In our view, the Building Regulations stage of a project is one of the most crucial to ensure a smooth process, as if you come into problems with them, it can be costly in both terms of time as well as your budget. So we have put together some of the most common questions about Building Regulations in a handy guide for you.
What are building regulations?
Building Regulations or Building
Regs are a set of 18 Approved Documents which detail how buildings should be constructed to ensure that they are safe, efficient and non-discriminatory. They range from topics such as Protecting from Falling in Document K, Access to buildings (including all elements of ensuring buildings are accessible for people with disabilities in Document M,) right through to details
such as ventilation or electrical safety.
They encompass all areas of building and ensure that homes built in the United Kingdom are of the highest quality, the safest, most efficient and accessible buildings anywhere in the world. They are a benchmark for quality and construction in the UK.
How do they affect me and my project?
All building work in the UK must comply with the Regulations and the local authority must be sufficiently satisfied that they have complied. This ranges from full new build houses through to having a new boiler fitted, the works must comply. Some works however do not need you to apply for approval, if the works are completed by a person who is on the 'competent persons register' - this applies to smaller scale works, like the previously mentioned boilers, electrics, glazing and so forth. (https://www.competentperson.co.uk)
If a person chooses to not get building regulations approval and it is then found that the house has been built in a non-compliant manner, the local authority can be granted the power to enforce its amendment, at your cost, to make it compliant, so it is vital you are conforming to these starts from the start.
How do I get approval?
There are two main avenues for gaining building control approval for a extension or new build project, one is by applying directly to the local authority BCB (building control body) or the other is by using a private, approved inspector who will then inform the local authority that the works are conforming. It is up to you which you choose, however on TFQ Architects projects we typically utilise the local authority and make our application directly with them.
There are two types of application you can submit - either full plans applications or 'building notice' applications.
Full plans applications involve submitting a package of drawings containing the relevant information to show conformity, often accompanied by various documents such as SAP calculations, building regulations notes, specifications and details sections. This is the most thorough form of application and the type we typically apply for on the projects we are involved in.
Building Notice applications are for smaller projects and do not involve submitting plans, meaning it is quicker and easier to get started on site, but they do involve inspections from the authority and you must be confident that the person doing the works will comply with regulations, otherwise you may have to foot the bill for any amendments. We have heard horror stories from clients where they have not appointed an architect and have cracked on with building work without approval from Building Control and have had to pay thousands of pounds to make changes to meet the rules.
How long does it take?
Building Notices are much quicker and works can start within 2 days of the application, however with Full Plans applications on larger projects, they can take anywhere between a few weeks to several months to gain approval.
What about my existing/listed building?
You must be thinking, hang on, my Cornish Barn is 500 years old, they didn't have Building Regulations then, so am I expected to comply now?
Well, if you are adding a new element to the building, this element should comply with the building regulations, however with existing elements of the building, the policy is such that after building works are completed, the building should not be in a LESS acceptable state of compliance than before. So basically, you cannot make it less compliant, but you can make it more.
When it comes to energy efficiency (Document L) with listed buildings, whilst every effort should be made to make these buildings energy efficient, the aim is to do so as reasonably practicable without ruining the appearance/character of the building itself.
If you are ever in any doubt about your compliance, you can always reach out to a professional architect to can offer guidance and act as an agent for you between yourself and the local planning/building control authority.
Should I use an Architect?
Full Plans Building Regulations require technical expertise to ensure that details and specifications are compliant. Things must be drawn correctly, with an understanding of the Building Regs themselves critical to ensuring a smooth journey through the process.
It is safe to say that delays at the building regulations stage are the most common delay for those who have chosen not to appoint a professional Architect, from our experience. It is vital to get the know how as early as possible, as realistically, there is not much point labouring time and money over a design which is not going to be compliant.
If you involve a professional Architect, you will be designing a compliant building from the start, possibly saving you time and money in the process.
How do TFQ help?
TFQ Architects include quotes for all of the stages of the RIBA Plan of Works, meaning from initial surveys through to building regulations approval and construction drawings, meaning you know exactly how much each service will cost you from day one, but also meaning that you can be confident you are going to have the information you require, to the required detail throughout the entire process.
Projects need to run smoothly, so we ensure that information is there when it is needed, making sure that your project moves smoothly through the process, making it much more likely to complete on time and on budget.
TFQ work with many self builders and developers across the South West to make their homes happen. We provide comprehensive Architectural services for projects of varying scales. If you would like to discuss your project with us, please get in touch.
HONEST, QUALITY ARCHITECTURE.