Planning Permission and Building Control
It is up to you to make sure that if you are employing a builder to do your work that they understand from the beginning whether they are taking responsibility for ensuring that building work complies with the Building Regulations. Also you must find out if they are going to liaise with the Building Control Service or you, it is important to make this all clear from the outset.
If the contractor is approved to do so, in some minor works they can self-certify the work. This means you will not need to get approval directly as the contractor will notify the Building Control of the work they are doing and confirm that it has been done in accordance with the Building Regulations.
If your building work actually requires Planning Permission you should make sure you find out who is taking the responsibility of obtaining it. This could be you, your builder or even your designer.
There are however, some types of building projects that may also be subject to other types of statutory requirements and consents so you should make sure that you bear this in mind.
Building Regulations Approval, Do I Need It?
The following types of projects would normally seek approval of the work from a Building Control Body:-
1. The erection of a building
2. An extension of a building
3. An alteration project which involves work that will temporarily or permanently affect the already approved structure, you will normally need to make sure that the new alterations still complies with the same Building Regulations.
4. The installation of replacement windows whereby the builder or window company is not registered with the relevant Competent Person Schemes.
5. The extension or installing of a service or fitting which comes under the regulations.
6. Insulation being inserted into cavity walls
7. When the foundations to a building requires underpinning
8. If the buildings fundamental use is changing
If the builder or installer, self-certify you will not need to involve a Building Control Service.
This only covers specific types of installations and not any other type of building work.
The building work must meet the current relevant technical requirements in the Building Regulations and must not make any other services, fabrics and fittings dangerous or any less compliant than they were before. Double glazed windows must still have means of escape and certain appliances that are combustion in origin must have air supply for ventilation in flues for health reasons.
You may need regulations for changes of use in existing buildings. The change in use of an existing building may result in the building as a whole not now complying with the requirements which will apply to its new type of use. This may mean having to up-grade to meet additional requirements specified in the regulations for which building work may be needed.
Failure to Comply With Building Regulations.
By not following the building control procedures that are set out for handling your building project or you carry out building work which does not comply with the requirements contained in the Building Regulations you will have gone against them.
Fines and Enforcement Notices.
Local authorities have a duty to make sure the Building Regulations in its area are adhered to and will seek to enforce this by informal means wherever possible.
If you have an approved inspector providing the Building Control Service, then the responsibility for making sure that Building Regulations are complied with is theirs. They will in turn advise you of anything that your project will need to adhere to in the Building Regulations. These approved inspectors do not have the power to actually enforce this but if your building work does not comply with the Building Regulations they will not issue you with a final certificate and in addition will cancel the initial notice by notifying your local authority.
If you don’t get another approved inspector to take on your work, the Building Control Service will automatically be taken on by your local authority. Your local authority will then have the power to enforce you to comply with the Building Regulations and there could be a possibility that you might have to alter your work if necessary.
If a person carrying out the work fails to comply with the Building Regulations, you may be taken to court by the local authorities where you could be fined up to £5000 and up to £50 a day for every day that still continues to fail to comply with the regulations after conviction. This action will normally be taken against the builder or main contractor who is doing the work and proceedings must be taken within two years from the completion of work.
However, the local authority can serve and enforcement notice on the owner making them alter or remove work that does not comply with the regulations. If the owner does not take heed of this notice then the local authority will be within their right to undertake the work themselves and recover all costs from the owner.
If twelve months has passed from completion of works, then the enforcement act cannot be served. This does not affect the right for the local authority to apply for an injunction in the courts for the same purpose. If your plans have been approved by the local authority or have failed to be rejected within the statutory time of five weeks, then the local authority cannot take enforcement action as long as the work has been carried out in accordance with your plans.
The Effects of Selling the Property.
If you are thinking of selling your property and it has failed to comply with the Building Regulations it may come to light when a land search inquiry is done. Apart from having enforcement action taken against you by not complying or rectifying your works on your project, you will also not receive a completion certificate of works from your local authority so it will probably be difficult to sell it.