Building Regulations exist to ensure that certain standards of Health and Safety are adhered to with regards to people in and around buildings. But it must be remembered that they do not get involved in quality of workmanship, your local building control officer will only inspect certain stages of a build to ensure it is up to current regulations, they are not obliged to tell you if they think the quality of work is that of a high or low standard.

When are Building Controls needed?

The regulations apply to all building work, but what is the definition of building work? According to ‘Durham County Council Planning Advice Booklet 2012’   building work can be defined as the following;

  • New buildings such as houses/factories
  • Extensions including loft conversions
  • Structural work (removing load bearing walls)
  • Services such as new heating, drainage etc.
  • Alterations, both structural and layout
  • Electrical works (though some exemptions apply)

If you have any queries with regards to whether you will need to inform building control, the best advice is to contact them directly and they will be able to advise you on the correct cause of action.

Starting a building application?

There are 2 types of building applications; one is a Building Notice, the other is Full Plans submission.

What is a Building Notice?

According to the Durham County Council Planning Booklet 2012 the definition of a Building Notice is as follows;

“A Building Notice submission does not require the submission of plans with the notice, other than in the case of the erection or extension of a building, in which case a block plan at a minimum scale of 1:1250 is required.

However, sometimes we require details to be submitted during the construction process. This occurs when we are unable to ensure compliance with Building Regulations without them.

Once the Notice is received and providing the fee is correct you will be issued with a Building Notice Acceptance letter. You should note that this does not in any way indicate prior approval of your proposals. Although this process may appear advantageous it has its disadvantages.”

The Building Notice application needs to be filled in by you or your agent, and submitted to Building Control. There will be a Building Notice fee, and you will receive acknowledgement and a Building Notice acceptance letter sent to you.

What is a Full Plans submission?

The definition of a Full Plans Submission according to ‘Durham County Council planning Booklet 2012

“…Full Plans Submission requires the submission of full construction drawings, details and specification of the intended scheme prior to work commencing on site. A detailed appraisal of the proposals will be carried out by the Building Control Surveyor.

You or your agent (if agent is appointed) will be sent an appraisal letter (or telephoned) which details items that require additional information, clarification or some other form of amendment.

Once you or your agent have answered the queries, a formal Notice of Approval will be issued which remains valid for three years from the date of deposit. Again, you should file this safely in your project file. You are then safe in the knowledge that providing you and your builder construct the project in accordance with those plans, and any conditions on the approval, the regulations will be satisfied. (It should be remembered however that the regulations do not cover everything).

Minor variations in construction can be agreed as work progresses, major changes may require amended details to be submitted (variations may need to be dealt with separately and differently under other legislation, e.g. planning permission).”

The Full Plans submission application needs to be submitted by you or your agent with appropriate Plan deposit fee. It will contain details of the proposed work which will be check for compliance with regulations, at this point Building Control may require more information if they are unsure or have any quires  with regard to the application. After that a decision will be reach and you will be notified of either approved, conditionally approved, or rejected.

Please be aware that this information above is just to be used only a guide and should be verified with the correct authorities. Information on how to contact Building Control Offices in County Durham, North-East England can be found in our building services directory.