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Frequently Asked Questions

Planning permission relates to the siting, design, size, height and bulk of a development and its impact on neighbouring properties and the surrounding area.

Applications for planning permission are assessed against national and local planning policies.

To contact the planning departments of any of our three local authorities please use the links below:

Building regulations relate to the actual construction of the work. They are there to make sure, by inspection and approval, that work is safe, healthy, minimises heat loss and takes account of disabled access.

Building regulations apply to most new buildings and certain alterations. They can also apply when the use of a building is changed. In general, most building work needs formal approval.

As well as building regulations you may also need planning permission so make sure you check with your local planning department first.

Types of work that need approval
  • erection of a new building
  • re-erection of an existing building
  • extension of a building
  • material alteration or change of use of a building
  • installation, alteration or extension of a controlled service or fitting to a building - for example a new boiler or new external window.
Examples
  • home extensions such as for a kitchen, bedroom, lounge or loft conversions
  • internal structural alterations, such as the removal of a load-bearing wall or partition
  • installation of baths, showers, WCs which involve new drainage or waste plumbing
  • installation of new heating appliances
  • new chimneys or flues
  • underpinning of foundations
  • alterations that affect the building's means of escape or fire precautions
  • altered openings for new windows in roofs or walls
  • repairing or replacing more than 25% of the surface area of a roof
  • installation of cavity wall insulation
  • erection of new buildings that are not exempt from building regulations
  • access improvements for disabled people
  • replacement windows and doors
  • electric installations such as installing a new consumer unit or a new electric shower unit. 

We regularly write individual project blogs here. They cover everything from garage conversions and internal alterations to bathroom electrics and how to create office space in your home.

Or take a look at our Homeowner Guides below. These cover a huge range of projects from extension and conversions to replacing boilers, windows and more.  They also contain useful advice about employing construction professionals and tradespeople.  

A Guide to Extending your Home

A Guide to Renovating your Home

A Guide to Building your New Home

Read more on our website page here or watch this short video from LABC here

Building Notice Application

This type of application is mainly used for smaller domestic works such as

  • underpinning, internal alterations or reroofing
  • you don't usually need to submit detailed drawings*.

* If you decide to use a Building Notice for work such as a conversion or extension, a location plan will be needed at a scale of no less than 1:1250. You can buy a location plan here.

* If you are putting in an internal steel beam you will need to include structural calculations from a structural engineer with your Building Notice application. This is so we can check they are compliant before you start work. Please allow 10 working days for calculations to be checked.

If your project is being built within 3m of a public sewer you can't use a Building Notice application, unless you already have a “Build Over Agreement” from the water authority.  In this case you will need to submit a Full Plans Application.

What happens after submission?

Once you have submitted your Building Notice and the correct fee, you can start work after 48 hours unless you have submitted calculations for us to check, in which case please allow up to 10 days for these to be checked.  (Any work started would be at your own risk until we have checked the calculations for compliance and approved them.)

We also send you a Building Notice Acknowledgement for your records. Once work starts you will need to contact us to make regular site inspections. Find out how to do this here.

Full Plans Application

This type of application is usually submitted by an agent or architect. We would normally recommend this route for extensions and conversions and it must be used for any commercial building or a building which has common areas - such as a block of flats or that is subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

What you need to submit with your application

  • existing and proposed floor plans and elevations
  • a location plan at a scale of no less than 1:1250. You can buy a location plan here.
  • construction specifications/notes
  • structural calculations

Why use this type of application?

A Full Plans application means contractors can quote for your project more accurately and your builder will be working on site with a set of approved plans. (Otherwise they are solely reliant on their knowledge of the building regulations.) 

What happens after submission?

  • One of our building control surveyors will carry out a detailed check of your application and any attachments and request any additional information if it is needed. (We carry out our plan check within 10 working days.)
  • Once compliance has been achieved we issue an approval notice and you can start work. (If you chose to start work before this point, it will be at your own risk.)  The approval remains valid for three years from the date your application and plan fee were deposited with us.
  • Minor variations in construction can be agreed as work progresses, however major changes may require amended plans and further details to be submitted.
  • Once work starts you will need to contact us to make regular site inspections. Find out how to do this here.

 

The fee payable for your building regulations application will depend on the type of work you are carrying out. The total fee for a full plans or building notice is the same, however the fees are paid at different times.

  • full plans application fees are split into two payments with approximately one third paid with the submission of the application and the balance invoiced to you following your first site inspection
  • with a building notice the whole fee is paid on submission.

This is because with a full plans application we will spend time checking your plans for compliance with the current regulations and liaising with any other consultees, such as a structural engineer or the fire brigade before work starts on site.

With a building notice we will normally need to carry out more site inspections, ensuring that each stage of the build is compliant with the building regulations.

Our fee tables are broken down as follows:

Table A New domestic dwellings
Table B Extensions, conversions and detached garages
Table C Internal alterations, replacement windows, doors and roofs and other alterations
Table D Non-domestic work
Table E Non-domestic work

If your work does not fit into our standard fee tables here please contact us using our fee quote form and we will get back to you within 2 working days.

We would recommend you get at least three quotes before you decide which builder to use. Read our blog here which gives suggestions for some useful questions to ask.

Building Control has no involvement in the Party Wall Act. If you are proposing to start work covered under the Party Wall Act, as the property owner, you must give adjoining owners notice of your plans.  They can then agree or disagree with your proposal and if they disagree the Act provides a way to resolve disputes.

The Party Wall Act is separate from planning permission or building regulations.  You can read more about the Act here or you can contact a Party Wall Surveyor by visiting the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors website here.

This may be included as part of a site investigation for planning permission purposes. It can include intrusive work such as sampling, trail pits and boreholes.

Surveys are carried out by geotechnical engineers/engineering geologists.  Visit their website here for a list of members.

Competent Person Schemes were introduced by the Government to allow individuals and enterprises to self-certify their work complies with the building regulations without having to submit a building notice and incur a charge.

An installer registered with a Competent Person Scheme should notify the local authority building control team of the work and issue you with a certificate of compliance under the building regulations either directly or through their scheme operator.

If you don't receive your certificate

If you don't receive your certificate within 30 days of completion, contact the Competent Person Scheme operator that your installer is registered with and they may be able to help you resolve the matter.

If you don't use a registered installer

If you don't use an installer registered with a Competent Person Scheme you will need to submit a building notice and pay a fee so that we can arrange inspection of the work for you.

To find a registered installer

To find an installer registered with a Competent Person Scheme in your area or check that your chosen installer is with a scheme visit www.competentperson.co.uk and enter your postcode or the name of the installer in the relevant search box.

Copy certificates

If you need to find a copy certificate for Competent Person Scheme work carried out to your property you will need to know the name of the scheme they belong to, such as FENSA, NICEIC, when and who carried out the work. You should then contact their Competent Person Scheme governing body and request a copy certificate. 

Types of work covered by Competent Person Schemes

  • Any electrical installation work in dwellings
  • Electrical installation work only in association with other work (e.g. kitchen installations, boiler installations)
  • Replacement windows, doors, roof windows, or roof lights in dwellings
  • Installation of plumbing and water supply systems and bathrooms and sanitary ware
  • Replacement of roof coverings on pitched and flat roofs (not including solar panels)
  • Installation of cavity wall insulation
  • Installation of solid wall insulation
  • Installation of fixed air conditioning or mechanical ventilation systems
  • Installation of microgeneration or renewable technologies

The Government introduced electrical safety rules (Part P rules) into the building regulations for England and Wales in 2005. Part P says that anyone carrying out electrical work in a home must ensure their work is designed and installed to protect people from fire and electric shocks. Part P qualified electricians are able to carry out and self-certify this type of work so that a separate building regulations application doesn't have to be made.

For example if you are adding an extension to your property or a new bathroom, the electrical work within them will need to be carried out by a Part P certified electrician.

What type of work does Part P apply to?

  • additions or alterations to existing circuits in special locations*
  • replacement of a consumer unit
  • installation of a new circuit
  • rewires

Find out more about special locations and where Part P applies here or see further information on our webpage here.

 

If you are planning to install a domestic solid fuel, wood or biomass stove, either in an existing chimney or with a new flue, you will need building regulations approval.

There are two ways to do this:

  • by using an installer registered under a Competent Person Scheme, such as HETAS. The installer can self-certify their work and you do not need to make a separate building regulations application. As part of the process the installer must issue a notice of compliance within 30 days of work being completed. We receive email notification of this but do not receive a copy of your certificate.
  • if the installer is not registered with a scheme, or you are installing the stove yourself, the alternative is to complete a building notice at least 48 hours before work starts. You can then arrange for us to inspect the work for you and issue a completion certificate. Find out how to do this here.

SIA Approved Stoves

When buying a stove you should look for the SIA (Stove Industry Alliance) Approved Ecodesign Ready Stove quality assurance. This is because from February 2021 the Government banned the sale of certain fuels to help reduce air pollution.  This includes pre-packaged bituminous house coal and wood sold in single units that have a moisture content of more than 20%.

The LABC Guide here gives advice about how to install solid fuel stoves.

Once you are ready to start work on your project, you or your builder will need to contact us to arrange the first site inspection and regular inspections thereafter, including a final inspection. See our table of site inspections for domestic projects here.

Your building control surveyor will check everything is proceeding according to the building regulations and in the case of a full plans application, with your approved plans. 

A completion certificate will be issued when all stages have been inspected and have met the regulations. It is important that you keep this document safe, as you will need it should you remortgage or sell your property in the future.

We strongly advise that you wait until your application has been approved before starting work on site. This will reduce the risk of non-compliance with building regulations. If however you do start work before you receive our approval you must let us know in advance so that any necessary inspections can be carried out.

Legislation states that there is no time limit once work has started. However, we set our fees with the expectation that work will be carried out by a competent professional and completed within three years of your application being submitted.

If you stop work on your project for a period of more than three years, when you resume, we reserve the right to charge an admin fee. This fee will be our admin fee at the time you start work again. Our current fee is £150 inc VAT. 

Once work on site is complete you must notify us within 5 days so that we can carry out a final inspection. If you don't contact us at this point, but approach us at a later date, we may be unable to issue your completion certificate. 

Your approval will expire if work doesn't start within three years of the date of deposit of your application. (This  means the date when your application and the correct fee are accepted by us and you will find this on your approval or acknowledgement document.) If you have planning approval this will have a separate time limit.

One of our building control surveyors (or our structural engineer if appropriate) will carry out site inspections at various stages, liaising with your builder to offer advice and checking that work meets today’s building regulations.

It is important to agree with your builder before work starts, who will be responsible for contacting us to arrange these visits.

This can be done by

  • using the free LABC site inspection app (available for Apple or android devices) 
  • calling your surveyor. Find your surveyor here
  • calling our business support team before 9.30am on the day you would like the inspection on 0330 0249355.

The table here shows the types of inspections we would expect to carry out. 

We have written this article here to help you.

If work was completed before June 2017 you should contact the team at your local council who hold this information.

For Mole Valley residents, please use their Building Control Search

For Reigate & Banstead residents, please contact landcharges@reigate-banstead.gov.uk 

For Tandridge residents, please use their Contact Form.

Southern Building Control Partnership only keeps copies of completion certificates that have been issued since June 2017 and you should use our Contact Form to request a copy certificate

Unlike planning drawings, which are published on your local authority's website, building control plans are subject to copyright. A property owner can however view (but not take a copy of) the building control plans, even if the plans were submitted by a previous owner. If you are an agent acting for the owner you will need to provide written consent from them.

However, building control plans do not always show what has been built on site. For example where drainage had been laid, or how a new roof was constructed. This could be because a builder had unexpectedly come across a ground issue, or a design feature didn't work in practice.   This should not be a concern though provided we have carried out regular site inspections. Any issues would have been discussed and agreed with us before work could proceed further.

Checking foundation depths

If you need plans because you want to check the depth of existing foundations we will not accept what is written on the plans alone. We will ask you or your builder to dig a ‘trial hole’ so we can inspect this and confirm the foundation depth is sufficient to build another storey.

How to view plans

To view your plans you will need to request a property history search at your local council. Please see the information here.  Any plans held can be viewed on a screen at the council office at a pre-arranged time however they cannot be printed out for copyright reasons.

If you didn’t apply for building regulations at the time the works were carried out, you can apply to have the work regularised.

A Regularisation application may mean that work has to be opened up or additional information provided.  There is no guarantee that we will then issue a regularisation certificate. This will depend on the standard of the work meeting the building regulations at that time and all the necessary information being supplied.

To find out how to regularise older works, please read our advice on types of applications.

Local Authority Building Control (LABC) represents all Local Authority Building Control teams in England and Wales.

Southern Building Control Partnership is a member of LABC. All its members work cooperatively with owners, architects, designers, developers, building contractors and other professionals to ensure buildings are:

  • safe
  • healthy
  • efficient to meet the standards set by the building regulations. 

You can visit LABC's website here.

 

This does not have anything to do with building control legislation. However, we would suggest that before you make any formal complaint that you try contacting your neighbour to explain and try to resolve the situation amicably.

General construction hours

Apply to substantial construction works, not DIY or one-off work and are restricted to

  • 8am-6pm Monday to Friday
  • 8am-1pm on Saturdays
  • prohibited on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Since June 2020 the Government has however issued new guidance here on extended working hours for larger construction sites due to the pandemic. These must be applied for via the Local Authority Planning department.   

Noise

Depending on the time of day, duration and loudness of the works they may be deemed a 'nuisance'. 

Under the provisions of the Noise Act 1996 and other associated legislation the Local Authority Environmental Health team can be contacted, who may be able to act or investigate on your behalf.

 

 

 

Yes they can, provided that a building notice application and the correct fee are submitted to us in building control at least 48 hours before they start the work.

You can then ask one of our qualified building control surveyors to come out to inspect their work and provided it is satisfactory, we will issue you with a completion certificate.

Because of the safety issues and need for energy efficiency, this type of work does fall under the building regulations however, you do not always need to make a building regulations application to building control.

This type of installation is usually carried out by an engineer who is qualified under a Competent Person Scheme to self- certify the work and notify us on your behalf once the work is complete. 

The Planning Portal explains more about particular types of boilers, installation and the building regulations.

What happens if I don't use a Competent Person?

You can submit a Building Notice application to us at least 48 hours before you start the work and we will arrange for it to be inspected. Provided it is found to be satisfactory we issue you with a Completion Certifcate.

 

No you don't. Garden walls are not controlled by the building regulations. The only exception might be if the wall is close to your property's foundations, in which case please contact us for advice.

However, you may need planning permission, so check this with the Local Authority Planning department before you start work. 

Here at Southern Building Control Partnership we provide the building control service for almost 70% of the notifable construction projects in our three Local Authority areas. Our combined experience means we have worked on all types of projects from domestic extensions and one-off new builds to large commercial projects and housing developments.

Customer service

As a Council service we are a not-for profit organisation, offering value for money as well as the highest level of customer service. (As the results of our monthly customer surveys testify.)

Over many years our team has built up excellent working relationships with many of the architects and builders in our area and we offer pre-application and ongoing advice throughout the stages of your project.

We aim to plan check your application within 10 working days and our in-house structural engineer checks calculations within the same timeframe.  We give you the peace of mind only a Local Authority can of an approved set of plans to give to your builder before he starts work on site.

If your builder prefers to work on a building notice, we just need this submitted to us with the correct fee 48 hours before they start work.

Helping to keep your project running smoothly

As a local team of professionally qualified surveyors and engineers, we are able to offer same day site visits, ensuring your builder is not held up on site. We have a wealth of understanding about local ground conditions, site constraints and past history.  Our regular site inspections mean we can offer on-going advice to your builder as well as check the work meets the building regulations.

Our commitment to continual training

We understand how important it is for our team to keep up to date with the latest legislation and construction products and services so that we can share the benefit of our knowledge with our customers.  We run our own monthly CPD events and all our surveyors and engineers complete a minimum amount of professional training hours a year.  

The peace of mind of a completion certificate

Once work is completed on site, we have carried out a satisfactory final inspection and received any relevant competent person scheme notifications we can issue your completion certificate.  This shows that your project met the building regulations and was regularly inspected by us.  It is the document you will need to provide to any future purchaser if you decide to sell your property in the future.

Call us to discuss your project

If you would like to call us to discuss your particular project please call us on 0330 0249355 so we can learn more and discuss how we can work together.