What are building regulations?

What are building regulations?

Building Control approval and planning permission

Building Control approval is the procedure for getting building work approved in terms of the Building Regulations (BR). For more information, see our 'Building regulations' section. Building Control approval is a separate matter from obtaining planning permission for your work. Similarly, receiving any planning permission which your work may require is not the same as taking action to ensure that it complies with the BR (BR)

It is generally realised that a form of permission is required for building work or alterations of properties. However, it may not always be clear how the Planning and Building Control approval regimes differ.

For many types of building work, separate permission under both regimes (separate processes) will be required. For other building work, such as internal alterations, Buildings Control approval will probably be needed, but planning permission may not be. If you are in any doubt you should contact:

  • In England & Wales, your Local Planning Authority or a Building Control Body
  • In Northern Ireland, the Planning Service department or the Building Control department within your local council

Do I need Building Control approval?

If you are planning to carry out 'Building Work' as defined in Regulation 3 of the BR or Regulation A2 of the BR (Northern Ireland) 2000 (as amended), then it must comply with the BR. This normally means seeking approval of the work from a Building Control Body or your local council in Northern Ireland.

The following types of project amount to 'Building Work':

  • The erection or extension of a building
  • An alteration project involving work which will temporarily or permanently affect the ongoing compliance of the building, service or fitting with the requirements relating to structure, fire or access to and use of buildings
  • When installing replacement windows, using a builder or window company not FENSA registered (England and Wales only)
  • The installation or extension of a service or fitting which is controlled under the BR
  • The insertion of insulation into a cavity wall
  • The underpinning of the foundations of a building
  • When you want to change the building's fundamental use

For a helpful guide to work out whether the BR apply to your building work, see the Department for Communities and Local Government's 'Building work, replacements and repairs to your home' (note that this guide is now only available on an archived version of their website) or in Northern Ireland visit the Building Control website.

For more information see our 'Complying with building regulations' and 'Approval for building works' sections.

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