What are Building Regulations?

Not to be confused with planning applications, the Building Regulations are there to ensure that buildings are made to a minimum quality standard for such things as structure, fire escape, drainage, ventilation, insulation and so on. The regulations can often seem unreasonable, but they are all there for good reasons. Building regulation matters are usually handled by Building Control Officers in the Building Control Department of your local authority but increasingly private licensed inspectors are an alternative. Unlike planning, there is no committee and you should not have to endure a long wait for approvals, normally within 28 days. Works that involve the following will required building control consent:-Structural alterations, perhaps removing a supporting wall or a new opening in a wall. Removal of structure that may have a significance in protecting against fire. Such as perhaps the walls around the stairs of a three storey house (even if not load bearing). New bathroom (but not just replacing existing sanitary ware), new boiler, rewiring, replacement windows etc.

There are two types of building control submission:

1- Full plans submission:

• Building plans are prepared by Bothams Architectural Design and submitted to the council’s Building Control Department with the necessary forms, any other supporting documentation such as calculations and the councils’ fees. Individual councils set their own fees although they are broadly similar amounts. • The fee is usually paid in two parts, an initial amount when the application is submitted and the remainder when work commences although particularly with smaller amounts they may be combined and paid at the beginning. • Building Plans are then examined, quite often a letter will be sent raising some queries and eventually a decision is made to approve or refuse the application for your home extension. • The examination and decision is carried out by Building Control officers and would not generally be referred to council committees or seek the opinion of neighbours as it is basically a technical exercise judged against the requirements of the regulations, not taking into account aspects such as appearance or overlooking. • The approval for your building extension can sometimes be conditional, either adding some additional requirements that may have been omitted or asking for additional information (structural calculations etc.) to be provided at some future date. • It is possible to commence the works before a decision is made provided the required 48 hours notice is given; however, it has the disadvantage of not having an agreed scheme to work to. • When the work commences the Building Inspector will make inspections, there are some that are particularly important such as foundations, drains, damp proof course (dpc) etc. but they may choose to inspect other aspects as well on a regular basis, your builder is responsible for liaising with your local building control and keeping them up to date with progress on site.

2- Building Notice:

• Under this procedure only minimal information is provided to the council at the beginning; usually a form, a small scale site plan and the council’s fee. Some councils now charge more than the combined submission and site inspection fee under the full plans procedure. • In practice the council might for example require structural calculations which in turn could require an accurate plan for an engineer to assess the loads and the council to check. None the less in a number of straightforward cases it can save on the necessity of detailed plans but it is best suited to minor works such as drainage alterations etc. rather than major building works. • Building Notice does require the builder to be very familiar with the regulations and acceptable forms of construction as he will not be working to approved plans. • Site inspections will be made in the same way as the Full Plans procedure although in practice they may need to be longer or more frequent in order to clarify what has been done or needs to be done to comply with the regulations.

How do I apply for Building Regulations’ Approval?

There are two ways to apply for approval under the Building Regulations: the Full Plans method or the Building Notice method. Building Notice Method: Most people find that a Building Notice is the simplest and most appropriate for alterations or small extensions to domestic properties. You should not need detailed drawings for this. To do this a Building Notice form and basic drawings are submitted to the Building Control Department – this has to be done at least 48 hours before work starts on site and can be done by Bothams Architectural Design or the Builder. Once again there is a fee to pay – check with your local authority. Once the work starts, the Building Control Officer will visit the site and make arrangements with the builder to visit at specific points through the progress of the works to check that the works meet the minimum standard that the regulations require. He/She may also request supplementary drawings and information. When the works are complete, you can ask the Building Control Officer to give you a certificate to confirm that everything has been done to the required level. Full Plans Method: The ‘full plans’ method of application is more involved as it requires the submission of up-front detailed drawings that show a great deal of information, such as the fire escape routes, ventilation capacities, for instance. Bothams Architectural Design will provide all the necessary drawings, applications & covering letters for submission as part of the complete design process.

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