For anyone embarking on a building project, the first port of call should always be your planning department and building control officer to find out if you will need their help to keep it all legal. The whole process may seem frightening and off-putting, but broken down it is really very simple and worthwhile doing.
Planning permission and building regulations are two separate matters and even if you have planning permission you will still have to check if you need building regulation approval as well. Building regulations apply to the following types of building work:
- Extensions or alterations which may affect the structure, use of or access to a building. Certain fittings by registered installers may be “self certified”.
- Window fitting not carried out by a registered fitter
- Cavity wall insulation
- Changing the use of a building
- Extension of services or the installation of new services
Building control bodies are in charge of checking to see if the work done has complied with building regulations. Approved inspectors or local authority departments usually inspect work as it it is completed to ensure it complies. The building inspector you choose to use will explain how and when they will wish to inspect the work and at what building stage.
If the building inspector finds that the work does not meet building regulations approval, there is also a process for appealing or determining. A determination is when the decision is made by the local government to resolve matters where the inspector and the builder do not agree that building regulations have been adhered to. An appeal is where the builder believes that they should not have to comply with building regulations at all. It is important to decide whether it is best to appeal or ask for a determination.
Assuming that all goes well and the building regulations inspector signs off the property, it is very important to keep all the paperwork as it will be required when a house is sold. If there is any evidence of any structural changes to a house, the correct certification will need to be produced to show that proper procedure has been followed. For example a loft conversion without building regulation paperwork cannot be declared as a room for proper use in a sale. This can significantly affect the sale price of a home.
A builder should know if buildings regulations approval is needed if you are having work done, but as the home-owner you should still check this for yourself. Some unscrupulous builders may avoid the issue potentially placing you as the home-owner in a sticky situation.