Does your project need approval?
If you are planning a home improvement project there are several steps you need to consider before you start work. First decide on your budget and have a ‘wish list’ of what you want to achieve with your new/adapted space. As a homeowner, the next thing to do is check whether you need planning permission and/or building regulations approval as these are two separate processes. (In some cases, such as taking down a loadbearing wall in your home, you may not need planning permission but will need building regulations approval.)
Do I need planning permission?
Gaining planning permission for a project can take two to three months, so check early and make sure you factor this into your project timeline. Generally, if the works are internal then planning won’t usually apply unless you live in a listed building, but you should always check with your local council planning team, as there are exceptions. The Planning Portal interactive house is a good place to start your research.
Planning applications are often submitted by an agent or architect who will handle the application process for you, including drawing up plans for your proposed project. (Planning application drawings are not the same as those needed to make a building regulations application.) When engaging a professional to provide you with drawings, you should confirm with them if you require Building Control drawings.
Will I need building regulations approval?
Building Regulations apply to most new buildings and many structural alterations and ensure building work is carried out to current standards, so that our homes are safe and healthy to live in. They can also apply when the use of a building is changed; from a garage to a granny annexe or an office to a flat for example.
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 – such as a new boiler or new external window.
- home extensions such as for a kitchen, bedroom, lounge or loft conversion
- internal structural alterations, such as the removal of a load-bearing wall or partition
- installation of baths, showers, toilets, 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/doors 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.
Making an application
If you have made an application to your local planning department, you or your agent/architect would normally wait for a positive outcome before submitting a building regulations application. However, where work falls within permitted development rights and you have applied for a certificate of lawfulness, you may choose to make an application to us sooner if you are keen to get started on your project.
Our webpage here explains the building control process from submission to completion.
Watch our webinar for homeowners
Our homeowner webinar ‘Getting the builders in’.presented by a Planning Officer, a Building Control Manager and a Trading Standards officer is broken down into three sections:
- What is planning permission/permitted development, when and why you need them and an explanation of the application process
- Why building control is important, when it applies and how the process works, including information about competent person schemes
- Tips on employing a builder for your project.
What else should I consider?
If you are planning work which could affect party/boundary walls or will be digging excavations near neighbouring buildings The Party Wall Act provides a framework for preventing/resolving any potential disputes. We suggest you look into this as early as possible, as it gives neighbours reassurance that you are taking them into consideration whilst setting up a formal agreement between you covering the work which you propose to carry out.
The Party Wall Act is separate from Planning Permission and Building Regulations and is a private matter for you as the homeowner to deal with. You can find information on local Party Wall surveyors here.
If you live in a flat or apartment block there may be restrictions on the type of work you can carry out, for example by taking down a wall between your kitchen area and entrance hall you could compromise your means of escape in the event of a fire. You should consult with the management committee before deciding to go ahead with any work.
- Take a look at our series of blogs here which explain building regulations in relation to different types of projects, from kitchen extensions and eco-friendly lofts to bathroom electrics.
- Our online Homeowner Guides contain chapters on most types of home improvement projects as well as tips on how to plan, budget and employ tradespeople.
If you’d like to talk to us about your project please get in touch by using our contact form or by calling us on 0330 0249355.