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Who are Building Control and when do I need them?

When undertaking building work for the erection, extension or alteration of a building it is a legal requirement and responsibility of a home owner and/or builder to achieve compliance with the Building Regulations (2010) 'Requirements'.

The role of Building Control is to act as an independent third-party assessor to consider compliance to the 'Requirements'.

The primary function of the Building Control service is;

  • to give advice on how the requirements apply to relevant building work
  • (for a full plans application) to check the proposed plans and construction specification
  • to conduct a series of site inspections as the building work progresses.

Building Control Officers will not be present on site for the great majority of the building work and they will not act as a ‘clerk of works’, and therefore the primary responsibility for the work to comply with the requirements rests with those who commission it and those who do the work.

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The role of Building Control

Building Control acts as an independent third-party assessor throughout the design and construction phase of building work to consider compliance to ‘the Requirements’ of The Building Regulations 2010.

The main function of the service is:

  • to give advice on how the requirements apply to relevant building work  
  • to check the proposed plans and construction specification (for a Full Plans application)
  • to conduct a series of site inspections as the building work progresses  
  • to issue a completion certificate once we have been made aware the building work is complete. The certificate will only be issued when we are satisfied that the requirements of the regulations have been met.

At the start of the building work a Building Control Officer will confirm the required statutory site inspections and discuss other site inspections that may be needed. The officer will not be present on site for the majority of the building work and they will not act as a ‘clerk of works’.

It is those who commission the work and those who do the work are responsible for ensuring the work complies with the requirements.

The Building Regulations 2010

Building regulations help make sure that new buildings, conversions, renovations and extensions (domestic or commercial) are going to be safe, healthy and high-performing. 

Detailed regulations normally referred to as ‘the Requirements’ cover specific topics including structural integrity, fire protection, accessibility, energy performance, acoustic performance, protection against falls, electrical and gas safety.

They also provide standards for the performance of drains, ventilation, protection against the ingress of water and protection against contamination including methane and radon gas. 

The building regulations are defined by the English and Welsh Governments. 

Visit the LABC website for more information about building regulations

Who is responsible for complying with the Building Regulations?

The property owner or the person they instruct is responsible for complying with the Building Regulations. The Building Act 1984 imparts a duty on a person carrying out ‘relevant’ building work to comply with ‘the Requirements’ of the Building Regulations 2010. 

When do I need building regulations approval?

Most building projects (even small extensions or improvements) need to comply with the building regulations.

The best place for general advice and to find out if your project needs a building regulations application is the Local Authority Building Control Front Door website at which has a list of projects that need a building regulations application

You can also see the projects that don't need building regulations approval.  

If you're still not sure if you need building regulation approval, use our contact us form and we’ll get back to you.

What happens if I do not comply with building regulations?

The local authority needs to see that building work complies with regulations. If the work does not comply you may be asked to open up works, alter or remove it, or it could lead to a fine or prosecution. 

The Planning Portal has more information on what happens if you fail to comply with the building regulations.  

Sometimes building work has been completed without the correct procedures being followed. This can cause problems during the conveyancing process when the property is sold.

If necessary permissions haven't been gained and the building work is complete, you can apply for a Regularisation Certificate. There is a charge for this. Any non-notified work can be ‘regularised’ by the owner of the building who may not be the same owner as when the work was carried out.

The LABC website has more information about the solution if no building regulations approval has been gained

Types of Building Control applications 

  • Full Plans application 
  • Building notice notification 
  • Regularisation certificate 
  • Reversion certificate 
  • Partnership application.

Full Plans application 

You need to complete a Full Plans application if you’re doing work to a building that has common areas (internal and external parts) and other commercial buildings; for example, schools, shops, offices, factories and hotels where the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order applies.  

Before submitting your application consider the following:  

  • using an architect or agent to develop a construction drawing package including; 
  • scaled plans of floor plans and elevations 
  • a location plan showing the boundary of your site edged in red  
  • construction specification / notes
  • qualified structural engineers design package (drawings and calculations) .
  • finding out the Building Control application fee  
  • whether a Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) compliance calculation and  Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) will be required.

Apply for a Building Control Full Plans application 

To validate a Full Plans application we will need the following:

  1. A completed Full Plans application form
  2. A fee payment received
  3. One copy of existing and proposed floor plans
  4. One copy of existing and proposed elevations
  5. One copy of location plan
  6. A copy of construction specification / notes.

Once validated, a surveyor will assess your application to see if it satisfies the requirements of the building regulations.  They will discuss any observations and comments with you or your agent to try and achieve the approval or conditional approval of a construction package.   

We strongly advice that a Full Plans application is submitted well in advance of the commencement of the building work. This allows for the plan checking process to take place in a professional and robust manner which will prevent delays and costly changes onsite.   

Submit a Full Plans application (opens new tab)

Building Notice notification

A Building Notice can be more suitable for minor domestic works such as alterations and extensions. This is a simplified procedure which doesn't require a drawing or specification and doesn't involve the approving or rejecting of plans.

To deposit and validate a Building Notice the following is needed:

  • a description and location of works
  • details of the Applicant and Agent / Builder
  • fee payment to be received.

Apply for a Regularisation Certificate   

If you didn't apply for Building Regulations approval for the work before, or perhaps building work carried out by the previous owner didn't have the relevant completion certificates, you can apply for 'regularisation' – which is a retrospective approval.

We will only issue a certificate if we are happy that: 

  • the work meets the building regulations in place at the time the work took place 
  • there are no health and safety risks to persons in or around the property.  

We may need to expose the work so a surveyor can see if the work meets the regulations. We will then either:

  • let you know if you need to complete extra work to meet the regulations 
  • issue a certificate as the work meets building regulations .

Apply for a Reversion application

A Reversion application is required where an Initial Notice from an Approved Inspector has ceased to be in force and the application has to revert back to the local authority.

The relevant legislation states that if an Approved Inspector is unable to carry out their functions, either they or the person carrying out the works must cancel the Initial Notice lodged with a local authority. If work has already commenced on site, the work must by law be passed back to the local authority (in this case Plymouth City Council) to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations. 

Apply for a Partnership application 

Our Partner Authority Scheme is shared by all local authority building control teams in England and Wales. You can choose to work with any local authority building control surveyor to undertake all pre-application and design work, regardless of the project's geographical location.

The aim of the scheme is to reduce unnecessary delays by statutory procedures and where possible to speed up the process leading to Building Regulations approval. The Partner Authority Scheme achieves this by working with the inspecting Local Authority and providing professional advice to the partner company during the design stage. If this advice is acted upon a greater element of certainty exists that Building Regulation approval will follow without further changes.

When a project is placed under the scheme the Partner Authority works with the partner company at an early stage to give ongoing advice on the application of the Building Regulations to all aspects of the design.

The LABC webpage provides more information on the Partner Authority Scheme 

Competent Person Scheme

Some work can achieve Building Regulations approval if you use someone registered with the Competent Person Scheme. This removes the requirement to submit an application with a Building Control Body.

You can check if your builder or installer is registered on the Competent Persons Register.

Competent Person Schemes (CPS) were introduced by the Government to allow individuals and businesses to self-certify that their work complies with the Building Regulations as an alternative to submitting a Building Notice or using an Approved Inspector.

What is the difference between building control and planning permission?

Building Control (the Building Regulations 2010) relates to the construction of buildings and make sure that buildings are safe and meet the minimum standards in relation to health and safety. This also includes energy performance and accessibility for people with disabilities.

Planning (permission) is about the appearance of buildings, the use of land and the impact the development will have on the general environment and neighbouring properties. Planning also deals with listed buildings and conservation areas.

For many types of building work, you will need separate permissions for both. Check if you need planning permission.  

Do I need to consult my neighbour and when?

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. The act is separate from obtaining planning permission or Building Regulations approval.

The government website has information on party walls and preventing and resolving disputes.