Last edited 22 Feb 2021

Building regulations completion certificate

The building regulations apply to most new buildings and many alterations to existing buildings. They set out:

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.

Building Regulations approvals can be sought either from the building control department of the local authority or from an approved inspector. These are referred to as the building control body.

Notice must be given to the building control body when works are completed.

A completion certificate is then issued by the building control body (or a 'final certificate' if the building control body is an approved inspector - although this can be confusing as the term final certificate is also used in construction contracts to refer to completion of the works), providing formal evidence that the building works have been approved and that, in so far as it is reasonable to determine, the works have been carried out in accordance with the building regulations.

Completion certificates were introduced for building regulations applications in the late-1980s and 1990s. Even then however, solicitors generally did not consider building regulations approvals in property searches during conveyancing, particularly if alterations were more than 12 months old.

However, in the case of Cottingham v Attey Bower & Jones [2000], this practice was judged to be negligent. Subsequently, it has become very important to obtain a completion certificate, or there may be difficulties in selling a property.

Completion certificates became a requirement where buildings were within the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (that is, for non-domestic buildings and blocks of flats). For other properties, completion certificates were only issued if they were requested.

However, in December 2012, The Building Regulations &c. (Amendment) Regulations 2012 were introduced. This amendment removed the need to request a completion certificate from a local authority and instead required that where a local authority is satisfied that works meet the building regulations, it must give a completion certificate. It also requires that completion certificates are issued within 8 weeks. (Ref. Communities and Local Government Circular 02/2012 19 December 2012)

No such requirement was introduced for building notice applications, although completion certificates may still be requested from the local authority.

It is important to ensure that a completion certificate is sought as failure to do so is now likely to emerge during local land search enquiries when a property is sold and this can cause difficulties.

If a certificate has been lost, a copy can be obtained from the local authority, although a fee may be payable.

Where minor works are carried out to a property, a certificate may be issued by a trades person under the competent persons schemes. This allows registered installers who are competent in their field to self-certify certain types of building work. For example, air-tightness testing, plumbing and heating installers, electrical installers, cavity wall insulation installers, and so on. These are referred to as building regulations certificates of compliance.

See also: Plans certificate.

NB Manual to the Building Regulations: A code of practice for use in England, published by HM Government in July 2020, states: ‘Completion certificates are issued by the local authority to confirm that it has taken reasonable steps to ensure that there is evidence, but not necessarily conclusive evidence, that the work complies with the relevant requirements of the Building Regulations.’

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki


Can a Building Regs Completion Certificate be issued in respect of a Section of works which will receive a sectional completion certificate under a building contract or would such a certificate be a 'partial certificate' and therefore not have the same effect as a Building Regs Completion Certificate?

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