What are Building Regulations?

What are Building Regulations?

Building regulations are minimum standards that apply to almost all new building work, including alterations to existing houses.

They are a control on the quality of new building work and alterations and provide approved standards for health and hygiene, safety, welfare, convenience, energy-efficiency and sustainability.

Building regulations cover all aspects of construction, including:

  • foundations and underpinning,
  • the overall stability of the building,
  • damp-proofing,
  • insulation,
  • ventilation,
  • heating,
  • fire protection and means of escape in case of fire.

All domestic extensions and conversions will require building regulations approval.

Repairs are not generally covered by the regulations, provided that they are of a minor nature or replacing like for like. This includes replacing small areas of brickwork, re-pointing, plastering, rendering and replacing less than half of a roof.

However, building regulations will apply if the repairs involve any of the following:

  • structural alterations that include removing some or all of a load-bearing element;
  • electrical rewiring;
  • drainage alterations
  • extending or altering a controlled service, such as, a heating system
  • replacement windows
  • work to any combustion appliances (such as heating)
  • substantial removal of roof covering (more than 50 per cent) or wall finishes (more than 50 per cent of the plaster finish)


In addition, you are likely to need the services of a structural engineer to provide the calculations for foundations, roof design and any structural alterations. We will advise accordingly.

There are two options when submitting an application for building works – a Full Plans application or a Building Notice application. Both of these types of application need to be submitted before you start work, and the total fee for each is usually broadly the same, payable to the local authority or an approved inspector.

The Building Notice procedure is intended for minor works. We generally advocate the Full Plans route as the application is checked in detail and a formal decision notice issued, so you can undertake building work with the confidence that it complies with the regulation

You can legally start two working days after submitting a building regulations application following written submission of your intention to start works. If you have made a Full Plans submission, bear in mind that the local authority will not yet have had opportunity to review the drawings and advise on any issues that arise. You can usually expect a response within two weeks of confirmation of receipt of all of the information

The approval procedure and payment to the inspector is in two parts.

  • The Plan Stage allows for the inspector to undertake a desk top analysis of the submitted information and advise on any alteration or additional information required.
  • The Inspection Stage is a series of site inspections during the works on site to ensure that the agreed information is complied with.

At the completion of the works the development is signed off and a certificate of compliance issued