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Information Regarding Building Regulations
What are Building Regulations?
The Building Regulations are a legal requirement aimed at ensuring buildings meet the minimum standards. They set out procedures to be followed and specific requirements within building design, such as health and safety for users.
The Building Regulations are always being updated and improved.
Will I need approval?
Building regulations approval is required for most new building work including extensions, restructuring work and internal structural alterations.
If you have any doubts whether you require approval, contact your local authority Building Control department.
How do I get approval?
There are two ways of getting Building Regulations approval;
This type of approval should only be considered by experienced builders.
With a building notice, your builder contacts the local authority Building Control department to advise them that they intend to commence a project. The Building Control officer will visit site and approve the work stages as they progress. Approval of stages can only be determined on site, so the pace at which the builder is able to work is governed by the frequency of the officer’s visit. Should the building work` progress beyond a stage that has not had approval, you are taking considerable RISK.
Full plans application
This involves submitting working drawings/ Specification/ Structural calculations and drawings if required/ application forms and a fee cheque to building control. A case officer will be assigned to your application. This case officer will review your application, checking that all the information provided meets with the current Building Regulations. Should the officer require further information, a schedule of items requested will be sent to the applicant/agent for clarification. Once this has been resolved within the allowed time period and sent back, the officer will write to tell you whether your application has been accepted or rejected. If your application is then rejected, the areas where it has failed will be listed, these can be addressed and resubmitted to the case officer, who will review them again.
When should I apply for approval?
Building Regulations applications should be submitted once you have received full planning permission (if applicable for your project).
How long does the approval take?
You should allow 4-6 weeks but it is wise to allow an additional 2 weeks for any design alterations if required.
How much does a Building Regulations application cost?
Your local Building Control department will have a schedule of their fees, which are available on request. If submitting a full plans application, Building Control will require the plans fee, which is either based on the type and size of extension (for example: Residential extension with internal floor area 25m2), or based on the estimated cost of works. If considering a garage conversion or loft conversion, the fee will be calculated on the estimated cost of the building work. For new dwellings, there is a set fee per dwelling proposed. Before work commences, your builder will contact the building inspectors to advise that work is about to start. After the inspector’s first visit, the applicant (usually the homeowner) will receive an invoice for the inspection fees.
What is the Building Regulations inspection process?
The building inspection officer will need to know your schedule as he/she will visit at the necessary stages to check the work complies. These stages are:-
- Commencement (start date). Try to give 7 days notice – 14 days is preferred. Most case officers will visit on the day the work commences.
- Foundation Excavations . This is one of the most important site visits, the building control officer will check that the excavations for the foundations are deep enough to support the weight of the house.
- Concreting of foundations . The officer may wish to make another visit at the pouring of concrete to check the mix is of the correct consistency and is being poured correctly.
- Concrete ground floor slab . Prior to pouring the ground floor slab, the officer will want to check you have cleared the site within the perimeter of the walls of vegetation and the damp proof membrane has been installed correctly.
- Damp proof course . The officer checks that the bricklayers have installed the DPC correctly, that it is continuous and not ripped.
- Underground drainage . The inspector will check the drain is laid to the correct falls, that the inspection chambers are installed at any bends and that the joints are made correctly.
The officer may request an air leakage tests to be done; the drain runs are sealed with bungs and a pressure gauge applied. If the pressure drops there is a leak.
- Roof Completion . The officer may want to check that the roof trusses have been correctly braced and are securely fixed to the blockwork inner leaf.
- Completion . The final inspection includes checking the windows for means of escape, compliance with fire regulations, sound insulation, glazing for safety reasons, staircase and handrails, drainage tests, ventilation, energy efficiency, disabled access, electrical safety.
A completion certificate is issued once the Building Inspector is satisfied that all stages have been completed in accordance with the Building Regulations.
Party Wall Act
What is the party wall act?
The Party Wall Act 1996 came into force in 1997, so it is now law and gives you rights and responsibilities whichever the side of the ‘wall’ you are on i.e. whether you are planning/doing work on a relevant structure or if your neighbour is.
The Party Wall Act does not affect any requirement for Planning Permission or Building Regulation Approval for any work undertaken. Likewise, having Planning Permission and/or Building Regulation Approval does not negate the requirements under the Party Wall Act.
The Party Wall Act comes into effect if someone is planning to do work on a relevant structure, for the purposes of the Act ‘party wall’ does not just mean the wall between two semi-detached properties, it covers:
- A wall forming part of only one building but which is on the boundary line between two (or more) properties.
- A wall which is common to two (or more) properties, this includes where someone built a wall and a neighbour subsequent built something butting up to it.
- A garden wall, where the wall is astride the boundary line (or butts up against it) and is used to separate the properties but is not part of any building.
- Floors and ceilings of flats etc.
- Excavation near to a neighbouring property.
As with all work affecting neighbours, it is always better to reach a friendly agreement rather than resort to any law. Even where the work requires a notice to be served, it is better to informally discuss the intended work, consider the neighbours comments, and amend your plans (if appropriate) before serving the notice.
What work can be done without notice/permission?
Under the Party Wall Act some work is not covered. Such work include:
- Putting up shelves and wall units.
- Electrical rewiring.
What work needs a notice and permission?
The general principle of the Party Wall Act is that all work which might have an effect upon the structural strength or support function of the party wall or might cause damage to the neighbouring side of the wall must be notified. If in doubt, advice should be sought from a local Building Control Office or professional surveyor/architect.
Works covered by the Party Wall Act include:
- To demolish and/or rebuild a party wall.
- To increase the height or thickness of a party wall.
- Insertion of a damp proof coarse (either chemical injection or a physical dpc).
- Cutting into the party wall to take load bearing beams.
- Underpinning a party wall.
- Excavations within 3 metres of a neighbouring building where the excavation will go below the bottom of the foundations of the neighbouring building.
- Excavations within 6 metres of a neighbouring building where the excavation will go below a line drawn 45° downwards from the bottom of the foundations of the neighbouring building.
What is required in a notice?
If the planned work to an existing structure falls under the Party Wall Act, a notice must be issued to all affected neighbouring parties. The notice must include the information in following link provided.
- The owners of the property undertaking the work.
- The address of the property.
- The names of all the owners of the adjoining property.
- A description of the proposed work, usually a single line giving a brief description.
- The proposed start date for the work.
- A clear statement that the notice is being served under The Party Wall etc Act 1996.
- The date the notice is being served.
- If the notice is for excavation work, then a drawing showing the position and depth of the excavation must be included.
The process of serving a notice under the Party Wall Act is as follows:
- The person intending to carry out the work must serve a written notice on the owners of the adjoining property at least two months before the intended start of the work to every neighbouring party giving details of the work to be carried out.
- Each neighbouring party should respond in writing giving consent or registering dissent – if a neighbouring party does nothing within 14 days of receiving the notice, the effect is to put the notice into dispute.
- No work may commence until all neighbouring parties have agreed in writing to the notice (or a revised notice).
If any of the information is missing from a served noticed, it will be invalid in which case, any subsequent award will also be invalid.
See below regarding what happens in the event of a dispute/objection.
New boundary walls
If the planned work is a new boundary wall up to or astride the boundary line, the process is similar to the above but the notice needs to be served at least one month before the planned start date of the work. Neighbouring parties must give written agreement within 14 days for walls astride the boundary (or a dispute is deemed to have occurred), however no formal agreement is needed for a wall up to the boundary line, the neighbour just needs not to object in writing.
See below regarding what happens in the event of a dispute/objection.
If the planned work is an excavation within the distance/depth covered by the Party Wall Act, the notice needs to be served at least one month before the planned start day of the work. Neighbouring parties must give written agreement within 14 days or a dispute is deemed to have occurred.
See below regarding what happens in the event of a dispute/objection.
- A Surveyor or Surveyors is/are appointed to determine a fair and impartial Award, either:
- An ‘Agreed Surveyor’ (someone acceptable to all parties).
- Each party appoints their own Surveyor to represent the individual parties.
- An ‘Agreed Surveyor’ (someone acceptable to all parties).
The first option should be cheaper as the costs should be reduced – the Surveyor (or Surveyors) will decide who pays the fees – usually it will be the party undertaking the work; the exception being where the owner of the adjoining property calls on the Surveyor unnecessarily. It should be noted that any Surveyor(s) must act within their statutory responsibilities and propose a fair and impartial Award.
- The Agreed Surveyor, or the individual Surveyors jointly, will produce an Award which must be fair and impartial to all parties.
- Once an Award has been made, all parties have 14 days to appeal to a County Court against the Award.
What happens once I have the agreement?
Once you have agreement, all work must comply with the notice. All the agreements should be retained to ensure that a record of the granted permission is kept; a subsequent purchaser of the property may wish to establish that the work was carried out in accordance with the Party Wall Act requirements.
Do I Need to Apply for Planning Permission?
You would need to apply for planning permission if the extension or the addition to your house does not meet the following limits and conditions:
[Rewording of: ‘Under new regulations that came into effect on 1 October 2008 an extension or addition to your house is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions’]
- No more than half the area of land around the “original house”* would be covered by additions or other buildings.
- No extension forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.
- No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
- Maximum depth of a single-storey rear extension of three metres beyond the rear wall for an attached house and four metres beyond the rear wall for a detached house.
- Maximum height of a single-storey rear extension of four metres.
- Maximum depth of a rear extension of more than one storey of three metres beyond the rear wall including ground floor.
- Maximum eaves height of an extension within two metres of the boundary of three metres.
- Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension no higher than existing house.
- Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house.
- Two-storey extensions no closer than seven metres to rear boundary.
- Roof pitch of extensions higher than one storey to match existing house.
- Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house.
- No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
- Upper-floor, side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor.
- On designated land* no permitted development for rear extensions of more than one storey.
- On designated land no cladding of the exterior.
- On designated land no side extensions.
- The term “original house” means the house as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date). Although you may not have built an extension to the house, a previous owner may have done so.
- Designated land includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.
How Long Does The Planning Decision Take?
A planning decision usually takes up to 8 weeks.
How much is a detailed application?
The application fees (payable to your local authority) are currently £150.00 for extensions and £335 per new house.
This type of application is simple in comparison to the detailed application. You are effectively asking the council to approve the principle of whether you could build a property on a specific plot.
The applicant submits the relevant forms together with an ordinance survey plan with a red line outlining the plot.
Most of the time, an outline application will also be accompanied by layout plans and elevations to show how the property would fit with in the site, these drawings are for illustrative purposes only to show the council the potential of the site. If you would like the local authority to consider some of the details formally, you can state this on the forms issued by the planning department.
How much is an outline application?
The fee for an outline planning application is currently £335.00 per 0.1 hectare for sites up to and including 2.5 hectares.
Approval of Reserved Matters
If you have obtained outline planning permission for your development, the next stage is to apply for approval for reserved matters. This basically means that you are seeking approval of the remaining details not specified in the outline application. You will be required to provide the planning department with details of access, appearance, finishes and any other areas not previously covered (but which would otherwise be required with a full application). As with a detailed application, you will be required to submit the relevant application forms and plans (and any other supporting information you may have), together with the application fee.
How much is an application of reserved matters?
An application for approval of reserved matters currently costs £335.00.
What other types of permission are there?
Listed Building Consent will be required together with a detailed planning application if you propose to carry out any work to a listed building.
Listed building consent will be needed to demolish a part or a whole building, or to alter or extend it in any way internally or externally which would affect its architectural or historical character.
Listed Building Consent will also be required if you are planning to erect any structures within the curtilage of the application site.
Always check with the local authority Planning Department first, it is a criminal offence to carry out any work to a listed building without consent prior to works. No additional fee is required (other than the fee to be submitted with the full plans application).
Consent will be required to demolish any building in a conservation area if it has a volume of more than 115 cubic meters, or any part of such building. Consent may also be required if you are demolishing walls, fences, railings or gates. No fees required.
Many trees have tree preservation orders (TPOs) which will mean that prior permission will be required to prune or fell a tree. Trees are often protected in conservation areas.
These exclude fruit or small decorative trees with trunks less than 100mm in diameter. Six weeks notice will be required before any work may be carried out.
Right of way
If your proposed building would obstruct a public path then consult with the local authority at an early stage. If they agree to the proposal then an order will be made to divert or extinguish the right of way. No work is to be commenced until the order has been confirmed.
If you wanted to display an advertisement larger than 0.3m sq outside your property – including house names, numbers or even ‘beware of the dog’ signs, this may need consent. If in doubt, consult your local planning authority.
Temporary notices up to 0.6m sq relating to local events may be displayed for a short period.
Estate Agent boards in general should not be larger than 0.5m sq on each side and maybe banned in conservation areas.
If your proposed plans involve disturbing roosts of bats or other protected species then the English Nature (EN), the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) or Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), whichever is appropriate must be notified.
What should I do if I get refused planning permission?
If you get refused planning permission or if you have been given permission but with conditions which you think are unreasonable; or if a decision has not been made within the nominal 8 weeks you can appeal against the local planning authority.
Before making the decision of lodging an appeal, consider modifying the scheme to suit the local planning authority. The time limit for submitting the amended scheme is generally 1 year from the refusal date, no extra planning fee is required.
Appeals take time and money and unfortunately are not always successful.
Permission is unlikely to be given for development on green-belt land or on good quality agricultural land or for access to main roads.
Planning inspectors judge appeals on their planning merit. They are unlikely to be swayed to any personal considerations.
Appeals must be lodged within 6 months of the refusal date and they must be accompanied by written representations and a visit to the site by the planning inspector. However in some cases where the appellant or the Local Planning Authority (LPA) do not agree to this procedure, then the inspector can arrange for a hearing or a local inquiry. Forms should be obtained from the planning inspectorate in England and Wales.
The appeal should consist of the relevant forms, documents and plans and they should be sent to the planning inspector with copies of all papers also sent to the Local Planning Authority.
The LPA will also send their report to the planning inspector and copies will be sent to the Appellant who can then make comments.
The planning Inspector can then contact interested people such as neighbours and the environmental groups for their comments.
When the inspector is ready a site visit is arranged, this maybe an unaccompanied visit if the site can be accessed from public land or an accompanied visit when the site is on private land.
Hearings are less formal and cheaper than a local inquiry and legal representations are not normally required.
Local inquiry if required if the LPA and appellant cannot decide on a written representation and the planning inspector decides a hearing is unsuitable.
Written statements made by the LPA and the applicant are sent to the planning inspector and to one other.
Detail of the inquiry must be posted on site and the LPA will inform local papers and anyone else likely to be interested.
Statements of representatives may be asked for from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) where the proposal involves agricultural land, or health and safety executive (HSE)
At the inquiry, anyone involved may use a lawyer or other professional to put their case. The inspector will make visits to the site alone, before the inquiry. After the inquiry the Appellant and the LPA may ask for a visit with the inspector to discuss any points raised about the site or the surroundings.
The Appellant and the LPA will normally pay there own expenses. However if there is an inquiry or hearing, the appellant can ask the LPA to pay some or all of the costs. The LPA may do likewise. The secretary of state will only agree to this if the party claiming can show that the other side behaved unreasonably and put them to unnecessary expense.
The inspector sends the decision to the appellant with copies to the LPA and anyone else entitled or who has asked for a copy. A copy is also sent to the secretary of state with a recommendation to weather or not the appeal should be allowed. The secretary of state does not have to accept the inspector’s recommendations. New evidence may put new light on the subject. In these cases, both parties will have a chance to comment before a decision is made and the inquiry may be re-opened.
The only way to appeal against the inspector’s decision is on legal grounds in the high court. This challenge must be made within 6 weeks of the date of the decision. To succeed, it must be proved that the inspectorate or the secretary of state has exceeded their powers or that proper procedures were not followed.
Still Confused about the best way forward..?
Contact us here at Design Draughting Services for some friendly advice. We would be pleased to discuss the details of your proposed development or home improvement and inform you about the permissions required. Part of our service is to liaise with the local authorities regarding your proposals and prepare all of the necessary paperwork for applications. We even submit the applications for you and deal with any queries from the planning officer on your behalf, while ensuring that you are kept informed at every stage.
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