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What are the Building Regulations?

The Building Control system exists to make sure that buildings are properly designed and constructed so as to ensure the health, safety, welfare and convenience of people using them.

     

Building Regulations are originated by the Government Minister for Communities and Local Government and are the minimum acceptable standards for public health, safety, protecting the environment and climate change for all buildings from domestic homes to commercial projects.  The current Building Regulations were introduced in 1991 and have subsequently been amended several times.  The principal areas covered by the regulations are: -

  • structural stability - will the building safely carry anticipated loadings or will it fall down?!
  • fire precautions - both controlling the materials used according to the degree of risk and making sure that buildings could be evacuated without loss of life in the event of a fire.
  • the prevention of dampness and condensation in buildings.
  • sound resistance of walls and floors between dwellings.
  • ventilation of habitable rooms and unheated voids.
  • hygiene, sanitary appliances and drainage.
  • heating appliances including the safe discharge of flue gasses.
  • stairways, ramps and vehicle barriers.
  • conservation of fuel and power. Is the building properly insulated etc.
  • access to buildings and facilities for disabled people.
  • the safe positioning of glazing in windows and doors etc.
  • electrical safety.

If you are having construction or refurbishment work done to your commercial premises, you will have duties under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and may also need to notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Building control generally operates as a two-stage process, referred to as the Full Plans application.  The first stage (known as the plan stage) involves the applicant submitting detailed plans for approval.  These plans are very carefully checked by a Building Control Officer to ensure that all necessary information is shown, and that it complies fully with the Building Regulations.  Wherever possible, applicants are given the opportunity to make amendments (if required) before either an approval, conditional approval or rejection is given.

The second stage (inspection stage) starts when work commences on site after which a series of site visits are made to check that the work proceeds in accordance with the plan, and hence complies with the regulations.  Completions Certificates are issued upon completion.
 
For more simple works an alternative, called the Building Notice application, is also available together with more specialised application types to meet specific needs.

The Regulations are made up of various Parts which are known as the Approved Documents.