control Services before beginning work.

Applications for building regulations approval require payment of a fee, the amount of which depends on the type of works proposed. A fee calculator is available to assist with estimating the fees for domestic buildings.

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