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FAQs

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. 

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 spend more time on site, 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.

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.

 

Once you are ready to start work on your project, you will need to contact us to let us know. Your building control surveyor will make a series of site visits at relevant stages to check everything is proceeding in accordance with 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.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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

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.

We have written this article here to help you.

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 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 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 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.

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 govering body and request a copy certificate. 

This is a list of the types of work covered by Competent Person Schemes.

  • Installation of cavity wall insulation
  • Installation of solid wall insulation
  • Installation of gas appliances
  • Installation or replacement of hot water and heating systems connected to gas appliances
  • Installation or replacement of a heating or hot water system connected to an electric heat source
  • Installation of fixed air conditioning or mechanical ventilation systems
  • 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 microgeneration or renewable technologies

Yes you can if you are the current property owner, 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.

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.  (Any work started would be at your own risk until we have 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.

 

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 will ban 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.