Many people dream of building their own home or remodelling the one they already live in. For those who live in the United Kingdom (excluding Scotland and Northern Ireland), taking on such a grand venture requires some navigation around legislature. Before a hammer is even lifted, certain projects require building regulations approval.
The Building Regulations 2010 is a set of guidelines covering what needs to be done during the construction or remodel of a structure. If one chooses to not comply with these regulations, he or she could face fines and possibly prosecution. Fortunately, things haven’t gotten to the point of needing approval to replace a light bulb, and so not all projects need building regulations approval.
Common Repairs, Replacements, and Maintenance Work
Many things fall under this category. A good rule of thumb is if it doesn’t compromise the structural integrity then approval may not be needed (if you’re not sure, it’s best to err on the safe side and check).
So say you bought a home that hasn’t been remodelled since the 1970’s. You prefer a sleek modern look with a splash of rustic country. First things first, that dreadful green carpet which is in every room except the baths and kitchen has to go. You decide to pull it up and replace it with dark hardwood floors. Some of the walls are in need of plastering, and all need a fresh coat of paint. The kitchen countertops will be upgraded to stainless steel, and the drab shower walls will be converted to bright tile.
Such common improvements do not require building regulations approval, but keep in mind projects such as tearing down walls to create an open floor plan might.
Want an extravagant chandelier in the dining room and ceiling fans with light fixtures in each bedroom? Go ahead. Putting in new light and power points doesn’t require approval (unless they’re near baths and showers). Speaking of baths, replacing them or toilets and sinks also doesn’t require approval as long as they’re like-for-like.
Competent Person Scheme
Although many dream of building a gorgeous home or doing a complete remodel, not all have the skill or knowledge to do it on their own. So they seek the services of tradesman. In order to not have to apply for building regulations approval yourself, you can use the competent person scheme which allows you to use certified tradesman who complete work according to the regulations. Search the Competent Persons Register and the Electrical Competent Person Register for a tradesman who suits your needs.
It should be noted that work not needing approval must still meet safety and energy efficiency standards. Also, the criteria for not needing building regulations approval applies to commercial structures as well – not solely residential dwellings. Trying to understand the building regulations can be difficult. If you are not sure whether or not you need approval or are within regulation, seek the help and advice of qualified tradesmen and chartered building surveyors.