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BUILDING REGULATIONS

Key Points

Building work must be carried out in accordance with Building Regulation requirements. Building Regulation approval must be obtained where building works are carried out and likewise where there is a change of use e.g. dwelling to flat or vice versa. In certain circumstances the Building Notice Procedure can be used instead. Building Regulations play an increasingly important part in addressing issues such as insulation and domestic electrical safety. Generally speaking, the Regulations only apply if building work is carried out. The Regulations are administered by local authorities or private approved building inspectors. Notice must be given to building control as works progress.

The Regulations

The current regulations made under the Building Act 1984 are the Building Regulations 2000 (as subsequently amended).

IMPORTANT - England and Wales are separate for Building Regulation purposes. Each can make their own regulations. If the property is located in Wales you need to check if different requirements apply..

When do they apply?

  1. Building regulations apply to “building work” or where there is a “material change of use”.
  2. For these purposes “building work” means:-
    1. a. Erecting a building
    2. b. The extension of a building.
    3. c. The provision or extension of a controlled service or fitting (i.e. w.c., wash hand basin, bath, shower, hot water storage system, hot/cold water supply to wash hand basin or bath/shower, foul water drainage, septic tanks etc, rain water drainage, waste storage, heating appliances, space heating/hot water systems and electrical installations.
    4. d. Material alteration to a building or a controlled service/fitting (i.e. one which would result in a building or controlled service/fitting not complying with the regulations when previously it did or, if it did not comply before, will be less satisfactory as a result.
    5. e. Work required in connection with a material change of use (see below).
    6. f. Cavity wall insulation.
    7. g. Under pinning.
    8. h. Work affecting thermal elements/energy performance or a change in energy status
  3. A material change of use comprises certain changes of use in the purpose for which the building is used including change to use as a dwelling or to a flat. It also includes changes in the number of dwellings in a building.
  4. Building Regulation Requirements


  5. Building work must be carried out so that it complies with the applicable Requirements and in complying with any such requirement there must be no failure to comply with any other Requirement. Once it has been completed it must comply with the applicable requirements. Where it did not do so before it must be no less satisfactory than it was before the work was carried out. This encapsulates the normal rule that Building Regulations only need to be complied with when work is actually carried out or there is a material change of use for the purpose of the building regulations. However, this principle may be called into question now that the HHSRS system is in force since, in many cases, the Building Regulation Requirement is the applicable ideal for the purposes of the rating system and upgrading could be required.
  6. Again, where a material change of use occurs involving the whole of the building then the Requirements have to be complied with in relation to the whole of the building subject to certain exceptions. Where the material use only involves part of a building, work must be carried out as necessary to ensure that the part in question complies with these applicable requirements. Where a new dwelling is provided these include resistance to weather and ground moisture. If a new flat is provided then there must also be compliance with the Requirement relating to resistance to the passage of sound.
  7. The various Requirements are listed out in Schedule 1 to the Regulations and are as follows:-

Building Regulations Requirements

Requirement Limits on application
PART A STRUCTURE

Loading
A1. –
(1) The building shall be constructed so that the combined dead, imposed and wind loads are sustained and transmitted by it to the ground -
(a) safely; and
(b) without causing such deflection or deformation of any part of the building, or such movement of the ground, as will impair the stability of any part of another building

(2) In assessing whether a building complies with sub-paragraph (1) regard shall be had to the imposed and wind loads to which it is likely to be subjected in the ordinary course of its use for the purpose for which it is intended.

Ground movement

The building shall be constructed so that ground movement caused by –

  1. swelling, shrinkage or freezing of the subsoil; or
  2. land-slip or subsidence (other than subsidence arising from shrinkage), in so far as the risk can be reasonably foreseen,

will not impair the stability of any part of the building.

 

Disproportionate collapse
A3. The building shall be constructed so that in the event of an accident the building will not suffer collapse to an extent disproportionate to the cause.

Requirement A3 applies only to a building having five or more storeys (each basement level being counted as one storey) excluding a storey within the roof space where the slope of the roof does not exceed 70º to the horizontal

PART B FIRE SAFETY

Means of warning and escape
B1. The building shall be designed and constructed so that there are appropriate provisions for the early warning of fire, and appropriate means of escape in case of fire from the building to a place of safety outside the building capable of being safely and effectively used at all material times.

Requirement B1 does not apply to any prison provided under section 33 of the Prisons Act 1952[9] (power to provide prisons etc).

Internal fire spread (linings)
B2.-
(1) To inhibit the spread of fire within the building the internal linings shall - (a) adequately resist the spread of flame over their surfaces; and (b) have, if ignited, a rate of heat release which is reasonable in the circumstances

(2) In this paragraph “internal linings” mean the materials lining and partition, wall, ceiling or other internal structure.

 

Internal fire spread (structure)
B3.
(1) The building shall be designed and constructed so that, in the event of fire, its stability will be maintained for a reasonable period. (2) A wall common to two or more buildings shall be designed and constructed so that it adequately resists the spread of fire between those buildings. For the purposes of this sub-paragraph a house in a terrace and a semi detached house are each to be treated as a separate building.

 

(3) To inhibit the spread of fire within the building, it shall be sub-divided with fire-resisting construction to an extent appropriate to the size and intended use of the building

Requirement B3(3) does not apply to material alterations to any prison provided under section 33 of the Prisons Act 1952.

(4) The building shall be designed and constructed so that the unseen spread of fire and smoke within concealed spaces in its structure and fabric is inhibited.

 

External fire spread B4.
(1) The external walls of the building shall adequately resist the spread of fire over the walls and from one building to another, having regard to the height, use and position of the building.
(2) The roof of the building shall adequately resist the spread of fire over the roof and from one building to another, having regard to the use and position of the building.

 

Access and facilities for the fire service B5.
(1) The building shall be designed and constructed so as to provide reasonable facilities to assist fire fighters in the protection of life.
(2) Reasonable provision shall be made within the site of the building to enable fire appliances to gain access to the building.

 
PART C SITE PREPARATION AND RESISTANCE TO MOISTURE

Preparation of site
C1. The ground to be covered by the building shall be reasonably free from vegetable matter.

 

Dangerous and offensive substances
C2. Reasonable precautions shall be taken to avoid danger to health and safety caused by substances found on or in the ground to be covered by the building.

Subsoil drainage
C3. Adequate sub-soil drainage shall be provided if it is needed to avoid –

  1. the passage of the ground moisture to the interior of the building;
  2. damage to the fabric of the building.
 

Resistance to weather and ground moisture
C4. The walls, floors and roof of the building shall adequately resist the passage of moisture to the inside of the building.

 
PART D TOXIC SUBSTANCES

Cavity insulation
D1. If insulating material is inserted into a cavity in a cavity wall reasonable precautions shall be taken to prevent the subsequent permeation of any toxic fumes from that material into any part of the building occupied by people.

 
PART E RESISTANCE TO THE PASSAGE OF SOUND

Airborne sound (walls)
E1. A wall which –

  1. separates a dwelling from another building or from another dwelling, or
  2. separates a habitable room or kitchen within a dwelling from another part of the same building which is not used exclusively as part of the dwelling,

shall have reasonable resistance to the transmission of airborne sound.

 

Airborne sound (floors and stairs)
E2. A floor or a stair which separates a dwelling from another dwelling, or from another part of the same building which is not used exclusively as part of the dwelling, shall have reasonable resistance to the transmission of airborne sound.

 

Impact sound (floors and stairs)
E3. A floor or a stair above a dwelling which separates it from another dwelling, or from another part of the same building which is not used exclusively as part of the dwelling, shall have reasonable resistance to the transmission of impact sound.

 
PART F VENTILATION

Means of ventilation
F1. There shall be adequate means of ventilation provided for people in the building.

Requirement F1 does not apply to a building or space within a building –

  1. into which people do not normally go; or
  2. which is used solely for storage; or
  3. which is a garage used solely in connection with a single dwelling.

Condensation in roofs
F2. Adequate provision shall be made to prevent excessive condensation –

  1. in a roof; or
  2. in a roof void above an insulated ceiling.
 
PART G HYGIENE

Sanitary conveniences and washing facilities
G1.
(1) Adequate sanitary conveniences shall be provided in rooms provided for that purpose, or in bathrooms. Any such room or bathroom shall be separated from places where food is prepared.
(2) Adequate washbasins shall be provided in –
(a) rooms containing water closets;
or
(b) rooms or spaces adjacent to rooms containing water closets.

Any such room or space shall be separated from places where food is prepared.

(3) There shall be a suitable installation for the provision of hot and cold water to washbasins provided in accordance with paragraph (2)

(4) Sanitary conveniences and washbasins to which this paragraph applies shall be designed and installed so as to allow effective cleaning

 

Bathrooms
G2. a bathroom shall be provided containing either a fixed bath or shower bath, and there shall be a suitable installation for the provision of hot and cold water to the bath or shower bath.

Requirement G2 applies only to dwellings.

Hot water storage
G3. A hot water storage system that has hot water storage vessel which does not incorporate a vent pipe to the atmosphere shall be installed by a person competent to do so, and there shall be precautions –

  1. to prevent the temperature of stored water at any time exceeding 100ºC; and
  2. to ensure that the hot water discharged from safety devices is safely conveyed to where it is visible but will not cause danger to persons in or about the building.

Requirement G3 does not apply to:-

  1. hot water storage system that has a storage vessel with a capacity of 15 litres or less;
  2. a system providing space heating only;
  3. a system which heats or stores water for the purposes only of an industrial process
PART H DRAINAGE AND WASTE DISPOSAL

Foul water drainage
H1.

  1. Any system which carries foul water from appliances within the building to a sewer, a cesspool or a septic or settlement tank, shall be adequate.
  2. Foul water in sub-paragraph (1) means waste water which comprises or includes –
  3. waste from a sanitary convenience or other soil appliance;
  4. water which has been used for cooking or washing.
 

Cesspools, septic tanks and settlement tanks
H2. Any cesspool, septic tank or settlement tank shall be –

  1. of adequate capacity and so constructed that it is impermeable to liquids;
  2. adequately ventilated; and
  3. so sited and constructed that –
  4. it is not prejudicial to the health of any person,
  5. it will not contaminate any underground water or water supply, and
  6. there are adequate means of access for emptying.
 

Rainwater drainage
H3. Any system which carries rainwater from the roof of the building to a sewer, soakaway, watercourse, or some other suitable rainwater outfall shall be adequate.

 

Solid waste storage
H4.
(1) Adequate means of storing solid waste shall be provided.
(2) Adequate means of access shall be provided –
(a) for people in the building to the place of storage; and
(b) from the place of storage to a street

 
PART J HEAT PRODUCING APPLIANCES

Air supply
J1. Heat producing appliances shall be so installed that there is an adequate supply or air to them for combustion and for the efficient working of any flue-pipe or chimney

The requirements in this Part apply only to fixed heat producing appliances which –
(a) are designed to burn solid fuel, oil or gas; or
(b) are incinerators.

Discharge of products of combustion
J2. Heat producing appliances shall have adequate provision for the discharge of the products of combustion to the outside air.

 

Protection of building
J3. Heat producing appliances and flue-pipes shall be so installed, and fire places and chimneys shall be so constructed, as to reduce to a reasonable level the risk of the building catching fire in consequence of their use.

 
PART K PROTECTION FROM FALLING, COLLISION AND IMPACT

Stairs, ladders and ramps
K1. Stairs, ladders and ramps shall be so designed, constructed and installed as to be safe for people moving between different levels in or about the building.

Requirement K1 applies only to stairs, ladders and ramps which form part of the building.

Protection from falling
K2. –

The following shall be provided with barriers where it is necessary to protect people in or about the building from falling -
(a) Any stairs, ramps, floors and balconies and any roof to which people have access, and
(b) Any light well, basement area or similar sunken area connected to a building,

Requirement K2(a) applies only to stairs and ramps which form part of the building

Vehicle barriers and loading bays
K3. –
(1) Vehicle ramps and any levels in a building to which vehicles have access, shall be provided with barriers where it is necessary to protect people in or about the building.
(2) Vehicle loading bays shall be constructed in such a way, or be provided with such features, as may be necessary to protect people in them from collision with vehicles

K4-Glazing with which people are likely to come into contact while people are moving in or about the building shall –

  1. (a) if broken on impact break in a way which is unlikely to cause injury; or
  2. (b) resist impact without breaking;or
  3. (c) be shielded or protected from impact
 

Protection against impact with glazing

Protection from collision with open windows etc
K5.1. [Provision shall be made to prevent people moving in or about the building from colliding with open windows, skylights or ventilators.

Manifestation of glazing
K5.2 Transparent glazing with which people are likely to come into contact while moving in and about the building, shall incorporate features which make it apparent.

Safe opening and closing of windows
K5.3 Windows, skylights and ventilators which can be opened by people in or about the building shall be so constructed or equipped that they may be opened, closed or adjusted safely.

K5.4 Safe access for cleaning

Requirement K5.1 does not apply to dwellings.

Requirement K5.2 does not apply to dwellings

Requirement K5.3 does not apply to dwellings

Protection against impact from and trapping doors by
K6. –
(1) Provision shall be made to prevent any door or gate -
(a) which slides or opens upwards, from falling onto any person; and
(b) which is powered, from trapping any person.

(2) Provision shall be made for powered doors and gates to be opened in the event of a power failure.
(3) Provision shall be made to ensure a clear view of the space on either side of a swing door or gate.

Requirement K6 does not apply to –

(a) dwellings, or
(b) any door or gate which is part of a lift.

PART L CONSERVATION OF FUEL AND POWER

L1. Reasonable provision shall be made for the conservation of fuel and power in buildings by: -
(a) limiting the heat loss through the fabric of the building;
(b) controlling the operation of the space heating and hot water systems;
(c) limiting the heat loss from hot water vessels and hot water service pipework;
(d) limiting the heat loss from hot water pipes and hot aid ducts used for space heating,

Requirements L1(a), (b) and (c) and (d) apply only to –
(a) dwellings;
(b) other buildings whose floor area exceeds 30m².

(e) installing in buildings artificial lighting to systems which are designed and constructed to use no more fuel and power than is reasonable in the circumstances and making reasonable provision for controlling such systems.

Requirement L1(e) applies only within buildings where more than 100m² of floor area is to be provided with artificial lighting and does not apply within dwellings.

PART M ACCESS AND FACILITIES FOR DISABLED PEOPLE

Interpretation
M1. In this Part “disabled people” means people who have –
(a) an impairment which limits their ability to walk or which requires them to use a wheelchair for mobility, or
(b) impaired hearing or sight.

The requirements of this Part do not apply to –
(a) a material alteration;
(b) an extension to a dwelling, or any other extension which does not include a ground storey;
(c) any part of a building which is used solely to enable the building or any service or fitting in the building to be inspected, repaired or maintained.

Access and use
M2. Reasonable provision shall be made for disabled people to gain access to and to use the building.

 

Sanitary conveniences
M3.-
(1) Reasonable provision shall be made for in the entrance storey of a dwelling for sanitary conveniences, or where the entrance storey contains no habitable rooms, reasonable provision for sanitary conveniences shall be made in either the entrance storey or principal storey.
(2) In this paragraph “entrance storey” means the storey which contains the principal entrance to the dwelling, and “principal storey” means the storey nearest to the entrance storey which contains a habitable room, or if there are two such storeys equally near, either such storey.
(3) If sanitary conveniences are provided in any building which is not a dwelling, reasonable provision shall be made for disabled people

 

Audience or spectator seating
M4. If the building contains audience or spectator seating, reasonable provision shall be made to accommodate disabled people.

Requirement M4 does not apply to dwellings.

PART N GLAZING – SAFETY IN RELATION TO IMPACT, OPENING AND CLEANING

NB: From 1st April 2013 Approved Document N only applies in Wales. Glazing safety in England is now dealt with in Approved document K

Protection against impact
N1. Glazing, with which people are likely to come into contact whilst moving in or about the building shall –
(a) if broken on impact, break in a way which is unlikely to cause injury; or
(b) resist impact without breaking; or
(c) be shielded or protected from impact.

 

Manifestation of glazing
N2. Transparent glazing, with which people are likely to come into contact while moving in or about the building, shall incorporate features which make it apparent.

Requirement N2 does not apply to dwellings.

Safe opening and closing of windows etc.
N3. Windows, skylights and ventilators which can be opened by people in or about the building shall be so constructed or equipped that they may be opened, closed or adjusted safely.

Requirement N3 does not apply to dwellings.

Safe access for cleaning windows etc
N4. Provision shall be made for any windows, skylights, or any transparent or translucent walls, ceilings or roofs to be safely accessible for cleaning.

Requirement N4 does not apply to –
(a) dwellings; or
(b) any transparent or translucent elements whose surface are not intended to be cleaned.

Part P

Electrical Work in Dwellings – see separate Guidance Click here

Approved Documents

  1. Each Requirement is supported by an Approved Document issued by Communities and Local Government. This provides practical guidance to comply with the Requirements. For a link to Approved Documents click here. It is recognised, however, that there may be alternative ways of achieving compliance with the requirement. Thus, there is no obligation to adopt a particular solution contained in an Approved Document if it is possible to meet the relevant requirement in some other way. Building work must also comply with the Requirements. Thus, it is compliance with the requirement which is the legal obligation; not compliance with the Approved Document. Primarily these requirements are directed at health and safety. In particular the requirements of Parts A to D, F to K, N and P (except for paragraphs H2 and J6) in Schedule 1 do not require anything to be done except for the purposes of securing reasonable standards of health and safety for persons in or about the building (and any others who may be affected by the building or matters connected with the building). Paragraphs H2 and J6 are excluded from this provision and can go beyond health and safety issues because they deal directly with the prevention of contamination of water. Part E (dealing with resistance to the passage of sound) and Part M (dealing with access/use) also extend beyond health and safety issues because they address the welfare and convenience of the building users, which is another purpose for which building regulations may be made. Likewise, with Part L because it deals with conservation of fuel and power.

Workmanship

  1. Any building work which is subject to the requirements of the Regulations must be carried out with proper materials and in a workmanlike manner. Compliance can be demonstrated in a number of ways. This includes the appropriate use of a product bearing a CE marking or a product complying with the appropriate technical specification or a British Standard.

Relaxation

  1. There is a power to dispense with or relax any requirements. There is a right of appeal to the Communities and Local Government (CLG) against a decision by a local authority which refuses to grant a relaxation or dispensation.

Building Regulation approval

  1. Building regulations are administered by the local authority or alternatively at the option of the building owner by an approved inspector.
  2. There are two options available. The first is to deposit full plans or the second is to submit a building notice. Fees are payable. If full plans are submitted then it is the duty of the local authority to pass the plans unless they are defective or show the proposed works would contravene the requirements of the regulations (or some other provision of the Building Act). The plans which do not comply may be rejected or may be passed with conditions requiring such modifications as may be specified or that further plans as specified are to be deposited. Written consent is required before a condition can be imposed. Approval or rejection must take place within 5 weeks or within an extended period of up to two months agreed with the applicant. Any notice or refusal must specify the reason for the refusal and any conditions must also be specified in a notice of approval. There is a right of appeal against refusal to the CLG.
  3. The alternative procedure is the giving of a building notice. However, this cannot be used if a building is subject to the Fire Safety Order. Under this alternative procedure the plans are not scrutinised. Its use is limited in practice because there is no protection under this procedure unlike the full plans procedure where, so long as the work is carried out in compliance with the approved plans, the requirements of the regulations are treated as met. The same fee is payable.

Notices

  1. The person carrying out the building works must not commence the work unless notice of intention to commence the work has been given to the local authority. Two days must have elapsed since the end of the day on which notice is given. Likewise, the person carrying out the building work must not cover up any foundations or cover a drain or sewer unless notice is given and at least one day must elapse since the end of the day on which notice is given. Once a drain or sewer has been laid or covered notice of completion must be given within 5 days after the completion of the work. Once completion of the building work has taken place notice must be given within 5 days. Where a building is being erected and any part of the building is to be occupied before completion at least 5 days notice must be given before it is actually occupied. In the event of failure to comply with the notice requirements the work has to be opened up for inspection if the local authority so require.

Energy Rating

  1. Where a new dwelling (including a flat) is created then the energy rating of the dwelling must be calculated in accordance with the approved procedure and notice given of the rating to the local authority. This must be done at least 5 days before the dwelling is occupied in the case of a new build. Otherwise, it must be done no later than 5 days after completion. A notice must be displayed in a conspicuous place in the dwelling showing this rating. This does not apply in the case where the person carrying out the work occupies the dwelling as his own residence.

Completion Certificates

  1. On request, a completion certificate is to be provided by the local authority once the work is done. A retrospective application can be made.

Competent person schemes

  1. Competent persons scheme allow work which would otherwise require approval under the Building Regulations to be carried out without first obtaining approval from the Local Authority or an improved Building Inspector. Examples include electrical work covered by Part P. Provided the work is undertaken by a contractor who is a member of a competent person scheme then if the work is within the scope of the scheme the contractor will certify the work and it will be notified to the local authority. A certificate will be issued to confirm that this has been done.

Enforcement

  1. Responsibility for enforcement of building control lies with the local authority. Section 35 of the 1984 Act states that anyone who contravenes or fails to comply with any provision contained in the building regulations should liable for a fine not exceeding Level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000.00) and to a further daily fine if default continues after conviction. The wording of this section indicates that a defendant can be fined for every single breach of the regulations. Breach of regulations will include failure to give notice when required.
  2. There is power for a local authority to serve a notice requiring the owner of a building to either pull down or remove the offending work or alternatively if the owner so elects to carry out such alterations as may be necessary to make the premises comply with the building regulations. When serving such a notice the local authority must specify the extent to which the work can contravene the regulations and quote the relevant regulation. The person on whom notice is to be served must comply before the expiration of 28 days or such longer period as the Magistrates Court may allow. However, notice cannot be served where more than 24 months have elapsed from the date of completion of the works in question. What is meant by “completion of the work in question” is not always clear. Case law indicates that an offence against the building regulations can be complete even though the works as a whole are not finished. If plans are passed or notice of rejection is not given in any relevant period allowed then so long as the offending work is in accordance with the plans submitted, no offence is committed.
  3. If the work has been completed for more than 24 months the only option open to the local authority would be to apply for an injunction. The Act only allows service of the notice on the owner; not the occupier, such as the tenant. Notices requiring removal or alteration of offending work is served under Section 36 of the 1984 Act. In such circumstances Section 37 of the Act enables a person served with a Section 36 Notice to inform the local authority in writing that he intends to obtain an independent report from a suitably qualified person with regards to that contravention. The local authority must be informed of the intention within 28 days after service or such longer period as the Magistrates Court may allow. If this occurs then the local authority’s power to act to carry out the work itself in default will not arise until 70 days have elapsed or the period allowed by the Court. A local authority can withdraw the notice in the light of an independent report and if it does so there is discretion to pay the owner’s reasonable expenses including the obtaining of the report but does not have to do so.

Appeals

  1. There is a right of appeal against the Notice. This appeal must be made within 28 days after service or within 70 days if the independent report procedure is invoked. On an appeal there is power for the Court to join in the occupier (e.g. the tenant) to require them to comply with the notice. This seems to be the only avenue open to the landlord who is served with notice because the tenant has contravened building regulations e.g. unauthorised electrical installations which are in contravention of Part P of the Regulations – see below.

Rights of Entry

  1. The local authority has the right to enter any premises at all times to establish whether there has been a contravention of the Building Act 1984 of the building regulations. If entry is refused the local authority can apply to the Magistrates for a warrant to enter. It is an offence to obstruct a local authority acting in its execution of regulations.