Checking out building renovation regulations and planning requirements are essential if you’re planning to renovate or do some serious building work to your home.
The building survey for our house is about an inch thick and a number of the problems we have had to sort out are subject to Building Regulations. As with most things, some of the rules can be frustrating, however we have come to realise that the Building Regulations are there to protect us and from personal experience we actually found the people at Building Control in our local office to be really supportive. They have been happy to work with us to establish solutions and we have even had some really good advice from them.
Building Regulations – planning and building
Major building work requires careful planning. You may wish to enlist the services of a building surveyor, building technician or architect, all of whom should be aware of current Building Regulations, required inspections and how they apply to the work you’re undertaking. These Building Regulations are updated annually and mean that any builder must conform to certain standards of construction and workmanship.
Planning Regulations determine what you can build. Building Regulations control how you must build it. Granting of planning permission doesn’t mean you’ve received building control approval and vice versa.
Both of these departments are based at your local council. They’re usually helpful, informative and reasonable. They’re there for your protection and that of your neighbours.
The objective of Building Control is to protect us by ensuring that buildings are safe and healthy places for people to be in. The Building Regulations apply only in connection with a building; freestanding garden walls, fences, paths or drives that aren’t covered.
The Building Control department is also responsible for checking that any building work is energy-efficient. Comprehensive Building Regulations are laid down concerning materials and methods of construction, assessment of plans and mandatory site inspections confirm that the building work you undertake conforms to current requirements.
Building Regulations – how do I get planning permission?
If you decide that the work you’re considering falls under the remit of Building Regulations, there are two methods of applying for approval.
a) full plans
The amount of detail depends on the size of the project. A formal notice of approval or rejection is issued within a legally set period of five weeks. The work is then inspected periodically as it progresses; there’s a legal requirement in the Building Regulations for certain stages of the work to meet approval before you may proceed.
The approved plans give you a degree of protection provided the work is carried out in accordance with those plans. The inspectors are generally able to offer advice and help throughout the construction phase.
Major work will require the submission of fully detailed plans, specifications, calculations and other supporting details to enable the building control surveyor to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations.
b) building notice
This is generally less often used and relates to smaller projects. A full plan is not required. It’s used where only a very small amount of work you’re contemplating falls within the scope of the Building Control Office.
Building Regulations: Planning Permission
The planning system is designed to protect the environment in the public interest, not one person’s interests over another. If you build something that needs planning permission without obtaining permission first, you may be forced to put things right later, which is not only troublesome but also potentially costly. In extreme circumstances you could be required to remove unauthorised building works.
When do I need planning permission?
Under the Building Regulations, certain changes can be made to your home without planning permission. These rights are called ‘permitted development rights’. Specific advice on your situation should be sought from your building surveyor, technician or architect.
General repairs, replacing like with like without altering position, size, construction or materials used, are exempt. If in doubt about whether Building Regulations apply to the work you’re contemplating, check with your local building control office.
Are you considering renovating an older property? If so make sure that you are aware of the possible Building Regulations restrictions that may apply…
Building Regulations: Listed Buildings
The list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest includes castles, cathedrals, private houses, milestones and drinking fountains.
There are around 370,000 list entries currently protected by listing, over 92% being Grade II.NB Grade I and II* buildings may be eligible for English Heritage grants for urgent major repairs.
Your local library will hold a copy of the list. A listing will identify the building or structure and some of its special features.
If a building is on the list, any building work will require ‘listed building consent’, according to the Planning Act 1990. This is obtained through the local planning authority. Even minor works, such as painting or simple repair work in some circumstances, fall under the scope of this act.
The penalty for ignoring this act is up to a 12-month prison sentence or a fine to an unlimited amount, or both. Then you can be expected to carry out, at your own expense, further works to the listed building to remedy the impact of the unauthorised works.
Building Regulations: Conservation Areas
An area considered to be of architectural or historical interest can be designated a conservation area by the local council. In practice, this means additional restrictions beyond the normal planning laws. Planning permission will be required in the following instances:
- to insert dormers or alter the roof of a house or to install a satellite dish on any wall or roof facing a highway or on any wall or chimney over 15m (50ft) tall
- to clad any part of the exterior of a house with stone, artificial stone, timber, plastic or tiles
- to extend a house by more than 50 cubic metres (including previous additions erected since 1948 or since the house was built) or ten per cent of the total volume of the original house subject to a maximum of 115 cubic metres
- alteration or improvement of a building with a cubic content greater than 10 cubic metres within the curtilage of the dwelling house
- total or substantial demolition of a listed building that has a volume in excess of 115 cubic metres, including some freestanding walls
- to demolish or remove any wall, gate, fence or other means of enclosure if it’s greater than 1m (3.3ft) high where abutting a highway, or 2m (6.6ft) high in any other case.It’s also worth remembering that trees are under special protection in conservation areas. If you’re proposing any work on a tree, you’re required to inform your local council six weeks before you intend to start work, to obtain approval.
Building Regulations: Party Wall Act 1996
A party wall forms part of a building and stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners. It separates buildings and it either stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners or stands wholly on one person’s land, but is used by two (or more) owners to separate their buildings. This relates to situations where one owner built the wall first and his neighbour has butted his building up to it without constructing his own wall.
The Building Regulations act applies to all work to be carried out on an existing party wall, building astride the boundary line between two properties and excavations within 3m or 6m (9.8ft or 20ft) of a neighbouring building depending on the depth of hole or foundation. The act was intended to generate communication and agreement between neighbours on proposed work that had a common wall.
If you need advice on Renovation Regulations or any of the above give your local Building Control department a call and they can help you to understand what effects you and what you need to do!