Whether you are extending your home or building an entirely new property, you need to be aware of building control or building regulations. Some projects may not require planning permission, but every project will come under building control so knowing the dos and don’ts of it is an important part of planning your project.
What is building control?
Building control refers to the building regulations that apply to all projects. There are various standards that apply to the different parts of a project, some of which may not factor into what you are doing. But it pays to be aware of them all. Some of the most important ones include:
- Materials and workmanship – Regulation 7
- Structural safety – Part A
- Fire safety – Part B
- Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture – Part C
- Toxic substances – Part E
- Ventilation – Part F
- Sanitation, hot water and water efficiency – Part G
- Drainage and waste disposal – Part J
- Protection from falling – Part K
- Conservation of fuel and power – Part L
- Access to and use of buildings – Part M
- Electrical safety – Part P
- Security – Part Q
- Physical infrastructure for high-speed communication networks – Part R
What work has to comply?
Building control has an impact on every project that you undertake but not all parts will be relevant to everything. For example, if you are adding an oak frame extension from Trade Oak to your home, things like the physical infrastructure for high-speed communications networks (Part R) won’t be an issue because these should be in place for the original property. However, things like ventilation, fire safety and structural safety as well as materials and workmanship will be very relevant to the project.
If you are adding a detached single storey building that is less than 30 square metres or a building less than 15 square meters long, you often don’t need building regulations approval if there is no sleeping accommodation.
Similar sizes conservatories often don’t need approval either. And if you are doing repairs or renovations, as long as materials are like for like, you often don’t need to have building control involved.
However, if you are in doubt, it is always best to get in touch with them and let them know what you plan – they will tell you if any regulations apply.
Do’s and don’ts of building control
If you are looking for some ideas about what will and what won’t impact your project in terms of the building regulations department, here are a few things to consider.
Do set out a realistic plan for the project and have a project schedule in place. This helps you to see what needs to be done when and if building control needs to inspect at a certain stage, you can arrange this.
Do approach the planning department upfront and check out what you are doing to see if there are any stipulations they layout – or work with a builder or architect who can do this for you.
Do look at party wall agreements – these cover walls that join two properties and play a big part in what you can do with spaces that adjoin these. It also involves notifying your neighbours if you plan to build a new wall on the line of junction (the boundary) between the houses and getting written permission from them to do this.
Do consider off-site construction methods such as oak frame kits, structural insulated panels and timber frames for extensions as these can cut down on time involved and make the project simpler.
Don’t change your mind mid-project if you can help it – not only will it delay things and cost more but it could mean you have to reapply for permissions and have more checks done.
Don’t add too many bedrooms without the right number of bathrooms – a good general rule is one bathroom for every two bedrooms with an en-suite for every guest bedroom. Without this, the value of the property could be reduced later.
Don’t undertake a project without a clear plan and even work with an architect where possible to ensure things are done correctly.
Don’t assume existing facilities such as heating are adequate if you are making the house bigger
Building control does play a part in almost every project you do to your home, but it doesn’t need to make things difficult or restricted. It is just important to be armed with the information before you start to avoid issues down the line.