Communities and Local Government is responsible for national policy on building regulations, which exist principally to ensure the health, safety, welfare and convenience of people in and around buildings, and the water and energy efficiency of buildings. The regulations apply to most new buildings and many alterations of existing buildings in England and Wales, whether domestic, commercial or industrial.
Building regulations, which are made under powers provided in the Building Act 1984 and apply in England and Wales, are mainly found in The Building Regulations 2000 (as amended) and The Building (Approved Inspectors) Regulations 2000 (as amended), which can be found in the Legislation section. The legislation covers both the technical standards that need to be met and the procedures that need to be followed.
This Department is also responsible for the authorisation, and monitoring, of Competent Person Schemes. These Schemes apply to a variety of specified types of building work. Members of these Schemes have been assessed as competent to self-certify that work they carry out which is covered by the Scheme, complies with the building regulations. Further information can be found in the Competent Person Schemes section.
The main function of Building Control is to ensure compliance with the building regulations. This function is carried out by a Building Control Body (BCB), either the local authority building control service or a private sector Approved Inspector (AI). Certain types of building work can be self-certificated as compliant with building regulations by a member of a Competent Person Scheme without the need to notify a BCB.
The general advice is to always discuss your proposals with the relevant BCB before starting any building work. Local authorities have a duty to implement and enforce building regulations within their own areas, so if you have a general enquiry about the regulations you should firstly contact your local authority.
To find out more about your responsibilities and how to get approval – follow the links on the right hand side in ‘On Other Sites’ section.
Please note: The inspections which BCBs undertake should not be confused with full site supervision. Inspections are only carried out at certain stages of the building work. Completion certificates or final certificates, which local authorities or Approved Inspectors respectively issue, are therefore not a guarantee or warranty for the building work that has been carried out.
The following links/publications should help you understand the Building Control system:
for a simple visual guide (external link) relating building regulations to household building projects you can visit the Planning Portal website which is a one-stop source of information on all planning and building regulations matters
the Department has published The Building Regulations Explanatory Booklet. It provides an introduction to the Building Regulations in England and Wales only, and can be found below in the Related Publications section
guidance on how to meet the functional requirements of the Building Regulations, is contained in the Building Regulations – Approved Documents (external link). The latest versions can be downloaded for free in Adode PDF format from the Planning Portal website
To find out about building regulations policies:
the latest building regulations publications relating to consultations, impact assessments, policy, manuals and booklets can be found under the Publications section on the left hand side. The Department also publishes a number of research reports to help provide scientific support for building regulations policies and all such research reports can be found in the Building Regulation Research section
to explain new and altered building regulations policy and legislation, the Department publishes departmental Circulars and Circular Letters which provide further guidance to Building Control Bodies and are available in the Circulars and Circular Letters section
If you are carrying out building work and have difficulity reaching agreement with your Building Control Body on the work required to achieve compliance with the requirements of the building regulations, there are two procedures – Determinations and Appeals – within the Building Act 1984 that can be used to resolve the dispute. Further information, including a guide and copies of previous decision letters are available in the Determinations and Appeals section. Latest decision letters can also be found in the Related Publications section below.
Other Departmental Responsibilities
This Department is the sponsoring department for the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC), an advisory non-departmental public body, which provides technical advice and views to the Department on a broad range of issues relating to the building regulations. Annual Reports, minutes and papers of meetings, and other information can found in the BRAC section.
This Department is also the sponsoring department for the Architects Registration Board (ARB), which is a statutory body responsible for the registration of architects, and further information on ARB is available in the Government liasion with architects section.
There are a number of pieces of legislation that could apply to buildings. Below are the most relevant ones although, as there may well be others relevant to your situation, you are advised to take further advice to ensure you are fully informed.
Building Act 1984
The Building Act 1984 is the enabling Act under which the Building Regulations have been made. The Secretary of State, under the power given in the Building Act 1984, may for any purposes of:
securing the health, safety, welfare and convenience of persons in or about buildings and of others who may be affected by buildings or matters connected with buildings;
furthering the conservation of fuel and power
preventing waste, undue consumption, misuse or contamination of water
furthering the protection or enhancement of the enviornment
facilitating sustainable development, or
furthering the prevention or detection of crime
make regulations with respect to the design and construction of buildings, demolition of buildings, and the provision of services, fittings and equipment in or in connection with buildings.
Copies of the Building Act 1984 and its amending legislation are available from TSO. The current regulations governing these are the Building Regulations 2000 SI 2000/2531 (as amended).
Building Regulations and Approved Inspectors Regulations
The Building Regulations 2000 and Building (Approved Inspectors etc) Regulations 2000, are made under The Building Act 1984, and apply in England and Wales. They set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.
The Department has published The Building Regulations Explanatory Booklet which provides an introduction to the Building Regulations in England and Wales only and is intended for anyone proposing to carry out building projects.
The Party Wall etc Act 1996
Some kinds of work carried out to a property may not be controlled by the Building Regulations, but may be work which is covered by the The Party Wall etc Act 1996 (external link). This is a separate piece of legislation with different requirements to the Building Regulations. The Party Wall etc. Act makes provision in respect of party walls and excavation and construction in proximity to certain buildings or structures. There will be some instances where both the Party Wall etc. Act and the Building Regulations apply to the work being carried out.
The Department has produced The Party Wall etc Act 1996: explanatory booklet that explains in simple terms how the Party Wall etc Act 1996 may affect someone who either wishes to carry out work covered by the Act (the Building Owner), or receives notification under the Act of proposed adjacent work (the Adjoining Owner).
The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998
The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998 enable local authorities in England and Wales to charge for carrying out their statutory building control functions relating to the Building Regulations.
Voluntary National Standard: Code for sustainable homes
The Code for Sustainable Homes is a voluntary national standard introduced by the Government in April 2007, to improve the overall sustainability of new homes in England. It sets a single framework within which the home building industry can design and construct homes to higher environmental standards. Where it is used, the code gives new homebuyers information about the environmental impact and the potential running costs of their new home, and offers builders a tool with which to differentiate themselves in sustainability terms.
The Construction Products Regulations 1991
The Construction Products Directive (89/106/EEC), which introduced CE marking for construction products, is implemented in the UK through the Construction Products Regulations (SI 1991/1620) (external link). These state that products must be fit for their intended purpose, and that a correctly carried out CE marking is one way of demonstrating this. There is no legal requirement under the UK Regulations for products to be CE marked before they can be put on the UK market or used in construction works.
Local Authority Building Control Charges
The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/404) (the 2010 Regulations) were laid before Parliament on 25 February 2010 and come into force on 1 April 2010 (see link ‘On other sites’, right). The 2010 Regulations revoke and replace The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/3129) (the 1998 Regulations). They make new provision authorising local authorities (LAs) in England and Wales to fix their own charges in a scheme, based on the full recovery of their costs, for carrying out their main building control functions relating to building regulations.
The 2010 Regulations contain a transitional provision which allows LAs to introduce a new charging scheme under these regulations any time between 1 April and 1 October 2010, although they must to do so by the latter date. This will enable those LAs who wish to take advantage of the new flexibilities to do so at the earliest opportunity, whilst allowing those who need more time to implement the changes longer to adopt the new charging regime. LAs continue to be required to publicise the making of a new (and replacement or amended) charging scheme in their areas at least 7 days before it comes into force.
The Department has issued Circular 01/2010 which explains the purpose of the provisions of the 2010 Regulations and how they differ from the previous 1998 Regulations (see ‘Related publications’, below).
The Department has also issue a Circular letter to Building Control Bodies which provides further general guidance on implementation of the 2010 Regulations (see ‘Related publications’, below).
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) will shortly be publishing updated guidance, titled Local Authority Building Control Accounting Guidance for England and Wales, to assist LAs in determining the costs of carrying out their chargeable building control service relating to building regulations that they should be seeking to recover when setting their charges under the 2010 Regulations. When available, this guidance can be purchased through the CIPFA website (see link ‘On other sites’, right).
In April 2009 the Department consulted on a package of proposals to change the LA building control charging regime with the aim of introducing more flexibility, accuracy, fairness and transparency into the regime and improving the standards and environment within which LAs and Approved Inspectors (AIs) operate and compete.
Following the broad support from consultees for most of the proposals the Department implemented the changes through the 2010 Regulations, although some modifications were made to reflect the views of consultees and restrictions imposed by the charging power in the Building Act 1984 (as amended).
The key principles relating to LA building control charges remain the need to fix their charges by means of a scheme, to achieve full cost recovery and the fact that the user should pay for the actual service that they receive. However, greater emphasis is given to the need to relate charges to the cost of carrying out the relevant building control function for individual building projects.
The main changes in the 2010 Regulations relate to new flexibilities in particular: the ability to charge for giving substantive advice related to LA building control functions; an increased range of factors to be taken into account in setting charges; the option of setting either standard charges or making individual determinations of charges; and being able to give refunds and make supplementary charges, all of which are intended to make the charging regime more accurate and fairer. New accounting requirements are also included which are intended to make the regime more transparent and accountable.
The consultation paper, a summary of the consultation responses, and a final Impact Assessment (which was revised following the consultation) can also be found under ‘Related publications’ section below.
Code for Sustainable Homes
The Code is the national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes. The Code aims to reduce our carbon emissions and create homes that are more sustainable.
The Code measures the sustainability of a new home against nine categories of sustainable design, rating the ‘whole home’ as a complete package. The Code uses a one to six star rating system to communicate the overall sustainability performance of a new home. The Code sets minimum standards for energy and water use at each level and, within England, replaces the EcoHomes scheme, developed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE).
The Code will provide valuable information to home buyers, and offers builders a tool with which to differentiate themselves in sustainability terms.
If you attended the Local Authority workshops on the Code the presentations are now available on the BRE website (see ‘On Other Sites’ links, right).
The Code supports the government target that all new homes will be zero carbon from 2016 and the step changes in Building Regulations Part L leading to this. We are now consulting on changes to the Code in light of changing regulations and the development of the zero carbon definition as well as further options for streamlining and updating the Code. TheSustainable New Homes: The Road to Zero Carbon: Consultation on the Code for Sustainable Homes and the Energy Efficiency standard for Zero Carbon Homes invites comments on our proposals before 24 March 2010.
Communities and Local Government has published the leaflet Greener Homes for the Future, which highlights what the Code is, how it works and what it means to have a mandatory rating for new homes.
The Department has published two case studies which show the different ways of achieving various levels of the Code and also highlights potential pit-falls for developers (see ‘Related publications’ links, below).
The Department has also funded the production of The Sponge Buyer’s Guide To A Greener Home, which gives buyers of new homes the confidence and the knowledge to buy a greener, more sustainable, home (see ‘On Other Sites’ links, right).
Guidance on how to comply with the Code
The Code for Sustainable Homes: Setting the Sustainability Standards for New Homes , which sets out the assessment process and the performance standards required for the Code.
The Code for Sustainable Homes: Technical guide , which sets out the requirements for the Code, and the process by which a Code assessment is reached. The latest version is the ‘May 2009 Version 2’ guide which comes into effect on 22 June 2009. For homes registered on or after this date, the May 2009 Version 2 will apply. The October 2008 version (which is available in the achived section) will only apply to homes registered before this date.
The Code for Sustainable Homes: Summary of Changes to the Technical Guidance May 2009 Version 2 , records the changes between the October 2008 version of the Code for Sustainable Homes Technical Guide and the May 2009 version.
CLG and BRE Global Ltd have produced twoTechnical Guidance Notes that provide further clarification of the interpretation of the Technical Guide requirements for Surface Water Run-off, and addresses some of the complexity of the evidence requirements which are required within the current Technical Guides issued to date (see ‘On Other Sites’ links, right).
In November 2007 we published an Impact Assessment which was part of the Housing and Regeneration Bill Impact Assessment paper, that analysed the costs and benefits of introducing mandatory ratings against the Code which included updated modelling data on the costs of building Code homes. Further details of the cost modelling undertaken can be found in the report Cost Analysis of The Code for Sustainable Homes: Final report. An updated cost analysis, based upon 2009 research, can be found in the report Code for Sustainable Homes: A Cost Review.
On 13 December 2006, the Code for Sustainable Homes – a new national standard for sustainable design and construction of new homes – was launched. Since April 2007 the developer of any new home in England can choose to be assessed against the Code.
On 16 November 2007 the Government confirmed that it would be proceeding with the implementation of mandatory ratings against the Code for all new homes following responses to the consultation on making a rating mandatory. From 1 May 2008 it is now mandatory for all new homes to be rated against the Code and include a Code or nil-rated certificate within the Home Information Pack.