Building Regulations – Everything you need to know

building regulations

In the case of almost every type of building work, building regulations approval is needed. It can seem like a time-consuming, and frankly, annoying part of your project, but checking everything you plan to do has approval and being given the green light by the authorities at the right time, will save you a lot of money and stress in the long run.

Building regulations are there for a reason. They are a set of standards that all building work must meet, in terms of construction and design, to maintain the health and safety of everyone who will be coming into contact with the building.

However, it’s not just health and safety that building regulations ensure. The Approved Documents are a set of documents that can be accessed online on the government website, see link below, that detail standards that should be met to ensure compliance with building regulations. The Approved Documents cover anything from building accessibility for the disabled, heat and energy conservation and fire safety, to waste disposal and ventilation.

Warning – these documents aren’t an absolutely definitive method of approval, but they are the most frequently used, and provide a framework to work with.

Building approval can be granted either through your local authority, or by an approved inspector. Both methods of gaining approval amount to the same thing, however approved inspectors can be more expensive, but far speedier than a local authority. It’s entirely up to you in terms of your priorities with costs and timing.

Gaining approval happens in two related stages. The first is the Pre-site approval, which means checking everything is okay on paper. The second stage is the On-site approval, which will happen once the building work is taking place, to ensure everything is meeting standards in practise, as well as on paper.

Pre-site approval is the first step. In the main, this can be gained through two ways. The first way is by applying for building regulations approval from your Local Authority Building Control Service by submitting a full planning application. This will then be checked by the local authority, as well as any other relevant local authorities. They must then provide a decision within five weeks, or a maximum of two months if this has been previously agreed.

If you receive approval, you have the green light to go ahead. If you don’t, however, then the plans will need to be amended, or conditions agreed upon.

It is worth noting that a full planning application is very detailed, and it will need to include engineer’s drawings, notes, and construction details.

The second way of applying for building regulations approval is by submitting a building notice to your Local Authority Building Control Service. This is far quicker and simpler, as plans are not required, however it demands confidence that the work complies with building regulations, otherwise alterations may need to be made at a later date.

This process is designed for building alterations of a simpler nature, and ones that need to begin quickly. There are some types of building work that can’t be carried out under this notice, including:


  • A new building that will front onto a private street.
  • Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) regulation 1997
  • Work built over or near the top of rain water and foul drains, shown on sewer map.
  • Building work which is subject to section 1 of the Fire Precautions Act 1971


So, the final step left is On-site approval. This will take place by the Local Authority through several site inspections when the building work reaches a particular stage, for example, at least two days before work begins, and no more than five days after work is completed. Work must be paused to allow the authority to carry out the inspection. Failure to do this may result in the work having to be reopened up.

It may all sound a little daunting, but as long as work fully complies with regulations, things will run smoothly. Remember its always worth checking anything you’re unsure of, hearing horror stories about building work being demolished is never good…


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If you have any further questions about Building Regulations please contact London Building Surveyors today by clicking here, our staff will be happy to help.