Building control is an essential part of the home renovation process, ensuring the work done on your property is safe, legal and up to scratch. At Kantec we work with trusted inspectors to make sure building regulations are adhered to, so you can relax knowing your home is in safe hands. We caught up with Clyde Scott from Scotts AI to answer some frequently asked building control questions.
What is building control and what is it for?
Building control refers to the ‘bodies’ or businesses that make sure building regulations are complied with. Building regulations are technical performance standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health of the people that occupy them. They also set standards for the energy efficiency of buildings and access into and around them.
How is building regulations approval different from planning permission?
Building regulations are standards for the design and construction of buildings, which are mainly concerned with health and safety. Whereas planning permission is concerned with the location, size and appearance of proposed buildings. For most types of building work, such as new buildings and extensions, both planning permission and building regulations approval will be needed. For other building work, such as internal alterations, it is likely that only buildings regulations approval will be needed.
Do I need to involve building control in my project?
Some kinds of minor building works are exempt from building regulations, such as certain porches and conservatories; however, most types of building work will require the involvement of building control.
Where do I go to find a building control inspector?
There are two types of building control bodies – approved inspectors and local authority inspectors. You can choose which you use.
Approved inspectors, like Scotts AI, are companies approved by the government to provide building control services anywhere in England and Wales. This gives them the advantage of developing good relationships with clients, architects and builders, regardless of where the building work itself is located, providing a consistent approach to the application process and technical issues. The Construction Industry Council has a list online with contact details of all approved inspectors.
Local authority inspectors can only work within the particular local council or county council area in which they are located. They also have other work for which they are responsible and this involves the enforcement of building regulations if there are contraventions on site.
What are the different building control options I might need to apply for?
Within local authority building control there are two types of application that you can submit for building regulation approval: a full plans application and building notice. A full plans application is where plans, specifications and structural calculations are submitted and checked. This offers you the protection of drawings that have been checked by a building control professional. Local authorities have to approve or reject a full plans application within five to eight weeks; if rejected, the plans have to be re-submitted for approval.
If you’re using an approved inspector you will need to submit a full plans application because they do not offer the building notice route. Approved inspectors do not have a time limit in which they have to approve plans, so plans are never rejected. They offer a plans certificate after they’ve been approved, but the plans do not have to be approved in order for the work to start.
The building notice option can be used for certain types of small extensions, but not where the fire authority or water authority need to be consulted, or for new buildings. This type of application relies on site inspections and does not have the protection of plans that have been checked. Although there may be an advantage in using a building notice for some small, simple projects, for loft conversions and structural alterations plans and calculations are still needed. And, once building works have started, the building control inspector can legally ask for any information, plans and structural calculations that they deem necessary in order to approve the works, which can cause delays.
Once I’ve decided on which route to take, what happens next?
Some local authorities and most approved inspectors will offer pre-application advice, which is often freely given, especially when dealing with Approved Inspectors. We recommend that potential clients contact us as early as possible during the design stage of a project. Our early involvement allows us to outline how the building regulations will apply and it gives the client an opportunity to discuss and clarify important design principles with us.
Before the formal application is submitted, the fee will be agreed and, no matter the route you choose, the fee is normally dependant on the size and complexity of the work. Once we’ve agreed the fee with our clients, the building regulations application is submitted. We notify the local authority that Scotts AI will be carrying out the building control service.
Once the application is submitted, the plans are checked for compliance with the technical performance requirements of building regulations. If the plans are defective or lack information, a letter is sent out asking for additional information or amendments to the plans. When the plans are satisfactory they are approved and an approval notice/plans certificate will be issued.
After my application has been submitted, how long must I wait before I start work?
For local authority applications, work can start on-site as soon as the full plans or building notice application has been submitted and registered, so in practice this will take a day or two.
When using an approved inspector, the building work cannot start until five days after the local authority has been notified that an approved inspector will be carrying out the building control service. After this the local authority will usually have nothing more to do with the building works and no additional fee is payable to them. In practice, the five days rarely has an impact on projects because building works are normally planned well in advance of the site start date.
How often will an inspector visit the site?
The number of inspections carried out is determined by the size and complexity of the work and, to some extent, by the level of detail shown on the submitted plans and the relationship the inspector has with the builder. We provide our clients with pre-agreed, timed, next-day inspections wherever possible and a site inspection report is issued after each. As it is not practical to examine every item of work covered by building regulations, inspectors use professional judgement in the selection of priorities for inspection and avoid unnecessary inspections of low-risk stages of the building works.
Do I receive a certificate when the project is complete?
On larger projects, well before the site works are complete, we will provide a pre-completion document checklist to remind clients of the necessary documents and certificates that are required to prevent any delays. Once the building works are satisfactorily completed we will issue the Final Certificate. This is a legal document to confirm that the works comply with building regulations. It should be kept in a safe or given to a solicitor, as it will be needed if the property is sold.
For more advice and information about building control from Scotts AI, email firstname.lastname@example.org
About Scotts AI Ltd.
Scotts AI is an approved inspector licensed by the Construction Industry Council to provide building regulation approvals in England and Wales. Director Clyde Scott has over 40 years’ experience in the construction industry, including 30 years as a building control professional. He is a qualified structural engineer, a fellow of the Chartered Association of Building Engineers and a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Scotts AI is based in west London and deals with building work predominately in London, greater London and the surrounding areas. They have extensive experience with domestic and commercial building works of all types and sizes.