Building Control Frequently Asked Questions

What are Building Regulations?

The Building Regulations are concerned with the constructional details of buildings and set down minimum standards to safeguard the health and safety of persons in and around buildings; conserve fuel and power and water and to provide facilities for disabled people. They are applied by all local authorities in England and Wales and therefore apply on a national basis. (Scotland has similar but separate Regulations)

How can I obtain Building Regulation approval for my building work?

You have the choice of adopting one of two alternative procedures under which the work can be carried out; a Full Plans application or a Building Notice submission If you have appointed an architect or other suitably qualified person to prepare plans the procedures should be known by them and they will act as your agent to apply on your behalf. This is recommended as the best course for peopled not experienced in building work.

What are the advantages of a Full Plans application?

There are a number of advantages to using a Full Plans applications.

  • The process of preparing the plans allows you to carefully consider your proposals and receive professional advice.
  • You can see your proposals on plan giving you a clear indication of how they will affect your property and if the works will meet your needs.
  • It will be easier for the builder to prepare an accurate quotation since they will have detailed plans to refer to.
  • It will be easier to explain to your builder what works you are proposing and there will be less room for error and disputes.
  • The plans will form part of a contract between you and your builder.
  • If you are borrowing money in order to finance your proposals you may need to have plans to show the bank or building society.
  • You will receive an Approval Notice for the works.
  • If your Contractor builds in accordance with the approved plans you can be confident of compliance with the Building Regulations.
  • The plans will form a historical record of the works that have been carried out and can be lodged with the deeds of your property.

What types of works are suitable for the Building Notice procedure?

Minor works such as Internal alterations involving the removal of one or two walls, installation of boilers or other heating appliances, insertion of windows, installation of bathrooms and other drainage, garages / carports (not exempt from building regulation), and the underpinning of foundations.

What are the advantages of the Building Notice procedure?

Works can commence after the giving of a Building Notice. Detailed plans are not always required resulting in savings in time and cost. With this procedure you must be confident that the works will comply with the Building Regulations or there is a risk of having to correct it after inspection. You may be asked to submit plans and calculations at a later stage to show that your proposals comply with the Building Regulations.

What are the disadvantages of the Building Notice Procedure?

No approval notice will be issued and a Building Notice may not be accepted for mortgage purposes. The Building Notice procedure can not be used where it is intended to carry out work in relation to a building which the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies i.e commercial buildings and buildings to which the public are admitted or if the building is within 3m of a sewer or fronts a private street.

What is Fenestration Self Assessment Scheme(FENSA)?

When fitting new windows or doors, the alternative to making an application to the local authority is to opt for a company or individual registered with the FENSA scheme. This has been developed by the Glass and Glazing Federation in close consultation with the Government as a quality assurance scheme that will require installers to issue insurance backed guarantees. FENSA registered firms will issue a completion certificate to FENSA which will issue a copy to the house holders. If the installer is not registered an independent assessment of fees is offered for smaller window and/or door installations and a standard fee applies to multiple installations.

Where can I get a copy of the Building Regulations 2010?

The current building regulations can be viewed on the Planning Portal in Related Content and they may also be available for inspection online in main libraries. You can also obtain copies from RIBA bookshops.

How can I ensure that my proposals comply with the Building Regulations?

Each part of the Building Regulations is supported by Approved Documents which contain the functional requirements and provide technical guidance on how to meet the regulations. There is no obligation to adopt any of the guidance in the Approved Documents to meet the functional requirements and designers may wish to refer to other documents such as:

  • British Standards
  • British Standards Codes of Practice
  • Agreement Certificates
  • Technical Certificates and Approved Technical Specification
  • Harmonised European Standards

A design in accordance with the Approved Documents tends to show compliance. If the guidance in the Approved Document is not followed, it will be for the designer to demonstrate by other means that the Regulations have been satisfied.

Is there a charge for this service?

Yes. The level of the fee can be determined from our Building Control standard charges in the Related Content, Building Control standard Charges, or send an email with full details using this form - an independent assessment and calculation of the correct fee will be made.

Estimated cost of work means an estimate, accepted by the Authority, as being a reasonable amount that would be charged by a person in business to carry out such work. A reduction cannot be allowed for DIY work.

If there is uncertainty concerning the proposed cost of the works, reference would need to be made to the cost index provided by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This records what it normally costs to build different types of building in different areas. Alternatively, you can supply a detailed breakdown of the costs provided by a qualified Quantity Surveyor or Estimator.

Am I required to inform my neighbours when I make a building regulation application and do they have the right to object to the proposed works?

No. Although it is advisable to inform any affected or interested parties. Your work could also be subject to other statutory requirements, such as Planning Permission, Fire Precautions, Water Regulations, Licensing and the Party Wall Act 1996.

How long is the application valid for?

A Building Regulation application is valid for three years from the date of deposit. If you have started the works within the three years, there is no time limit to finish. however the onus is on the owner to ensure regular visits to check  progress are being requested.

When can I start work on my proposals?

Once you have made a Building Regulation application and paid the correct fee, work can start after giving a notice of commencement of works.

If you have opted to deposit a full plans application it is advisable to wait for a notice of approval from the Local Authority before starting work. Once you have approval you will then have the protection of knowing that as long as you are building in accordance with the approved plans then the Council cannot take enforcement action against you for failing to comply with the Building Regulations.

However, if you start works before the Full Plans application has been approved, all works will be at your own risk until the application is approved and you may be asked to pull down, alter or remove any works that are subsequently found not to comply with the Regulations

What happens if I depart from the approved plans?

Ideally you should discuss any proposed changes with your Building Control surveyor and if necessary the Planning Officer before you do them and we may ask for amended plans to be submitted. Ultimately the works carried out on site must comply with the requirements of the Building Regulations.

Who makes the Building Regulations?

The Building Regulations are made under powers provided in the Building Act 1984, and apply in England and Wales. The current edition of the regulations is 'The Building Regulations 2010' and the majority of building projects are required to comply with them.

The Act also gives power to Rochford District Council to ensure that building work within the district complies with the functional requirements of the Building Regulations. From time to time the Building Regulations are amended and you can view copies of the latest Regulations on the Planning Portal via the link in Related Content.

What is the scope of the Building Regulations?

The Building Regulations are grouped under 15 'parts'. The 'parts' cover a range of individual aspects of building design and construction as follows;

  • Part A - Structure
  • Part B - Fire Safety
  • Part C - Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture
  • Part D - Toxic Substances
  • Part E - Resistance to Passage of Sound
  • Part F - Ventilation
  • Part G - Hygiene
  • Part H - Drainage and waste disposal
  • Part J - Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems
  • Part K - Protection from falling, collision and impact
  • Part L - Conservation of Fuel and Power
  • Part M - Access to and use of buildings
  • Part P - Electrical Safety
  • Part Q - unauthorised access
  • Part R - in-building physical infrastructure

An online copy of the Building Regulations can be viewed on the Planning Portal by using the link in Related Content.

What happens after I have submitted my Full Plans application to the Local Authority?

  • Checks are made to see if all the necessary forms, fees and plans have been submitted.
  • The application is entered on the Building Control register
  • The plans and supporting documents are checked by a Building Control surveyor to see if the proposals comply with the Building Regulations
  • If there are discrepancies or insufficient information has been submitted it is normal for an amendment letter to be sent to the Agent/ Applicant requesting amendments
  • Amended plans will be checked and if they show compliance with the regulations the application will be approved.
  • If there are matters still requiring adjustments you will be notified and further amendment letter be sent to the Agent/ Applicant
  • A decision notice will be issued within 5 weeks of the date of deposit, or with the Agent/ Applicants agreement this can be extended to 8 weeks.
  • The decision notice will indicate the decision, any conditions imposed on the approval or where necessary the reasons why the plans were rejected.

What can I do if my plans are rejected?

It is the aim of Building Control staff to work with you and your agent to ensure that plans of the proposed building work comply with the Building Regulations and can be given approval.

However, where there are defects or omissions shown on the plans at the decision date and a conditional approval can not be issued  then a rejection notice may be issued  stating the parts of the building regulations where there was insufficient information in the proposal to determine compliance.

When an application is rejected Building Control will issue a schedule of items indicating which parts of the proposals are in contravention of the Building Regulations. In order for an approval to be issued it will be necessary for the plans to be amended to comply with the Building Regulations

What happens if I contravene the Building Regulations?

You are committing an offence if;

  • There is a continuing  contravention of the functional requirements of the Building Regulations, also.
  • if you start work that requires a Building Regulation application without having the intension of submitting one, ,and
  • if you occupy or use a new building without having obtained a certificate of completion.

The Local Authority may take enforcement action in each instance. There are penalties which impose a liability of maximum fine of £5,000 with an additional fine £50 per day if offence continues.

Will I get a completion certificate?

Yes! You should notify your Building Control Surveyor when the works are complete and arrange for a completion inspection to be undertaken. If everything is in order he/ she will issue a Certificate of Completion for the works. However, applicants should note that a request to inspect completed building works should be received by the Council within 5 years of the original notice of works or full plans application. If a request is received outside of this time, an inspection may be made at the absolute discretion of the Council and an additional fee shall be payable in this respect.

If work has been carried out on my property and I do not have Building Regulation approval, what should I do?

In the first instance contact the Building Control department of your Local Authority to explain what work you are concerned about. They can determine whether an application would have been required and check their records to determine if the work described if an application was submitted.

If there is no record of an application having been submitted you may be able to submit a Regularisation application to gain retrospective approval. A charge is payable for this service.

Each Local Authority has a system for dealing with such enquiries all of which are designed to help satisfy the answers expected by the legal profession in these circumstances particularly in matters of property conveyance. Local Authorities may have charges for this service and will advise accordingly

Where can I get a copy of Building Regulation decision notices and completion certificates for my property and is there a charge for this service?

If you are the owner of the property or their agent,you can contact us using this form or write to the Rochford District Council, Planning department, Council Offices, South Street, Rochford, SS4 1BW, allowing 10 working days for a reply. To help us find the information you will need to provide us with;

  • the address of the property
  • an approximate date of when the works were carried out
  • if possible the application number.

Do you know who is providing your Building Control?

Everyone knows that it is important to choose the right builder to carry out work on your property. It is equally important you are careful that is is your choice of Building Control Service provider.

Building Control services are now available from two sources:-

  • Local Authority Building Control (LABC) - the traditional and long established route, or
  • Approved Inspectors - companies operating private sector businesses and licensed by the Government to offer a Building Control Service.

There are some differences between the level of service you will receive. So why choose Local Authority Building Control?

  • We believe in sound working relationships based on understanding and support
  • We are committed to maintaining the highest standards and ensuring that the built environment in which we all live, work and play is safe and healthy
  • We will work with you to achieve quality construction that meets the building standards. Whether you are an Architect, builder or householder carrying out DIY, you can rely on us
  • We give value for money and achieve high standards whilst still being impartial
  • We are publicly accountable
  • We will work with other representatives of the Local Authority and associated agencies to assist your project
  • We have a vast archive of local knowledge of sites in our district and can utilise this to offer knowledge based pre-application advice
  • We are locally based so we are able to respond very quickly to on site construction needs if required
  • We offer inspection plans and progress reports for your project
  • We can offer flexible payment terms (on bigger projects)
  • We can accept applications electronically
  • We have professionally qualified staff