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;

Building Notice

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.
  • Replastering.
  • 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.

What happens if a dispute arises?
If agreement cannot be reached between neighbouring parties, the process is as follows:

  • 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.

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.