What are Building Control Drawings?
‘Building Control drawings’ (also known as ‘Building Regulations’ drawings) are prepared by architects in order to ensure that the development/project they pertain to meets certain legally-recognised standards that apply to all buildings.
Building Control drawings are more technically-oriented and detailed than Planning drawings (to read more on Planning drawings, click here à [Link to more detailed Blog page relating to Planning Services].
Ultimately, they aim of Building Regulations is to protect people’s health and safety in the built environment by establishing a set of professionally acknowledged and enforceable criteria.
A series of Approved Documents covering the technical aspects of construction work comprise the Building Regulations referred to above and consist of:
- Part A – Structure
- Part B – Fire Safety
- Part C – Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture
- Part D – Toxic Substances
- Part E – Resistance to the passage of sound
- Part F – Ventilation
- Part G – Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency
- Part H – Drainage and Waste Disposal
- Part J – Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems
- Part K – Protection from falling, collision and impact
- Part L – Conservation of fuel and power
- Part M – Access to and use of buildings
- Part N – Glazing Safety (Withdrawn)
- Part P – Electrical Safety
- Part Q – Security
- Part R – Physical infrastructure for high-speed electronic communications networks.
- Regulation 7 – Materials and workmanship
The above apply to the majority of new builds and many alterations to existing buildings. Your Building Control drawings serve to demonstrate your development’s compliance with these and your architect should ensure that the Building Control drawings they are producing adhere to the technical legislation contained in Building Regulations Approved Documents.
Building Control drawings themselves should capture and clearly illustrate many of the technical aspects of the project relating to construction methods, intricate construction details, calculations, specifications, dimensions & other measurements, etc, in order to prove that your proposed works are in full compliance with all the relevant Building Regulations.
Another purpose of these drawings is to enable a construction (Sub-)Contractor to accurately price the scope of works they are responsible for; they can include plans for different elements of works such as electrical, mechanical, drainage, demolition, fire safety, etc. These designs are typically assessed, and the following works quoted for, by different parties.
Who Needs Building Control Drawings?
Most structural work, whether for new houses or flats, alterations, extensions or change of use, requires Building Regulations approval.
Building Control Drawings to apply for Building Regulations approval are required if your proposed project(s) fall(s) under one or more of the following:
- All new buildings except agricultural buildings.
- Garages, other than detached garages, that are under 15sqm; or under 30sqm and either at least 1m from a boundary or built from non-combustible materials.
- All extensions to buildings regardless of how big or small.
- Loft conversions, roof extensions, balconies and roof terraces.
- Basement extensions.
- All garage conversions regardless of how big or small.
- Barn conversions.
- Flat conversions (subdividing a dwelling into a number of flats).
- Converting flats back into a house.
- Structural alterations including works to load-bearing walls.
- Alterations including works to non-bearing walls if it separates a room from hall, staircase or landing.
You may also require Building Regulations approval if your project involves:
- Replacing fuse boxes and connected electrics
- Installing a bathroom that will involve plumbing
- Changing electrics near a bath or shower
- Installing a fixed air-conditioning system
- Replacing windows and doors
- Replacing roof coverings on pitched and flat roofs even if this is just like for like
- Installing or replacing a heating system
- Adding extra radiators to a heating system
You do not need Building Regulations approval for some exempt projects, including:
- Most repairs, replacements and maintenance work (except heating systems, oil tanks, fuse boxes and glazing units).
- New power and lighting points, or changes to existing circuits (except around baths and showers).
- Like-for-like replacements of baths, toilets, basins and sinks.
- Additional power or lighting points and switches (except around baths and showers).
- Boundary or garden walls, fences and gates.
- Some types of building work can also be self-certified through the government’s Competent Person Scheme (CPS), as an alternative to getting Building Regulations approval by a Building Control body.
The Application Process – A Summary
Below are the general key stages typically comprising the Building Control approval application process:
Choose a Building Control Body (Local Council vs. Approved Private Surveyor):
You can choose the building control provider that best fits your needs – most people use the not-for-profit service offered by their local council.
As an alternative to gaining approval from local authorities, the government has introduced legislation to allow private Approved Inspectors to check work requiring Building Regulations approval.
If you use an Approved Inspector instead of the local authority Building Control service, then your Approved Inspector should submit an ‘Initial Notice’ to the local authority prior to work commencing on site. Once submitted, your local authority will check the details of the Initial Notice within 5 working days.
All local authority building control teams in England and Wales work as part of the local authority building control (LABC) network.
Full Plans Building Control Application vs. Building Notification:
There are two ways you can make a Building Regulations application, either by making a Full Plans Building Control application or by submitting a Building Notice notification.
A Full Plans application will consist of detailed Building Regulations plans and full specifications of the construction details together with the appropriate fee. The detailed drawings are submitted prior to construction start and should outline the technical legislation that your project meets.
For simple work to a domestic building, you could submit a Building Notification.
This doesn’t generally require the submission of detailed Building Regulations plans or full specifications of the construction details.
The trade-off is that this form of approval does not offer the protection and reassurance that a Full Plans application would give you.
When applying using the Full Plans route and the application is rejected, then there is also an opportunity to apply for determination (appeal), which is not possible with a building notice application.
a) Full Plans application: For the majority of these applications the building control team will check and ‘approve’ the plans before work starts. You’ll need to submit all drawings, specifications and, where necessary, calculations for structure, thermal, water consumption and so on. Submitting this type of application reduces the risk of contravening the regulations and helps avoid costly delays.
In the event of submitting a Full Plans Building Control Application, you’ll need to include all drawings, specifications and, where necessary, calculations for structure, thermal, water consumption and so on, within your submission.
Submission of an application to your Local Authority Building Control body can be done via the web portal for the Building Control Application Service, found here: https://buildingcontrol.planningportal.co.uk/
For guidance on submitting an application to an approved Private Surveyor, please consult the Construction Industry Council’s website, found here: https://www.cicair.org.uk/
If, for whatever reason, the Building Control department or an approved inspector decides your project does not meet the regulatory requirements, then your plans can be amended before starting the build.
A Full Plans approval will remain valid for three years from the date that the plans were deposited. If the application has lapsed before you begin work then you must reapply in line with the up-to-date Building Regulations.
b) Building Notice: The application is ‘accepted’ when the building regulations have been met on site. However there is a risk with this option as no plans are required and work carried out may need altering or upgrading to meet requirements.
Building notice applications can be accepted as quickly as two days after application. The building works can begin once the notice has been accepted. The building notice is also valid for three years, but from the date that the notice was given. Once the works have started on site, the notice lasts indefinitely.
Building Control Surveyor Visits
Following commencement of the building works, the Building Control Surveyor will visit the development on occasion to check that certain elements are built to regulatory standard.
These can include:
- Ground and floors.
- Damp proofing.
- Roof structure.
- Structural beams and openings.
- Fire proofing.
- Thermal insulation.
The Surveyor’s final visit (or ‘completion visit’) will serve to verify that the building works meet the various building regulations before the development is occupied and put into use.
Once the surveyor is satisfied with the work they’ll issue you with a completion certificate, free of charge. This is an important document used by solicitors/personal search agents when you come to sell the property, and by mortgage lenders and property insurers.
There isn’t a standard nationwide fee structure for Building Regulations approval. Each council or private inspector can charge a different amount. Below are some examples of fees charged (during 2020) just to give you a general sense.
The London Borough of Redbridge charges £850 for either Full Plans Building Control application or a building notice for a single new-build house. For an extension between 20 and 60 sqm, you’ll pay £795. For that single house, Bury Council, meanwhile, will charge £273 (including VAT) for checking your plans and £390 for an inspection (that’s £663 together) or £795.60 if you choose the building notice route. For a 40 sqm to 80 sqm extension, they will charge £240 (plans) and £360 (inspection) – £600 in total – or £720 for building notice.
Planning Permission Application vs Building Regulations Application:
Effectively, a Planning Permission application is a request for approval to carry out a proposed development.
On the other hand, a building regulations application is for seeking to have the details of your development checked and approved for compliance with the standards of construction.
They are requirements for separate pieces of legislation and whether either (or both) are required is context-dependent; one does not grant consent for the other!
Ana Sidorova – Building Control Application Services:
Putting together a full set of Building Regulations approval drawings requires knowledge of the regulations and the approved documents.
Please use the link below to see Ana’s summary of the above, including a section dedicated to the services Sidorova Design can provide pertaining to the Building Control application process:
[Link to the SALES summary for Building Control Services].