What are Building Regulations and why do you need them?

Building Regulations have been developed by the government and set minimum standards for the construction of buildings in the UK. Building Regulations also set out minimum requirements regarding sustainability, energy efficiency and health and safety. The standards laid out by Building Regulations refer to every building nationally and apply whether a construction is being newly built or an existing property is being renovated. These standards cover all areas of construction and are updated on a regular basis. The areas covered are: Structure, fire safety, damp proofing, resistance to toxic substances, soundproofing, ventilation, hygiene, sewerage, drainage, installation of heating appliances, safety of staircases and raised areas, energy efficiency, accessibility, safety of glazing and electrical safety.

Building Regulations are essential to ensure that buildings are safe for use and are designed and built to a standard that ensures a high standard of workmanship. Many projects require Building Regulations Approval including:

  • Erecting a new building or extending an existing property.
  • Carrying out a loft conversion.
  • Changing the use of a building.
  • Installing or changing drains or heating appliances.
  • Insulating cavity walls.
  • Changing a roof covering.
  • Underpinning a building.
  • Making a new opening in a building such as a new window.
  • Removing a chimney stack or chimney breasts.
  • Installing replacement windows and doors.
  • Converting a garage into a living space.
  • Converting a house into flats.

There are, however, several projects that can be carried out on your property that do not require compliance with Building Regulations. These include:

  • Construction of a garden wall.
  • Minor repairs to a property.
  • Building a car port.
  • Adding on a small porch or conservatory.

Confusingly, some projects that require compliance with Building Regulations do not require Planning Permission and vice versa.

Planning Permission must be applied for through your Local Planning Authority and is in place to ensure that no inappropriate construction work is carried out. This is to protect conservation areas, to retain the character of an area and to prevent nuisance or disturbance to residents and local businesses. Planning Permission is required to construct a new building and also to carry out major renovation works. Planning Permission however is not required for many smaller domestic renovation projects including loft conversions, addition of a basement, adapting a garage into living space and construction of some outbuildings.

Sometimes both Planning Permission and compliance with Building Regulations is required for your renovation project so it is worth checking before commencing.

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