Building regulations are required for most types of building works and improvements in the UK. Building regulations for England and Wales is covered by the Building Act, 1984 and for Scotland is covered by the Building (Scotland) Act 2003. Legislation and laws pertaining to building regulations is constantly being reviewed, revised, updated and improved to reflect building best practices and keep up to date with any relevant occurrences in the UK.
The most recent law covering building regulations and its updating was in 2010. These regulations have a number of sections and subsections that cover all aspects of building and construction. Sections A – P cover everything from energy efficiency and air tightness testing requirements to electrical and drainage considerations.
They also have a degree of health and safety legislation that covers all of sections A – R (known as Approved Documents) and makes sure that all work carried out both related and not related to these Approved Documents is carried out safely for all involved.
Unlike Planning Permission, building regulations are almost never enforced or implemented retrospectively. This means that if a property or building project adheres to current regulations and standards, even if anything changes, the owner of the property will not be served with a potentially costly enforcement notice.
Building Regulations Approved Documents
Building regulation legislation and law is broken up into sections [Approved Documents] A – P, each covering a specific aspect of building law and practices. Sections, as well as overall building best-practices and laws are updated on a regular basis.
Part A: Structural – This section covers all to do with the actual structural and supporting features of buildings and projects. This covers aspects such as foundations, wall components and the roof.
Part B: Fire Safety – There is an element of crossover between this section and the health and safety element of building regulations. This section provides guidance on preventing and containing any fires to negate all risks and provide safe routes of escape should a fire break out.
Parts C & D: Site Preparation and Toxic Substances – These sections cover all relating to preventing dampness and leakages in the property in question as well as ensuring there is no leakage of toxic substances into the building(s) in question.
Part E: Passage of Sound – Part E is the Approved Document that outlines why, where and when sound insulation testing is required on buildings and projects. This measures sound ‘transference’ between qualifying properties and rooms.
Part F: Ventilation – Covering ventilation testing and commissioning, this section is necessary to ensure that properties are sufficiently ventilated, preventing any build-ups of condensation and other related detrimental factors for properties.
Parts G & H: Hygiene and Waste – These sections cover sanitation and washing facilities in buildings and also deal with drainage, sewage removal and solid waste storage of properties.
Parts J & K: Combustion, Fuel Storage, Collisions and Impact – Relating to fire safety and potential ‘falling hazards,’ these sections cover safety aspects involved in the installation of appliances utilising any form of ‘fuel’ such as gas, oil or similar. Part K also covers safety relating to staircases, balconies and raised areas.
Part L: Fuel and Power – Importantly covering energy efficiency across properties, Part L ensures minimum standards are met and covers hot water storage and ‘space heating’ criteria.
Parts M & N: Access and Glazing Safety – It is important that there is an acceptable level of access to all buildings and these requirements and standards are covered by Part M. Part N is not always relevant and sets out where and when safety glass is required.
Part P: Electrical Safety – This covers electrical work and installations in properties as well as any electrical works carried out in any associated gardens. Furthermore, all new electrical installations must adhere to the most recent update of Part P which is closely related to fire safety.
When do I need Building Regulation Approval?
Some builds and projects may not need building regulation approval. For example, if a property owner carries out small DIY jobs on their property such as fitting shelves, internal doors and other minor adjustments, no approval is necessary. However, most building work does meet the criteria to be covered by these regulations.
It is the builder’s responsibility to ensure strict adherence to regulations. However, ultimately the blame may end up at the feet of the property owner who has overall responsibility of their property. Therefore, should there be any degree of foul-play, the enforcement notice from local Building Control will be addressed and directed to the proprietor rather than the builder.
Conditions and Rules
All building work and the materials used must adhere to the minimum standards and Approved Documents as set out in building regulations. Moreover, any work carried out cannot make any aspect of the building less compliant than it previously was. For example, a property owner would not be permitted to change from energy efficient double glazing (that reduces dampness and condensation) to less efficient glazing solutions such as single glazing. This applies to all aspects and sections of the regulations.