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Building control FAQs

Is Planning and Building Control the same thing?

No, Building regulations approval is separate from Planning approvals, and you should always check whether further consents such as planning permission and/or listed building may be required.  Check whether your building is listed using our Find My Nearest page.  Information regarding planning can be found on the Planning Portal website.

What are building regulations and what do they apply to?

The Building Regulations apply to building work in England and Wales and set minimum standards for design and construction of buildings. They exist to make sure that buildings are safe and easy to access for everyone, including disabled people. They also set important standards for efficient fuel and power consumption. The building regulations will probably apply if you plan to carry out any of the following work:

  • build a new building or extend an existing building

  • make alterations that affect the means of escape in case of fire

  • make structural alterations to an existing building (including underpinning)

  • change the use of an existing building (in certain cases)

  • provide, extend or alter drainage facilities

  • fit a heat-producing appliance 

  • install cavity wall insulation

  • install an unvented hot water storage system

For further information please visit the Planning Portal website and the LABC YouTube channel.

Where can I read the Approved Documents of the Building Regulations?

Please refer to the Planning Portal website to download the Approved Documents.

What do I do if my building works will be over or near a drain or sewer?

Please refer to the Build Over Agreement booklet in the Related Documents section at the bottom of this page.

What happens if I do work without Building Regulations approval?

The council has a general duty to see that building work complies with the Regulations, except where it is formally under the control of an Approved Inspector. Where the council is controlling the work and finds after its completion that it does not comply, we may require you to alter or remove it. If you fail to do this we may serve a notice requiring you to do so and you will be liable for the costs.

If my building plans have been approved under a full plans application, is there a time limit within which I have to carry out the work?

Yes. If the work has not started within three years of the deposit of plans, or submission of a Building or Initial Notice, the application will be declared void. If you still wish to progress with the work, you will have to submit a new application. Your work must comply with any changes made to the building regulations since your last application. You will also have to pay the charge for the new application.

Do I need building regulations approval to build a detached garage?

Yes, however a single storey garage at ground level, under 30sq.m. in floor area and with no sleeping accommodation, is exempt, provided it is built substantially of non-combustible material or when built it has a clear space of 1 metre from the boundary of the property.

Do I need building regulations approval to build an extension to my house?

Yes, however, a porch or conservatory built at ground level and less than 30sq.m. in floor area is exempt provided that the glazing complies with the safety glazing requirements of the Building Regulations (Part N) and no alteration is made to your house.

Do I need building regulations approval to install replacement windows?

Yes, although the work can be self certified by a contractor registered under the Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme (FENSA). Otherwise you will need to make an application to the Building Control Service. You may also need planning permission so please check with the Planning Service.

Do I need approval to install or replace electrical wiring?

Yes, since the 1 January 2005, it is a requirement that you get a ‘Part P registered electrician’ to do the work. The electrician can self-certify the work if registered to do so otherwise you will need to make an application to the Building Control service.

  • Find a registered electrician - A register of electricians to the various CPS schemes. Please visit the Electrical Competent Persons website.

  • General guidance - For general advice, guidance and information in easy to understand formats.  Please visit the Electrical Safety First website.

What rights do my neighbours have if I carry out building work and do building regulations apply?

Building regulations do not apply.  You are advised to consult with a Party Wall Surveyor or a solicitor.  If you are planning to do work that affects, or is adjacent to a wall or fence that separates two or more properties, you should check if the Party Wall Act 1996 applies. If it does, you must notify your neighbours at least six weeks before you start the work. Building regulations are a completely separate matter from Party Wall, Act 1996.

For further information please visit the Department for Communities website.

Do I need building regulations approval to build/alter a garden or boundary wall?

Not unless the wall exceeds 2m in height. You may need planning permission, so check this with the Planning Division before you start work.

(NOTE: Building Regulations do not normally apply – controlled usually under London Building Act (Amendment) Act 1939 Section 30)

What is Japanese knotweed and how do I control it?

Please visit the Department for Environment website.

Can I look at plans relating to a property that I do not own?

No, plans deposited with a local authority under the Building Regulations are not documents which the public are entitled to inspect under the Local Government Act 1972. However, with the owners written authorisation you may be able to view the plans.

Can I see the original plans of my property?

Under copyright law, copies can only be made available with the written consent of the original author. Please see building control enquiries page.

How do I view the records relating to drainage on my property?

You must contact Building Control and arrange for them to undertake a historical search of documents. You must notify Building Control in writing, via post, E-mail or fax. Please see building control enquiries page - link on the left for further information.

Can I obtain details/information on a property via telephone?

No. You must write in via post, fax or E-mail and pay in advance.

Please see building control enquiries page.

Do you have detailed information on works as dealt with by an Approved Inspector?

We are notified of Approved Inspector applications, you must contact the relevant Approved Inspector direct for any information.

Can I obtain copy of the plans relating to my property?

Yes, providing written permission is obtained from the author of the drawings - as required by copyright laws – and payment is received in advance.

Please see building control enquiries page.

What do I need to provide to enable viewing of plans to be arranged? 

This service is only available to the owner of a property or solicitor acting the sale of the property by appointment.

Domestic properties 

Written request including confirmation that you are the owner of the property. 

Authorisation from current legal freeholder, if you wish to view plans relating to the whole building in which you have a leasehold interest.

Commercial properties

Written request which includes confirmation of ownership on company headed paper 

Authorisation from current legal freeholder, if you wish to view plans relating to the whole building in which you have a leasehold interest.

All properties

Payment per current miscellaneous fee schedule, please see building control enquiries page.

Can I obtain a copy of Building Regulation Full Plans Approval Notice?

Yes. A copy can be obtained by written request via post, E-mail or fax.  Please see building control enquiries page.

Let Thames Water know about leaks

You can report leaks directly to Thames Water by calling 0800 714 614 or via the Thames Water Website.  You can also report leaks via their Twitter account @thameswater using the hashtag #tweetaleak. 

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