What sort of work is covered by Building regulations?

Building regulations often gets overshadowed by planning approval and as result a lot of people are not fully aware of the requirements and their duties when it comes to building projects.

The responsibility of complying with the regulations usually lies with the person carrying out the work.  But as a building owner its worth bearing in mind that you may be served with the enforcement notice for anything that doesn’t come up to scratch.

In general the type of projects that require approval are new buildings, extensions, alterations, some changes of use and replacement services or fittings like bathrooms, hot water tanks, drains, windows or heating systems.

The scope of building regulations is very wide reaching and it’s often the small jobs that are less well understood.

The projects need to comply with the appropriate technical requirements detailed in the building regulations and they must not make other building elements less compliant as a result.

When changing the use of a building it might not comply with the regulations that apply to its new use, so parts of the building will need to be amended to meet building regulations.

Before starting work you can check what is covered in Regulation 3 of the building regulations, or if you are in any doubt just ask the architect.

What Architectural work goes into a new extension or building project?

Part one of a two part explanation of the key design stages in a construction project.

When I meet a client to discuss a project for the first time, I get asked a lot of questions about the process and the work required, for example, when do I make a planning application?  How do I get prices from builders?  When will work start on site?

It’s quite natural for the building owner, to want to understand how the project develops from their initial ideas and needs, to handing over the keys and popping the champagne cork and it’s part of my job to outline the process at the first meeting so they are aware of the scope of work involved.

The sequence of most building projects can be split into five clear stages so for part one, I have outlined the usual requirements of the first three.  However, some projects need a different or more flexible approach to suit the client and respond to specific challenges in advance of their relevant stage.  For example you may decide to discuss the project with the planning department before completing a design.

Stage one – Brief and Survey

Following an initial meeting, a client’s instruction and appointment, the first thing to do, is to create a starting point.  This involves measuring the building and the site to produce an accurate record of the property including items like room layouts, drains, land levels and boundaries.

The amount and detail of information required will be determined by the client’s brief, which is normally established at the first meeting.  The survey is used to produce a set of existing drawings, which are then used as a template for all the following stages and it is important that they are accurate to help the construction work to proceed without difficulty.

Stage two – Design

The client’s requirements are fully detailed and the brief is expanded to create a design wish list, prior to any drawing being produced.  The success of a design relies in part on the clarity and detail of the information given to the designer, to enable them to produce ideas that address the client’s needs.

In response to the finished brief a set of drawings is produced to show how the building and property might be created to resolve the issues in the best possible way.  The thinking behind the designs is explained and the practicalities of the resulting works can be discussed in detail.  If required changes to the drawings can be made to satisfy the client before moving on to the next stage.

Stage three – Planning and Building Regulations Applications

Depending on the details of the project it may not be necessary to make both applications.  However, if both applications are needed, this stage is usually carried out in sequence by using the approved design to make a Planning Application first and then a Building Regulations Application following Planning Approval.

A Planning Application is made by adding extra information to the drawings to include items like materials, external appearance, location, size and scale and to show how the proposals relate to national and regional planning policies.

A Building Regulations Application is made by adding technical and construction information to the drawings including, drains, foundations, ventilation and energy use, to satisfy the Building Inspector that the works will comply with a set of standard national regulations.

Both applications require a certain amount of paperwork and the council request payment for all but a few special types of submissions.

In my next post I shall outline the last two stages of creating the working drawings and managing the project on site through to completion.

Don’t move or improve – Try new build.

I originally wrote this in November 2008, after moving into my first self build.  It was written as a test peice for the 4Homes webiste but never got published.

There are five main aspects to any building project, your requirements, finance, management, cost, profit and design.  I hope to show you how a new build house can be a better option than home improvements or moving, especially in the current market.

If you are finding it difficult to move house, you should increase your options by considering a new build project, as a conversion or extension can be a compromise, because of limitations imposed by the existing building and its location.  It is also worth remembering that the process of buying land is relatively quick and you are unlikely to be in a buying chain.

Instead of extending your mortgage to cover the cost of your home improvements, try looking at self build mortgages as they offer staged payments to suit progress and may well be cheaper and easier to arrange at present.  In addition, as interest rates are so low, a bank loan is a decent option to cover some of the project costs.

A simple extension or conversion can be more stressful than creating a new building.  There is a huge impact on your daily routine through loss of rooms and living on a building site as well as the increased possibility of hidden problems associated with existing buildings.  Whilst, there may be more work involved with a new build, there should be less unforeseen complications and the work will be more straight forward and easier to manage.

You may be surprised to learn how much cheaper it is to build a house than buy a similar one and how favourably the build cost compares per floor area with building a large extension.  Once you add in reduced land and labour prices and the advantage of zero rated VAT for new houses, the cost of a new building starts to make sense.

Most home improvement projects will add value to your house.  However, the resale value of a new build project will be significantly more that the build cost.  The old rule of thumb used to be one third land, one third building and one third profit.  Given the current market conditions, the ratio of profit can only improve.

As well as all the financial and practical advantages of building a new house you shouldn’t dismiss the emotional aspects of starting from scratch and building what you want and how you want it.  You may think that an extension will improve your live dramatically, but just think what a new house will do!

So if you are keen to move or you’re thinking about a building project, consider self building, you get what you want, it’s easy to fund, relatively easy to do, great value for money, brings good return and can improve your way of life!

mbf DESIGN – How to get in touch.

I set up my own company in September 2009 and I offer a range of Architect services for businesses and individuals covering all aspects of design and construction.


If you want to learn more about my company or just get in touch: