If you are thinking about renovating or doing some building work, then it is imperative that you understand how building regulations will affect your plans.
Building Control is not just there to limit your plans, delay your building and annoy you. The regulations are, in fact, there to prevent the building of unsafe health hazards and to serve the general public.
The regulations only apply to buildings. Garden walls, paths, fences and drives are not covered.
As well as ensuring the safety of new buildings this department is also concerned with the affects of any building on the natural environment. Everything from your plans, methods of construction, and materials will be subject to the constraint of comprehensive regulations, and will be monitored by mandatory site inspections that will confirm that you are conforming to requirements.
Planning for your Building
Any substantial building work requires a plan that will be compiled and overseen by a combination of surveyors, technicians, and architects. Any one of these professionals should be completely aware of current regulations, which are updated annually, and advise you as to how they will be affecting your plans.
Planning regulations are a completely different thing to building regulations and they are not interchangeable.
Plans can be granted permission but this does not mean you are ready to go; building control governs the ‘how’ of your build rather than the ‘what’ and must also be adhered to.
Both the planning and building regulation departments are based at your local council and usually informative, reasonable and helpful. After all, they are not there to catch people out but to serve in the interests of you and your neighbours.
Building without planning permission is extremely unwise. Whether you get caught immediately or you struggle in years to come to sell your home because it does not conform to regulations, the responsibility will be on you to put things right.
In extreme cases this can mean total removal of the building, which can be extremely disruptive and financially punishing. Even if your building only requires a few ‘small’ alterations it can be surprisingly costly, cause unwanted stress, and can be extremely infuriating when you consider that you could have done it right first time and saved yourself the anguish.
The system is there to protect, not frustrate or punish. It is quite a logical and clear system and it really does pay to adhere to it.
When is planning permission needed?
Your building surveyor, technician or architect should be able to give you situation specific advice as to whether or not you will need planning permission to make the changes that you have in mind.
Not all work will require planning permission, as there are certain rights that allow for a limited amount of change called ‘permitted development rights’.
This type of permitted building work that does not need planning permission includes things like general repairs and replacing like with like. This basically means that if you are not altering the position, size, general framework or materials used then your building work will be exempt.
It is always better to be safe than sorry though, so if you are in any doubt about the work that you are contemplating, then it could be very much in your interest to consult your local building control office before it is too late.
Getting planning permission
If you have decided that your work does indeed need planning permission there are two application methods for approval:
1) The ‘Householder Planning’ option
It should be used for projects such as:
Garages, car ports and outbuildings
2) The ‘Full Plans’ option
To ensure compliance with the regulations of major work you will be required to submit fully detailed plans, specifications, calculations and any other supporting details.
As a general rule it usually follows that the bigger the project the more detailed the submitted plans must be. The plans must be formally approved or rejected within the legally set period of five weeks.
Once the work is underway the site will be inspected periodically to ensure compliance. Certain projects will have restricted progress whereby one stage of the build must be approved before the next stage can begin.