How Regulations Apply


3.1 ‘Building Work’ is defined in Regulation 3 of the Building Regulations. The definition means that the following types of project amount to ‘Building Work’:

  • l the erection or extension of a building;
  • l the installation or extension of a service or fitting which is controlled under the regulations;
  • l 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;
  • l the insertion of insulation into a cavity wall; and l the underpinning of the foundations of a building.

3.2 If whatever work your project involves amounts to ‘Building Work’ then it must comply with the Building Regulations. This means that if you want to:

  • put up a new building, or extend or alter an existing one (e.g. by converting a loft space into living space);
  • or provide services and/or fittings in a building such as:
  1. washing and sanitary facilities (e.g. WCs, showers,
  2. washbasins, kitchen sinks, etc.),
  3. hot water cylinders,
  4. foul water and rainwater drainage,
  5. replacement windows, and
  6. fuel burning appliances of any type;


then the Building Regulations will probably apply. This means that the works themselves must meet the relevant technical requirementsin Schedule 1 and they must not make other fabric, services andfittings less compliant than they previously were – or dangerous.For example, the provision of replacement double-glazing must not worsen compliance in relation to: means of escape; air supply for combustion appliances and their flues; and ventilation for health. They may also apply to:

  • certain changes of use of an existing building even though you may think that the work involved in the project will not amount to ‘Building Work’. This is because the change of use may result in the building as a whole no longer complying with the requirements which will apply to its new type of use, and so having to be up-graded to meet additional requirements specified in the regulations for which building work may also be required.


3.3 You should take care to consider the site on which you are proposing to build or extend. If, for example, your proposed building work involves building close to or over the top of drains, your Building Control Service will need to consult the sewerage undertaker who may make recommendations on what action to take to protect the drain from any damage which could result from your building work. Many existing rain water and/or foul
water drains are shown on what is called ‘the official map of sewers’. But even if a particular drain is not on this map, and therefore not subject to the consultation procedure, you should still consider what protective action may be needed to protect it from your proposed building work.


3.4 You should also find out if the site on which you want to build has a history of contamination. For example, the site may:

  • be in an area where the level of radon gas present in the ground is such that there is a possibility that excessive quantities of radon gas could build up in the building;
  • contain contaminated substances either near the surface or deeper down; or
  • be within 250m of a landfill site.

In such cases protection from gas or contaminated substances may be required under Part C (‘Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture’) of the Building Regulations.



3.5 Generally there are no obligations to consult your neighbours, but it would be sensible to do so. In any event, you should be careful that your proposed building work does not interfere with their property as this could lead to bad feeling and possibly civil action for the modification or removal of the work. For example, your work may comply with the Building Regulations but could result in the obstruction or malfunctioning of your neighbour’s boiler flue. You should also check your boundary lines and satisfy yourself that there are no deeds of covenant which may prevent you carrying out certain types of building work close to or directly adjoining your neighbour’s property.


3.6 Although consultation with your neighbours is not required under the Building Regulations, you should note that if your project is subject to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 you must give notice to adjoining owners under that Act (see Annex B: ‘Sources of information’). Consultation and objection procedures may also come into play if other legislation is involved – particularly, for example, if your proposal requires approval under Town and Country Planning legislation.




3.7 You should always bear in mind that although the work involved in a building project may not amount to ‘Building Work’ and consequently not be subject to the Building Regulations, it may be subject to other statutory regulations and the end result of what you want to do could result in a dangerous situation or in damage to your own or your neighbour’s property. It may also result in your own and/or your neighbour’s building no longer complying in some way with the Building Regulations.


3.8 The type of points to watch out for are:

  • Constructing an open air swimming pool, or a garden pond. These can cause a danger – especially to children – during construction and afterwards. Safety precautions will need to be taken.
  • l Building a garden wall. Even if it is quite low, this can present a danger if it is not built properly – especially to children. A free leaflet is available on the construction of free standing walls (see Annex B: ‘Sources of information’).
  • Work involving any form of construction close to your own home or your neighbour’s boundary which might, for example: obstruct ventilation grills to ground floors; obstruct or cause the malfunctioning of boiler flues; or produce boiler fumes that are a nuisance to a neighbour.
  • Adding a floor screed or decking to an existing balcony. This may not always be subject to control under the Building Regulations but may result in a reduction in the effective height of the guard rail, and so increase the risk of people overbalancing and falling.
  • The building of an exempt building such as a car port, conservatory or porch (see Annex A which summarises the exemptions in the Building Regulations) which might, for example: obstruct ventilation grills to ground floors; obstruct or cause the malfunctioning of boiler flues; adversely affect the safety of a gas meter due to reduced ventilation or excessive temperature exposure; or prejudice safe gas appliance operating conditions.
  • The removal of a tree close to a wall of your own house or of an adjoining property. This could affect the foundations and structural stability of the building.

In all such cases it would be advisable to seek professional advice and/or consult your local authority.