Building control FAQs

First, do you need planning permission? Call the planning duty officer on 0208 753 3440 or email planning@lbhf.gov.uk for planning advice before you start any building work.

1. Do I need building regulations approval for my project?

The following works don't require building regulations approval. However, you may need planning permission - call the planning duty officer on 0208 753 3440 for advice.

  • Small detached buildings of less than 15 sq.m containing no sleeping accommodation - such as a garden shed or summerhouse.
  • Conservatories at ground level less than 30 sq.m where at least 3/4 of the roof and of the external walls are glazed and the glazing satisfies the safety glazing requirements set out in Part N.
  • Car ports less than 30 sq.m in floor area with at least two open sides.
  • Detached buildings such as a garage of less than 30 sq.m that contains no sleeping accommodation and is either more than one metre from the boundary or is constructed substantially of non combustible materials (i.e. brick or concrete walls).
  • Greenhouses, as long as they are not used for any business purposes.
  • A building which is not intended to remain in the place where it is erected, for a period of more than 28 days.

If you are unsure if the works need building regulations approval, please call the building control duty officer on 0208 753 3387.

2. If I want to build, or alter, a garden wall or boundary wall, will the building regulations apply?

No - Fences, walls and gates do not require building regulation approval. Although building regulations do not apply, the structures must be structurally sound and maintained.

If the garden wall is classed as a 'party fence wall' and depending on the type of building work you intend to carry out, you must notify the adjoining owner of the work in light of the Party Walls Act etc 1996. See https://www.gov.uk/guidance/party-wall-etc-act-1996-guidance

3. If I want to build a detached garage under 30m2 in floor area, will the building regulations apply?

No - the building will be exempt from the regulations but only providing it is:

  • under 30m2 in floor area.
  • single storey and does not contain any sleeping accommodation; and provided either.
  • it is built substantially of non-combustible material or;
  • when built, it is no less than one metre from the boundary of the property.

4. If I want to build a garage extension onto my home, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - but a carport extension, open on at least two sides, and under 30m2 in floor area, is exempt. You should ensure that a carport does not interfere with the proper working of a low-level flue outlet from an oil or gas appliance (guidance on the location of flues can be found in Approved Document J).

5. If I want to build a new home of any type (i.e. a house, bungalow, maisonette or a block of flats) or any other type of new building, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - for a new building, all the relevant requirements in the regulations will apply in full.

6. If I want to build an extension to my home, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - building regulations will generally apply if you want to build an extension to your home.

However, conservatories are normally exempt from building regulations when:

  • they are built at ground level and are less than 30 square metres in floor area
  • the conservatory is separated from the house by external quality walls, doors or windows
  • there should be an independent heating system with separate temperature and on/off controls
  • glazing and any fixed electrical installations comply with the applicable building regulations requirements.

We advise you not to construct conservatories where they will restrict ladder access to windows serving rooms in roof or loft conversions, particularly if any of the windows are intended to help escape or rescue if there is a fire.

Any new structural opening between the conservatory and the existing house will require building regulations approval, even if the conservatory itself is an exempt structure.

Building a porch at ground level and under 30 square metres in floor area is normally exempt from the need for building regulation approval.

For a porch to be exempt from building regulations approval:

  • the front entrance door between the existing house and the new porch must remain in place
  • if the house has ramped or level access for disabled people, the porch must not adversely affect access.

You may need planning permission. Contact the planning duty officer on 0208 753 3440 or email dutyplanner@lbhf.gov.uk for planning advice before starting work.

7. What do I have to do to make my building conform to the Equality Act 2010?

Since October 1999, the Disability Discrimination Act, (and since October 2010 the Equality Act, its successor,) requires that building owners remove or alter their buildings of any 'architectural barriers' that may prevent a Disabled person from visiting, shopping or working within the building.

An existing building that does not have access facilities may be considered to be discriminatory. However, since 1985 all new buildings to which the public have had admission should have incorporated the facilities specified in the Part 'M' of the Building Regulations which covers access and facilities for Disabled people, and therefore will be exempt from access litigation. The exemption is only valid for 10 years.

8. If I want to convert my home into a shop or office, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - The regulations define converting a home into a shop as a 'material change of use' and specify the requirements with which, as a result of that change of use, the building, or the relevant part of the building, must comply. The specific requirements include those about escape and other fire precautions, hygiene, energy conservation, and access to and use of buildings. The building may therefore need to be upgraded to make it comply with the requirements.

9. If I want to convert my house into flats, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - The regulations define this as a 'material change of use', and specify the requirements which, as a result of that change of use, the whole or part of a building must comply (e.g. those concerned with escape and other fire precautions, hygiene, sound-insulation and conservation of energy). The whole or part of the building may therefore need to be upgraded.

10. If I want to convert part, or all of my shop, office or any other type of non-domestic building into a flat, or any other type of home, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - The regulations define this as a 'material change of use', and specify the requirements with which, as a result of that change of use, the whole or part of the building must comply (e.g. those concerned with escape and other fire precautions, hygiene, sound insulation, and conservation of energy). The whole, or at least part, of the building may therefore need to be upgraded to make it comply with the specified requirements.

11. What are the required dimensions of a unisex toilet to comply with the building regulations?

Part 'M' (Diagram 18 - Page 55) of the building regulations (access and facilities for Disabled people) says the dimensions for a unisex toilet should be 1.5m x 2.2m.

Normally in a rectangular formation with the door swing out into a corridor or other open space. This type of toilet does not require a lobby, unlike the usual office, shop and restaurant premises.

12. If I want to install a fixed, flueless, gas appliance such as a cooker or fire, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - But if you employ a Gas Safe registered installer, with the relevant competencies to carry out the work, you will not need to involve the building control department. For further information on Gas Safe please visit the website www.gassaferegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500

The installer should follow the appliance manufacturer's instructions, or take other steps such as following the guidance in 'Installation and Maintenance of Flues and Ventilation for Gas Appliances (etc)'(BS 5440), so that adequate means of ventilation is available for dispersing the water vapour produced by the appliance to the outside air.

The Health and Safety Executive provides two free leaflets on the hazards of domestic combustion appliances and how these can be safely managed:

If you have any concerns about the safety of your gas installations contact Gas Safe via the above links. The HSE can be contacted on 0845 345 0055.

13. If I want to put up a greenhouse, or a small detached building, such as a garden shed or summerhouse in my garden, will the building regulations apply?

No - These buildings will be exempt from the regulations, but only providing the building is fully covered by the definitions and conditions given in Schedule 2 of the building regulation charges.

14. If I want to install, alter or replace my shop front, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - because of the likely affect on the structure, escape, other fire precautions, access and facilities for Disabled people, this type of project is likely to be regarded as a 'material alteration', and therefore 'building work'. The appropriate requirements will be applied so as to ensure, for example, that these aspects are addressed together with others such as the safety of the glazing. However, shop display windows do not have to comply with the energy efficiency requirements.

15. If I want to install fittings such as a WC, shower, washbasin, or kitchen sink within my home, or any other type of building, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - If a bathroom or kitchen is to be provided in a room where there wasn't one before, building regulations approval is required to ensure that the room will have adequate ventilation and drainage, and meet requirements in respect of structural stability, electrical and fire safety.

No - Work to refit an existing kitchen or bathroom with new units and fittings may not require building regulations if this does not involve extension to a drainage stack or underground drain, although the electrical works that form part of the refit will require approval under the building regulations.

You may use an installer registered as a competent person which may result in not needing to apply to building control. See www.gov.uk/building-regulations-competent-person-schemes

16. If I want to install or replace electric wiring, will the building regulations apply?

All electrical work carried out in homes, must be notified to a building control body to ensure that they comply with part P of the building regulations.

17. If I want to install or replace a hot water cylinder, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - If you are installing or replacing a hot water cylinder within an unvented hot water storage system, i.e. a system supplied directly from the water mains with no open-ended pipe for venting and with a storage capacity greater than 15 litres. The requirements are for hot water to be safely stored under pressure and for the installation to be energy efficient. The cylinder should be installed by a person competent to do so.

Yes - If you are installing or replacing a hot water cylinder within a vented hot water storage system, i.e. a system fed from an open-ended pipe for venting.

For either type of system your installer should leave you with a completed installation record and commissioning certificate such as the one produced by the Benchmark scheme. Some manufacturers attach Benchmark certificates to cylinders ready for installers to complete.

If you use an installer registered as a competent person, this would result in not needing to apply to building control.

18. If I want to install or replace an oil, or liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tank (and/or connecting pipe work) outside my home, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - If the installation is above ground, the requirements will be applied, to achieve adequate shielding of the tank from any surrounding fire and, in the case of an oil tank, containment of oil leakages so that ground water is not contaminated. Where new oil connecting pipe work is proposed, a fire valve will be needed at the point where the pipe enters the building.

If you employ an installer registered with a competent person scheme to carry out the work you will not need to involve the building control department.

19. If I want to install, replace, or alter the position of any type of fuel burning appliance (including a gas boiler with a flue), will the building regulations apply?

All gas appliances: Yes - If you are having a boiler installed, your installer should leave you with a completed installation record; a commissioning certificate such as the one produced by the BENCHMARK scheme; and a user instruction manual. All works on gas appliances should be carried out by a registered gas safe engineer. To contact the Gas Safe Register (GSR) by telephone 0800 408 5500.

Solid fuel appliances: Yes - The fuel burning appliance installer should provide you with information about the safety performance limits of the installation and should also fix a notice plate in a place where it will be readily seen - e.g. adjacent to the mains water stop cock or adjacent to the electricity consumer unit. If you employ an installer registered with a competent person scheme to carry out the work you will not need to involve the building control department.

20. If I want to insert insulation into a cavity wall, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - The regulations specifically define this as 'building work'. If you employ an installer registered with a competent person scheme to carry out the work you will not need to involve the building control department.

21. If I want to carry out internal alterations within my home, or any other type of building, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - very likely. The regulations specify what forms of alteration amount to 'material alterations', and are therefore 'building work', taking account of the potential for the proposed work to adversely affect compliance of the building with specific requirements. On this basis the regulations are very likely to apply if your project will involve alterations to the structure of the building (e.g. the removal or part removal of a load bearing wall, joist, beam or chimney breast), will affect escape, or other fire precautions, either inside or outside the building; or will affect access or facilities for Disabled people. On the assumption that the regulations do apply, all the work involved in the alteration must comply with all the appropriate requirements.

22. If I want to carry out a loft conversion to my home, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - The relevant requirements of the regulations will be applied so as to ensure, for example;

  • the structural strength of the proposed floor is sufficient
  • the stability of the structure (including the roof) is not endangered
  • safe escape from fire
  • and safely designed stairs to the new floor.

23. My neighbour is building an extension/carrying out building work next door and it is affecting my property. Can you sort out the problem for me?

Building regulations do not cover damage to a neighbour's property as a result of building work. This is the responsibility of the owner and builder at the property undertaking the building work.

Certain kinds of work to a property may be covered by The Party Wall etc. Act 1996

A wall is a 'party wall' if it stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners. This is a separate piece of legislation with different requirements to the building regulations.

See party wall guidance on the GOV.UK website.

If you are thinking of engaging a party wall surveyor, you may wish to contact RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) for advice 0207 222 7000.

24. If I want to lay new drains and/or install a septic tank, within the boundary of my property, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - they will apply to new rainwater or foul drains inside, as well as outside the building.

The building regulations also apply to all non-mains foul sewerage arrangements (i.e. those using septic tanks), including their outlets and drainage fields. If you employ an installer registered with an approved competent persons scheme, you may not need to involve the building control department.

25. If I want to carry out repairs to my home, or any other type of building, will the building regulations apply?

No - If the repairs are of a minor nature: e.g. re-pointing brickwork, replacing broken tiles or replacing floorboards.

Yes - If the repair work is more significant, e.g. removing a substantial part of a wall and rebuilding it, re-roofing, underpinning a building, or installing a new flue or flue liner.

Where 25 per cent or more of an external wall is re-rendered, re-clad, re-plastered or re-lined internally or where 25 per cent or more of the external leaf of a wall is rebuilt, the regulations would normally apply and the thermal insulation would normally have to be improved.

If you are replacing/ repairing more than 25% per cent of the roof area, in which case, the roof thermal insulation would normally have to be improved.

26. If I want to replace one or more windows in my home, or any other type of building, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - if you are replacing the whole of the fixed frame and opening parts.

Since 1 April 2002, building regulations have applied to all replacement glazing. The regulations apply to thermal performance and other areas such as safety, air supply, means of escape and ventilation.

An external window or door is a 'controlled fitting' under the Building Regulations and as a result of this classification these regulations set out certain standards to be met when such a window or door is replaced.

You could use an installer registered with a competent person scheme (BSI, CERTASS or FENSA). A registered installer will be approved to carry out the work to comply with building regulations without involving local authority building control.

When work is complete, you will receive a certificate showing the work was done by a registered installer. More information about Competent Person Schemes.

Alternatively, you could use an unregistered installer or DIY, in which case you'll need building control approval.

No - if the work amounts to no more than, for example, replacing broken glass, replacing fogged double-glazing units, replacing some rotten sashes (i.e. opening parts) in the main window frame, or replacing some rotten sections of the main frame members.

If your building is listed nationally or locally in some way, for its architectural or historic interest and/or is located in a sensitive urban or rural environment (e.g. a Conservation Area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), you should note that English Heritage have produced an interim guidance note on the application of part L ('Conservation of fuel and power') of the building regulations. The note offers advice on how to balance the needs for energy conservation with those of building conservation.

You may require planning permission and you are advised to contact the planning duty officer on 0208 753 3440 or email dutyplanner@lbhf.gov.uk for planning advice before commencing any building work.

27. If I want to underpin all, or part of the foundations to my building, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - the regulations specifically define this as 'building work'. The requirements will be applied so as to ensure that the underpinning will stabilise the movement of the building. Particular regard will need to be given to the effect on any sewers and drains near the work.

28. What will happen if my premises and services do not comply with Part 3 of the Equality Act 2010?

If a Disabled person feels that they are being discriminated against by not receiving a service or access to building by reason of their disability, they may contact the Disability Discrimination Commission who may be able to assist as to the best course of action to take.

There is no case-law at present on this aspect of the Equality Act but, there are many successful cases under the employment and lack of service provision under disability discrimination legislation so there is no reason to suppose that litigation will not arise.

29. If I want to alter in any way the construction of fireplaces, hearths or flues, or to repair them in any way that could affect their safe operation and containment of heat, will the building regulations apply?

Yes - If the work involves the provision of a new or replacement flue or flue liner, or the provision of a new or replacement hearth, fireplace or chimney. If you employ an installer registered with a competent person scheme to carry out the work you will not need to involve us.

No - If the work amounts to no more than alterations to fireplaces, hearths, flues and chimneys it may not be subject to the building regulations. However, this type of work should always take account of the guidance in Approved Document J (combustion appliances and fuel storage systems). It is vital that the flue should operate efficiently, and that risks of the building catching fire, or of people suffering burns should be minimised.

Current guidance in Approved Document J calls for the provision of a carbon monoxide detector in rooms with new solid fuel appliances.

30. Am I required to consult my neighbours about my proposed building work?

No - Generally there are no requirements in the building regulations to consult your neighbours, but it may be sensible to do so.

In any event, you should be careful that your proposed building work does not interfere with their property, as this could lead to bad feeling, and possibly civil action for the modification or removal of the work. For example, your work may comply with the building regulations, but could result in the obstruction or malfunctioning of your neighbour's boiler flue.

You should also check your boundary lines and that there are no deeds of covenant which may prevent you carrying out certain types of building work close to, or directly adjoining, your neighbour's property.

Although consultation with your neighbours is not normally required under the building regulations, you should note that if your project is subject to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 you must give notice to adjoining owners under that act. For a free copy of an explanatory booklet on the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 please download the Party Wall Act 1996 Booklet.