Last edited 06 Dec 2015

Building notice for building regulations approval

There are two ways of obtaining building regulations approval; a full plans application and a building notice application.

Generally on larger, new-build projects, a 'full plans' application will be made, meaning that full details of the proposed building works are submitted for approval before the works are carried out. On small projects, or when changes are made to an existing building, approval may be sought by giving a 'building notice'. In this case, a building inspector will approve the works as they are carried out by a process of inspection.

A building notice application can be made with a simple application form, a site plan (if an extension is involved) and the appropriate fee (calculations may also be required for certain aspects depending on the complexity of the project). This means that work can begin very quickly, and need not necessarily involve design consultants.

However, a building notice application leaves the client at risk that completed works might not be approved, resulting in remedial costs. Clients should be certain that their builder is familiar with all the relevant regulations before deciding to follow this route. It is also worth considering that proceeding without a full set of agreed drawings is more likely to result in disputes.

Building control fees for a building notice may be more expensive than for a full plans application.

Building notices cannot be used:

  • For building work to which the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies (generally commercial or industrial buildings).
  • For building work close to, or over the top of rain water or foul drains.
  • Where a new building will front onto a private street.

Inspections must be arranged in advance by giving notice to the building control inspector. Notice is likely to be required at:

Other inspections may be deemed necessary by the inspector.

If the local authority is not given notice of work for inspection it may require that the work is opened up for inspection.

If the local authority believes the building work contravenes the building regulations, they may serve an enforcement notice requiring alteration or removal of the work that contravenes the regulations. It is not possible to ask for a determination (appeal) of an enforcement notice as there are no drawings upon which a determination could be made.

A building notice is valid for three years after which it will automatically lapse if the building work has not begun.

It is important to ensure that a completion certificate is sought as evidence that the works comply with the regulations. Under changes to the building regulations made in December 2012, Local Authorities must give completion certificates, they should not need to be requested.

NB Full plans approvals are also subject to inspection during the course of the works, but as long as the work is carried out in accordance with the approved design, the risk of problems is very much lower than for a building notice application.

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