As lockdown measures continue to remain in place across the UK, we have noticed an uptick in the number of people embarking upon major home improvement projects. The government has also announced that the Stamp Duty holiday will be continuing for another few months, meaning it is likely house prices will remain high and a larger number of people will opt to improve the home they already live in instead of moving to a new house.
If you’re among those upgrading their homes by adding an extension, converting the loft or even building a garden room but you’re unfamiliar with the world of construction, you might be coming across lots of unfamiliar terms as you try to plan your project. To combat this, we’ve put together the YDBC Guide to Building Control to help you out. Here at YDBC, we aim to provide a professional and helpful service that exceeds your expectations.
This guide aims to help you understand what building control actually is and ensure your home upgrades are fully compliant with the laws surrounding building work.
What is building control?
In the UK, building regulations are the minimum standards for the design, construction and alterations to almost all buildings. The regulations are supported by Approved Documents that set out guidance on how to comply with the regulations.
The UK’s building regulations make it a requirement that a project’s compliance is independently verified – this is where building control comes in. A building control surveyor checks that building work complies with the regulations.
Is Building Control different to Planning Permission?
Building control is different to planning permission and you may need both for your project. Generally, when you begin a construction project, you will need some form of permission.
Planning permission aims to guide the way areas develop and includes the way buildings appear and are used and the impact that the construction will have on the surrounding environment. Meanwhile, the building regulations are designed to ensure that buildings are safe and use energy in appropriate ways and building control establishes that construction work is adhering to these rules.
Generally speaking, internal alterations are an example of something that will probably require building control but not planning permission. However, you should always check with your local planning authority or building control body in order to establish what permissions you need for your specific project.
Who is responsible for building control?
When construction work takes place, the land or property owner is responsible for complying with all the relevant planning rules and building regulations. If work is taking place at your home, you can seek out a building control body yourself, or your architect or builder can organise it for you.
If you fail to comply with the building regulations, you could face a fine. Consequences can also include demolition or restoration and as the land or property owner, you are liable for any and all remedial works. Therefore, it is essential to ensure you have taken action to ensure your project complies with the building regulations.
There are two options for building control: you can use your Local Authority’s service, or you can choose an Approved Inspector. We talk more about the differences between the two in our article: Local Authority Building Control or Approved Inspector?
Who regulates building control?
The building regulations are developed by the UK government and approved by Parliament. In England, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is responsible for the Building Regulations.
Approved Inspectors can independently carry out building control duties separately from Local Authority building control. They are highly regulated and must be registered with CICAIR (Construction Industry Council Approved Inspectors Register). To retain their status as Approved Inspectors, organisations must undergo regular audits and demonstrate they are adhering to defined levels of service standards.
When should building control be notified?
After officially appointing a building control body for your project, your appointed Building Control surveyor must submit an Initial Notice to your local authority, which is deemed as accepted after five working days. You cannot begin any work until the Initial Notice has been accepted. Approval must also be given before a new building can be used or occupied.
As an Approved Inspector, YDBC can help you with building control for your project, simply send us your plans and we’ll provide you with a quote.
Disclaimer: you should always seek advice from the relevant authorities for your specific project before starting work. The information in this guide is intended as an overview of things to consider and does not constitute official advice.