Building Regulations

Building regulations, unlike planning permission are only concerned with how the structure goes together and its performance in relation to fire safety, thermal and sound efficiency etc. without these controls in place you might have an unsuitable structure built on your property. There are many parts of the building regulations called documents. We deal with ‘Document A’ This part is concerned with the structural stability of buildings. Areas covered include design of foundations, walls, floors and roof components and also in limiting the extent to which parts of the building may collapse if a major catastrophe, like a gas explosion occurs. Essentially, the building regulations are more to do with the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the building process. Architects or architectural technologists deal with documents B to P.

synagogueThe building control department at the local council needs to be satisfied that what you intend to build complies with the building regulations. They will need to see more detailed drawings than that of planning drawings together with sections (like a slice) through the structure, and a specification of materials you intend to use. Building regulations are required for most forms of extensions and conversions, with the exception of some types of conservatories and porches.

We have an excellent relationship with many surrounding councils and their building inspectors. In fact Brighton & Hove, Adur, Lewes, Rother and Mid-Sussex local authorities pass on my details to the enquiring public in need of a structural engineer.

We submit detailed calculations and drawings, often in conjunction with an architect’s separate drawings and written specification of materials to be used. These are unique to each and every separate project.

There are two main ways of ensuring your project is approved by the local authority. The first is a Building Notice and the second is a full plans application. An explanation is below for both.

Building Notice FAQs

Can you submit a building notice?
If you are proposing to carry out minor alterations to your domestic property then the answer is probably ‘Yes’. If however you are carrying out an extension or you are proposing to construct rooms in your roof space, then a Full Plans application is more appropriate. If you are proposing work to a non-domestic property, then a Building Notice will usually be unacceptable. 

What are the advantages/disadvantages of submitting a Building Notice?

Advantages:

  • cost: You may avoid the cost of having detailed plans prepared, although whilst the works are in progress you might be asked to provide specific details or information to confirm that your works are complying with the regulations.       
  • speed: Once you have submitted your application and given the council two days notice, you can start the works. A Building Control Surveyor will visit you, inspect the works as they progress and inform you of any other requirements.

Disadvantages:

  • no approved architects plans: Without the benefit of approved architects plans you do not have the security of knowing that your proposals comply with all the relevant regulations. You will be required to put right at you own expense, anything which does not comply. However, we ensure that Part A, structure is strictly complied with. The building control officer often is happy to advise on other non structural items to ensure compliance with the regulations.    

On completion do I get confirmation that the works are satisfactory?

Yes, providing you give the council written notice that the works are complete, that there are no outstanding fees and that the Building Surveyor finds no problems during his final inspection, then a Certificate of Satisfactory Completion will be sent to the owner of the property.  This applies equally to both types of application.

Can I download the relevant forms?

Yes. You can download forms from the relevant authorities website. They are often in pdf format which you can print off to use.

What will an application cost me?

The councils fees are payable to the authority not us. This will depend on the nature and or costs of your proposed work.

Do I need Building Regulation Approval for a Conservatory?

No, providing the following conditions apply:

  • the conservatory has an area of less than 30 square meters
  • if you have a radiator in the conservatory then it must have a thermostatic control valve
  • the conservatory must be separated from the main house by an external quality door or windows
  • the conservatory walls should be more than 50% glazed and have a translucent roof
  • the conservatory must be at ground level
  • any glazing should comply with Approved Document N regarding safety glazing in critical areas.

Full Plans Application

A Full Plans Application consists of engineers and architects calculations, drawings and specifications submitted to the local authority building control for checking and approval prior to commencement of works. The submitted information will be thoroughly checked by the local authority team and you will be issued with an Approval Notice indicating that the works shown in the information comply with the building regulations.

This will give you the protection of being able to prove your plans have been passed for the purposes of the Building Regulations and allow you to obtain more accurate estimates for the work.

An Approval Notice will NOT be given for Building Notice. If there is a dispute, no procedure exists to seek a determination from the Secretary of State. With a Building Notice without plans, sometimes your builder may not fully understand your intentions; this may lead to confusion and sometimes ending up with a scheme that differs from your intentions. It may be difficult to obtain accurate estimates and to enter into fixed price contracts. For both systems a Final Completion Certificate will be issued, providing that the works have been completed in accordance with the Regulations.