5.1 If your work amounts to ‘Building Work’ (see paragraphs 3.1 and 3.2) it will be subject to, and must comply with, the Building Regulations. To help you achieve compliance with the regulations, you are required to use one of two types of Building Control Service:

  • your local authority Building Control Service; or
  • an approved inspector’s Building Control Service.

5.2 As explained in paragraph 4.2(i), if your building work consists only of the installation of certain types of services or fittings (e.g. some types of drain, fuel burning appliances, replacement windows, WCs, and showers) and you employ an installer registered with a relevant scheme designated in the Building Regulations, you will not need to involve a Building Control Service. However, this concession is strictly limited to the specific type of installation described and does not cover any other type of building work.


5.3 You can contact your local authority Building Control Service through your district or borough council. Approved inspectors are private sector companies or practitioners and are approved for
the purpose of carrying out the Building Control Service as an alternative to your local authority. Approved inspectors can provide a service in connection with most sorts of building project involving new buildings or work to existing buildings, including extensions or alterations to homes. For insurance reasons most approved inspectors cannot currently deal with projects involving building new houses, or flats for sale or private renting. All
approved inspectors are registered with the Construction Industry Council (CIC) who can provide a list of members (see Annex B: ‘Sources of information’).


5.4 If you are employing a builder to do your work you should be clear from the outset whether they are taking responsibility for ensuring that the building work complies with the Building Regulations, and also whether they are taking responsibility for liaising with the Building Control Service you have decided to use (see also paragraph 2.10). In addition, you should bear in mind that your building work may require planning permission. You will need to check the position; and if you do require permission you will need to be clear whether you, your builder or designer are taking responsibility for obtaining it. Some types of building development may also be subject to other types of statutory requirements and consents (see paragraph 1.3).

 

 

YOUR LOCAL AUTHORITY BUILDING CONTROL SERVICE

5.5 Depending upon the scale and type of work involved you may have the option of following one of two different procedures available within this service:

  • the deposit of a full plans application; or
  • the giving of a building notice (except for certain types of building work – primarily in respect of fire safety issues where a building is used as a workplace or where it may affect a drain).

What are the differences between the full plans application procedure and the building notice procedure? What might influence my choice?

 

A full plans application:


5.6 An application deposited under this procedure needs to contain plans and other information showing all construction details, preferably well in advance of when work is to start on site. Your local authority will check your plans and consult any appropriate authorities (e.g. fire and sewerage). They must complete the procedure by issuing you with a decision within five weeks or, if you agree, a maximum of two months from the date of deposit.

 

5.7 If your plans comply with the Building Regulations you will receive a notice stating that they have been approved. If your local authority is not satisfied you may be asked to make amendments or provide more details. Alternatively, a conditional approval may be issued. This will either specify modifications which must be made to the plans; or will specify further plans which must be deposited with your authority. Your local authority may only apply conditions if you have either requested them to do so or have consented to them doing so. A request or consent must be made in writing. If your plans are rejected the reasons will be stated in the notice. A full plans approval notice is valid for three years from the date of deposit of the plans, after which the local authority may send you a notice to declare the approval of no effect if the building work has not commenced.

 

5.8 Your local authority will carry out inspections of the building work once it is in progress. They will explain about the notification procedures which the regulations require you to follow at various stages of the work – e.g. in connection with foundations, damp proof courses and drains. In addition, if you request one when you first make your application, the local authority will issue you with a completion certificate provided they are content that the completed work complies with the Building Regulations (see paragraph 5.22).


5.9 A further point to bear in mind is that, if a disagreement arises with your local authority, the ‘full plans’ procedure enables you to ask for a ‘determination’ from (in England) the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or (in Wales) the Welsh Assembly Government about whether your plans do or do not comply with the Building Regulations (see paragraph 5.19).

 

The Building Notice procedure:


5.10 This procedure does not involve the passing or rejecting of plans. It therefore avoids the preparation of detailed ‘full plans’, and is designed to enable some types of building work to get under way quickly; although it is perhaps best suited to small work. There are also specific exclusions in the regulations as to when building notices cannot be used. These are for building work which is subject to section 1 of the Fire Precautions Act 1971 or Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997; for work which will be built close to or over the top of rain water and foul drains shown on the ‘map of sewers’ (see paragraph 3.3); and where a new building will front onto a private street. If you decide to use this procedure you need to be confident that the work will comply with the Building Regulations or you will risk having to correct any work you carry out if your local authority requests this. In this respect you do not have the protection provided by the approval of ‘full plans’.


5.11 Once you have given your ‘building notice’ and informed your local authority that you are about to start work, the work will be inspected as it progresses.You will be advised by the authority if the work does not comply with the Building Regulations. If before the start of work, or while work is in progress, your local authority requires further information such as structural design calculations or plans, you must supply the details requested. A ‘building notice’ is valid for three years from the date the notice was given to the local authority, after which it will automatically lapse if the building work has not commenced.

 

5.12 A local authority is not required to issue a completion certificate under the ‘building notice’ procedure; and because no ‘full plans’ are produced it is not possible to ask for a determination if your local authority says your work does not comply with the Building Regulations (see paragraph 5.19).

 

Do I have to pay for the local authority service?


5.13 Yes – a charge is payable to your local authority and will be subject to VAT. Each authority is required to set its own individual charges according to the type of work involved and to publish them in a ‘scheme’ which they will be able to make available to you on request. The basis for setting the charges is contained in The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998, which require amongst other things that local authorities fix their charges with the aim of recovering the costs of carrying out their service. The regulations also exempt from charging for certain types of building work which are solely for the benefit of disabled people. Is there any difference in cost between a Full Plans application and a Building Notice procedure?


5.14 In general there should not be. This is because the Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998 require that the ‘plan charge’ for the full plans application procedure, plus the subsequent
‘inspection charge’ made under this procedure, should equal the ‘building notice charge’ (a charge which includes the cost of inspection).


5.15 The ‘plan charge’ and ‘building notice charge’ are payable when you deposit your full plans or give your notice respectively; and the ‘inspection charge’ is payable after the first inspection has taken place. Only one inspection charge is payable no matter how many may be necessary. Your local authority will be able to tell you the exact charges by referring to their scheme of charges.

 

When can I start work?

 

5.16 If you have deposited a ‘full plans’ application you will only receive the full benefit and protection from this procedure if you wait until you have received a notice of approval before starting your work. However, if you choose to there is nothing to stop you starting work once you have deposited your plans and given your local authority a commencement notice at least two clear days (not including the day on which you give notice and any Saturday, Sunday, Bank or public holiday) before you start.


5.17 If on the other hand you have chosen to use the ‘building notice’ procedure (see paragraphs 5.10 – 5.12), this procedure is specifically designed to enable you to start work once you have given the notice to your local authority followed by a commencement notice at least two clear days (not including the day on which you give notice and any Saturday, Sunday, Bank or public holiday) before you start.

 

What can I do if a disagreement arises with my local authority and/or my full plans are rejected?

 

5.18 If you are content to do so, the simplest way to proceed if your plans are rejected may be to re-submit your ‘full plans’ application with the local authority’s suggested amendments so that it can give you a notice of approval. You will then have the benefit and protection of having your full plans approved. You may not have to pay any additional charge for this. Alternatively, there is nothing to stop you starting work provided you give the necessary ‘commencement notice’ and ensure that your building work complies with the Building Regulations. But you should bear in mind that if it does not comply your local authority may take enforcement action (see paragraphs 6.3 and 6.4).


5.19 However, if you believe that the plans you submitted do comply with the Building Regulations and do not therefore want to amend them because you disagree with your local authority’s view, you can refer the matter (in England) to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or (in Wales) to the Welsh Assembly Government by asking for a determination as to whether or not your proposals comply with particular requirements in the regulations. You can ask for a determination before or after your local authority gives a formal decision on your plans but can only do so before the work has substantially started.


5.20 Alternatively, if you believe that a particular requirement of the Building Regulations is too onerous or inappropriate to the particular circumstances of the work, you can apply to your local authority to relax or dispense with it. If your authority refuses your application you could then appeal against this decision (in England) to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or (in Wales) to the Welsh Assembly Government within one month of the refusal.


5.21 The former DTLR in conjunction with the National Assembly for Wales published ‘A Guide to Determinations and Appeals’ (see Annex B: ‘Sources of information’) which sets out details of the procedures involved.

 

Can I get a completion certificate when the building work is finished?


5.22 Yes – provided the completed work complies with the Building Regulations. Where full plans are submitted for work which is also subject to section 1 of the Fire Precautions Act 1971 or Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 the Local Authority must, if satisfied, issue you with a completion certificate about compliance with the fire safety requirements of the Building Regulations when the work is finished. In other circumstances where full plans are submitted, you may ask to be given a completion certificate when the work is finished, but you must have made your request when you first submitted your plans. The local authority is not however required to issue a completion certificate when the building notice procedure has been used. A completion certificate is evidence (but not conclusive evidence) that the requirements specified in the certificate have been complied with.

 

AN APPROVED INSPECTOR’S BUILDING CONTROL SERVICE


5.23 When you use an approved inspector, they will take on responsibility for plan checking and inspection of your building work. The procedure requires you and the approved inspector jointly to notify your local authority of your intended building work on what is called an initial notice. Once this notice has been accepted by your local authority the responsibility for plan checking and site inspection will be formally placed on the approved inspector.


5.24 An approved inspector will:

  • advise you on how the Building Regulations apply to your work;
  • check your plans;
  • issue a plans certificate (if requested);
  • inspect the work as it progresses; and
  • issue a final certificate.

The approved inspector will tell you what plans and information they need in order to check that the proposed work will comply with the Building Regulations.


5.25 If you ask for one, the approved inspector will issue a plans certificate which will confirm that the plans of your proposed building work show compliance with the Building Regulations. When the work is complete the approved inspector must issue a final certificate to the local authority to say that the work referred to in the initial notice is complete, and that the inspector has carried out their inspection responsibilities. If the approved
inspector is not satisfied that the work complies, then they cannot give the final certificate. If you are not prepared to change the work the approved inspector will have to refer the matter to the local authority (see paragraphs 5.28 and 6.2).

 

Do I have to pay for the services of the approved inspector?


5.26 Yes – a fee will be payable which will be a matter for negotiation between you and the inspector. It will be subject to VAT.

 

What can I do if the approved inspector is not satisfied with my proposals or with my work in progress?

 

5.27 If the approved inspector is not satisfied with plans of your work, the options available to you will be:

  • to alter your plans according to the approved inspector’s advice;
  • to ask for a determination (in England) from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or (in Wales) from the Welsh Assembly Government of any disagreement on the plans arising between you and the approved inspector. (This is similar to the procedure which would be open to you if you were using the Building Control Service of your local authority and as explained in paragraph 5.19);
  • to apply to your local authority for a relaxation or a dispensation of a requirement of the Building Regulations and, in the event of a refusal by your authority, appeal (in England) to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minster or (in Wales) to the Welsh Assembly Government. (This is the same procedure as would be open to you if you were using the Building Control Service of your local authority and as explained in paragraph 5.20).

5.28 If the approved inspector is not satisfied with work in progress on site, and you cannot resolve the disagreement by discussion, the inspector will have to cancel the initial notice by a notice to the local authority. This will terminate the inspector’s building control responsibility for your project. In these circumstances the Building Control Service function is likely to have to revert to your local authority. Thereafter your authority may ask for plans and, if necessary, require the uncovering of work to enable them to reach a view on the compliance of your work so far, and on what changes are needed. They will charge you what is called a ‘reversion charge’ to cover the cost of their on-going Building Control Service.

 

When can I start work?

 

5.29 Subject to any arrangements you have agreed with your approved inspector, you may start work as soon as the initial notice is accepted by your local authority.Work cannot start if the initial notice is rejected. But if the notice has not been validly rejected by your authority within five days of being given, then it is treated
as having been accepted.