Building Regulations: A Quick Guide
Building regulations can be a real maze for most people. There are reasons for them, protecting the health and safety of you and the people around you being a primary one, but they can cause serious headaches.
They’re also not to be confused with planning permission. These are two separate pieces of legislation and many projects will require both, or one or the other.
The general rule of thumb is that you’re subject to building regulations if you’re building, extending or making structural alterations.
Sheds, greenhouses, conservatories and porches are generally exempt but it’s well worth checking with the local authorities.
What do building regulations cover?
- Structure. The strength and stability of buildings – making sure it won’t blow over.
- Fire Safety. Means of escape, internal and external fire spread and access for firemen. Ensuring you don’t find yourself locked inside a burning house.
- Site preparation and resistance to water. Includes looking into ground contaminants and pollution that might damage the building, and protecting the building and its inhabitants from moisture.
- Toxic substances. This section aims to prevent toxic fumes from cavity wall insulation affecting the occupants.
- Resistance to the passage of sound. Pretty much what it says on the tin – this regulation tries to prevent neighbours waking each other up too much.
- Ventilation. It’s generally useful to be able to breath clean air, so that’s what this section stipulates for. It also deals with humidity in an effort to prevent mould.
- Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency. Making sure you’re able to safely keep clean.
- Drainage and waste disposal. Dealing with drainage, cesspools and tanks, sewage and refuse stores. All the glamorous bits.
- Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems. You don’t want your house exploding.
- Protection from falling, collision and impact. Covering stairs, ramps and guardrails to prevent falling, as well as preventing collision with open windows, skylights, ventilators and impacts from doors.
- Conservation of fuel and power. Making sure you’re good and green.
- Access to and use of buildings. So everyone can get in and out comfortably.
- Glazing. Safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning.
- Electrical Safety. For low (<600) voltage installations in houses, flats and dwellings.
How do I comply?
Route 1: Submit full detailed plans to your local planning department. Building control surveyors will look them over and make sure everything’s in order. If it is, you’ll get a notice of approval.
Your builder will also have to regularly update the council on how the work is going, and you’ll be subject to inspections to ensure everything is up to scratch. A final inspection will be made at the end and, as long as everything meets regulations, you’ll get a certificate of compliance.
Route 2: This is more suited to structural alterations or small additions to residential property. In this case, you need to complete a building notice form outlining your proposal, and provide a scale block plan. It won’t take long to gain approval – usually a day or two.
Again, the builder will have to keep the council in the loop during construction and inspections will be carried out.
This blog is only intended as an introduction. Obviously you won’t want to navigate this kind of thing on your own, so your builder or architect should be able to advise where necessary.
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