Article: Building regulations
The first set of national building standards was introduced in 1965. The Building Regulations established standards that had to be followed.
In general, the building regulations:
- Define what qualifies as ‘building work’ and so falls under the control of the regulations.
- Explain what types of buildings are exempt (such as temporary buildings).
- Set out the notification procedures that must be followed when starting, carrying out, and completing building work.
- Set out requirements for specific aspects of building design and construction.
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.
A series of approved documents provide general guidance on how these specific aspects of building design and construction can comply with the Building Regulations:
- Part A: Structural safety.
- Part B: Fire safety.
- Part C: Resistance to contaminants and moisture.
- Part D: Toxic substances.
- Part E: Resistance to sound.
- Part F: Ventilation.
- Part G: Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency.
- Part H: Drainage and waste disposal.
- Part J: Heat producing appliances.
- Part K: Protection from falling.
- Part L: Conservation of fuel and power.
- Part M: Access to and use of buildings.
- Part N: Glazing safety (to be withdrawn on 6 April 2013).
- Part P: Electrical safety.
Building Regulations approvals can be sought either from the building control department of the local authority or from an approved inspector. In either case, a fee will be payable, relative to the type of building and the construction cost. Fee schedules can be obtained from the building control department of the local authority. It is now also possible for competent persons to self-certify that their work complies with the building regulations without submitting a building notice or incurring local authority fees.
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. This does leave the client at risk that completed works might not be approved, resulting in remedial costs. Full plans approvals are also subject to inspection during the course of the works at stages decided by the local authority (typically during the construction of foundations, damp proof courses and drains and perhaps other key stages), but as long as the work is carried out in accordance with the approved design, the risk of problems is very much reduced.
In the event of disagreement about an approval, a ‘determination’ can be sought (before the works start) from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government or from Welsh Ministers in the Welsh Assembly Government. It is also possible to seek relaxation or dispensation of the regulations from the building control department of the local authority under certain circumstances (see Department for Communities and Local Government guidance).
It is important to ensure that a completion certificate (sometimes called a notice of approval or a final certificate - although this can be confused with the final certificate for the main construction contract) is sought from the approving body as evidence that the works comply with the regulations. NB Under changes to the building regulations made in December 2012, Local Authorities must give completion certificates, they do not need to be requested. In addition, the Secretary of State (or an approval body) will maintain a central register of notices of approval and declarations of insurance for approved inspectors (approved inspectors must have insurance from a scheme approved by the Secretary of State, which includes mandatory run-off cover).
A full plans approval notice is valid for three years from the date of deposit of the plans. This can be very important given the speed at which the regulations change, meaning that a building which has been approved, but not built may require re-design and further approval if construction is delayed and the regulations change.
Failure to comply with the Building Regulations can result in a fine and/or an enforcement notice requiring rectification of the works. There is also a regularisation process for getting approval for works that have been carried out without approval (see Planning Portal guidance).
In Scotland, Scottish Ministers are responsible for the Building Regulations (Building Standards) and associated guidance (ref The Scottish Government: Building Standards). The 32 local authorities administer the Building Standards system and are responsible for granting permissions (Building Warrants) and Completion Certificates.
In Wales, Building Regulations that previously applied to England and Wales continue to apply, but from 01 January 2012, any revisions to the English regulations apply to England only. New regulations and guidance are the responsibility of the Welsh government (ref Welsh Government: Building Regulations). Approvals are granted by the local authorities.
 Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 are made by the Department of Finance and Personnel (ref Building Control Northern Ireland). They are administered by the 26 District Councils.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Approved documents.
- Approved inspector.
- Penfold Review.
- Planning permission.
- Statutory approvals.
- Statutory authorities.
- United Kingdom.
 External references
- Approved documents can be downloaded from the Planning portal.
- The Communities and Local Government Building Regulations website.
- bd online subscriber-only technical articles about the building regulations.
- Department for Communities and Local Government: Building Regulations, Explanatory booklet. (now archived)
- Local authority building control guidance.
- The Building Regulations in full.
- Department for Communities and Local Government.
- CLG: Determinations and appeals.