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Home Improvements – What Are Building Regulations?

Home Improvements – What Are Building Regulations?

Building Regulations are designed to keep people safe and to make sure that domestic and commercial properties are structurally sound as well as energy and water efficient.

Building Regulations are often confused with Planning Permission, but they are two separate things. Planning Permission is the initial permission to build or develop a building. Building regulations control the safety and construction of a building works. They are set standards which apply to all building works undertaken in England and Wales; Scotland has its own Building Regulations. Building Regulations also cover the provision of facilities for people with disabilities and appropriate access in and around buildings.

If you use a professional builder, architect or installer, they will be able to advise you on what you need to do and make sure that your works are signed off.

What Are Building Works?

Building works include all of the following – if you are undertaking this work on your property, you need to make sure it meets Building Regulations and gains the relevant approval:

  • Any alterations or renovations which will affect existing Building Regulations compliance, including fire safety, access and structure.
  • Extensions, conversions or erection of a building.
  • Cavity wall installation.
  • Underpinning the foundations of a building.

The following are considered to be building works and need Building Regulation approval, but can be approved by a trader who is registered with the relevant Competent Persons Scheme:

  • Installation of windows (using a company that is registered with FENSA).
  • Replacement or alterations to electrical circuits near baths or showers.
  • Installation of new or replacement boiler.
  • Installation of fuel burning appliances.
  • Installation of new, or alteration of existing, plumbing.
  • Roof cover replacement.

Building Regulation Categories

There are fifteen different categories of Building Regulations. Known as “approved documents”, different home improvement projects will fall into different categories. The categories, labelled A to Q, are:

  • Part A: Structural safety
  • Part B: Fire safety
  • Part C: Site preparation, resistance to contaminants and moisture
  • Part D: Toxic substances
  • Part E: Resistance to sound
  • Part F: Ventilation
  • Part G: Sanitation, hot water and water efficiency
  • Part H: Drainage and waste disposal
  • Part J: Heating and appliances
  • Part K: Protection from falling, collision and impact
  • Part L: Conservation of fuel and power
  • Part M: Access to and use of buildings
  • Part N: Glazing safety
  • Part P: Electrical safety
  • Part Q: Security

If you don’t get Building Regulations approval, your property could be at risk, and it could prove hard to sell further down the road. Your tradesperson should be able to guide you through the Building Regulations process – to save making changes to your home that are not compliant with Building Regulations, choose a reliable builder, gas engineer or double-glazing specialist who is registered with a Competent Persons Scheme.

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