Last edited 28 Feb 2021

Building control - regulations and procedures


[edit] Introduction

The first set of national building standards was introduced in 1965. Now known as the Building Regulations, they set out:

[edit] Building regulations

In England, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) 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 about how specific aspects of building design and construction can comply with the Building Regulations.

For more information see: Building regulations.

It is an offence to contravene the building regulations, or to start work that requires a building regulations application without submitting an application, or occupying or using a new building without approval. 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.

[edit] Procedure

The building regulations require that a project's compliance is independently verified. Building control bodies (BCBs) are responsible for checking building work to verify it complies with the regulations. This includes new buildings, alterations, installations and extensions. Historically, this verification could only be carried out by local authorities, however, it can now also be provided by privately appointed approved inspectors.

For more information see: Building control officer.

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.

For more information, see Full plans.

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.

For more information, see Building notice.

It is now also possible for competent persons to self-certify that certain work complies with the building regulations without submitting a building notice or incurring local authority fees.

For more information see: Competent person self-certifications schemes.

[edit] Enforcement

A local authority has a general duty to enforce the building regulations in its area and will seek to do so by informal means wherever possible. If informal enforcement does not achieve compliance with the regulations the local authority has two formal enforcement powers which it may use in appropriate cases:

For more information see: What happens if you fail to comply with building regulations.

[edit] Reform

Building control has been subject to scrutiny following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

On 16 May 2018, Building a Safer Future, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report, was published, setting out more than 50 recommendations for government as to how to deliver a more robust regulatory system. The recommendations of the report included a new regulatory framework for multi-occupancy higher-risk residential buildings (HRRBs) that are 10 storeys or more in height, and a new Joint Competent Authority (JCA) comprising Local Authority Building Standards, fire and rescue authorities and the Health and Safety Executive to oversee better management of safety risks.

For more information, see Hackitt review of the building regulations and fire safety, final report.

In July 2020, the ‘Future of building control working group’ published 11 key recommendations for the future oversight and regulation of the profession and Building Control Bodies including:


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