Building regulations in the United Kingdom

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Building regulations are statutory instruments that seek to ensure that the policies set out in the relevant legislation are carried out. Building regulations approval is required for most building work in the UK. Building regulations that apply across England and Wales are set out in the Building Act 1984 while those that apply across Scotland are set out in the Building (Scotland) Act 2003.

The UK Government is responsible for the relevant legislation and administration in England, the Welsh Government is the responsible body in Wales, the Scottish Government is responsible for the issue in Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Executive has responsibility within its jurisdiction.

Changes in the Regulations[edit]

From 1 January 2005 the term building work includes work on household electrics.

The Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006 made provision for microgeneration to be brought within the Building Regulations, and increased to two years the time limit for prosecuting contraventions of the regulations relating to energy use, energy conservation or carbon emissions. It also requires the Secretary of State to report on compliance with these aspects of the Building Regulations and steps proposed to increase compliance.

From 6 April 2006, the Building Regulations are extended by amendments to incorporate some of the Eurocodes requiring energy in existing and new buildings to be measured, etc. The core term building work was once again amended and extended in scope to include renovation of thermal elements, and energy used by space cooling systems as well as energy used by space heating systems. Both are now subject to efficiency limits, and energy use controls are required. New additional competent persons schemes were proposed and authorised, in respect of energy systems and energy efficient design.
New Approved Documents for Part F and Part L were issued along with specified 'second tier' guidance documents.

A total rewrite of Approved Document for Part P (Electrical Safety) was also issued in 2006.
A total rewrite of the Building Regulations was issued in 2010. However, this has since been amended several times again, in 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014.
A total rewrite of Approved Document for Part K (Protection against Falling, & Glazing Safety, etc.) was also issued in 2012/2013. This new Part K now incorporates all that once was within Part N (Glazing Safety).

Approved documents and compliance[edit]

There are currently 14 parts (sections) to the building regulations and each is accompanied by an Approved Document. The Approved Documents usually take the form of firstly stating the legislation and then providing a number of means which are deemed to satisfy the Regulations.

The Building Regulations do not aim to stifle innovation. Compliance with the legislation is what is ultimately required and there may be many ways of complying, other than just using the ways set out in the 'deemed to satisfy' provisions within each of the Approved Documents.

In reality, an innovative solution may be hard to validate and for most building work, the tendency is to take the regulations literally.
For example, bathroom manufacturers produce a 'Doc M Pack' for disabled toilets, which reproduces exactly the diagram in Part M,[1] and most public disabled toilets are now designed around this layout.

Many innovative manufactured products have Agrément certificates issued by the British Board of Agrément,[2] certifying compliance with the Building Regulations. However, the BBA and Other Bodies (BSI, TRADA, DIN, etc.) may be able to test and certify to "CE" harmonised EU Standards. "CE" marking of all construction materials and products is now a legal requirement, since 1 July 2013.

Most of the detailed information on the building regulations is now available on http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations where general public users can now access simplified building regulations guidance, and professional users have a better organised version of what was on the former DCLG building regulations website, including the full versions of the Approved Documents and associated guidance, previously held on the DCLG website (now a constituent part of the www.gov.uk website).

Part A. Structure[edit]

This Part requires buildings to be designed, constructed and altered so as to be structurally safe and robust, and also so as not to impair the structural stability of other buildings.

It stipulates design standards that should be adopted for use on all buildings and additionally gives simple design rules for most masonry and timber elements for traditional domestic buildings.

The weight of the building from the walls, furniture and people in the building will be transmitted to the ground, so as not to cause instability to the building or other buildings.

Requires buildings to be built in a way ensuring no collapse will occur disproportionate to its cause.

Ground movement such as freezing of subsoil will not impair the stability of the building.

Part B. Fire safety[edit]

The Regulations consider five aspects of fire safety in the construction of buildings:

Requires safe means of escape from the building.

Requires the stability of a building to be maintained in a fire, both internally and externally.

Internally - The wall lining i.e. plaster, plasterboard or wooden boards on the walls and ceiling will resist the spread of flames and give off reasonable levels of heat, if on fire.

Internal stability will be maintained during fire and fire spread will be prohibited.

Fire and smoke will be prohibited from spreading to concealed spaces in a buildings structure.

Externally - The external walls and roof will resist spread of fire to walls and roofs of other buildings.

The building will be easily accessible for fire fighters and their equipment.

Building Regulation (16B) 38

This requires the designer and/or constructor to give the fire safety information (For a description of the information required - See Appendix G of AD B) to the Responsible Person, upon completion. So that a 'Fire Risk Assessment' can be core, by a 'competent person'.

Other Fire Laws (England & Wales and Scotland)

Warning Note: Once a building is occupied the Fire Safety Order 2005, will require a Fire Risk Assessment to be carried out, to take into account how the users are actually using the building (and any fire risks that brings to the building) and the "Responsible Person" to provide and maintain "adequate and sufficient" General Fire Precautions
The Fire Safety Order 2005 is criminal law, and breaches of this law can result in the "responsible person" being jailed, for up to two years and/or £10,000 for each offence. See Regulatory Reform (fire Safety) Order 2005.
Enforcement is by the local Fire Authority. Note: Corporate offences may have unlimited fines. It may be necessary to exceed the minimal requirements of the Building Regulations, in order to meet the Fire Risk Assessment, that is required by the Fire Safety order 2005.

Part C. Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture[edit]

Nothing should be growing on the ground covered by the building.

Precautions must be taken to stop gases and dangerous substances from previous land use from entering the building and endangering the health and safety of occupants.

Subsoil drainage will be in place, if needed, to stop the passage of ground moisture to the interior of the building and to prevent damage to the fabric of the building.

The walls, floors and roof of the building shall prevent moisture passing to the inside of the building.

The building must have provision to prevent condensation occurring in the roof structure.

Part D. Toxic substances[edit]

Insulating materials inserted into cavity walls can give off fumes. Prevention must be taken to stop these fumes reaching occupants of the building. Now largely obsolete.

See Part C for controls on toxic hazards from ground contaminants and/or brownfield development.

Part E. Resistance to the passage of sound[edit]

Approved Document E 2003 plus amendments 2004 [3] should be read in conjunction with supplemental document 'Robust Details Part E - Resistance to the passage of sound' - available from www.robustdetails.com

Separating floors and walls between domestic dwellings are required to meet a minimum sound insulation performance standard. This applies to both new 'purpose built' and converted 'material change of use' properties.

Purpose Built - The sound insulation value for each individual airborne test should be equal to or greater than 45dB DnTw+Ctr. Each individual impact test should be equal to or less than 62dB LnTw. Material Change of Use - The sound insulation value for each individual airborne test should be equal to or greater than 43dB DnTw+Ctr. Each individual impact test should be equal to or less than 64dB LnTw.

New internal walls and floors within dwelling-houses, flats and rooms for residential purposes, whether purpose built or formed by material change of use should achieve a minimum performance of Rw 40dB when tested in a laboratory. Test data is to be taken from a UKAS accredited laboratory.

Pre Completion Sound Tests have been required since July 2003 to ensure compliance with Approved Document E, unless the Robust Details approach is adopted, see Part L below. Testing is to be undertaken by a UKAS registered test organisation or European Equivalent (e.g. ANC). A list of preferred UKAS accredited companies can be found at www.ukas.org UKAS Organisation Search. A list of preferred ANC accredited companies can be found at www.association-of-noise-consultants.co.uk

Care should be taken to ensure site conditions are appropriate before testing commences to ensure tests can be completed and that the best results are achieved.

Part F. Ventilation[edit]

Standards for ventilation and air quality requirements for all buildings are included in this part of the building regulations

Part G. Sanitation & Hygiene & Water Efficiency[edit]

Adequate sanitation facilities i.e. toilet.

A house must have either a bath or shower with ability to heat hot water.

Unvented hot water storage systems - restrictions apply to who can install the system.

Part H. Drainage and waste disposal[edit]

An adequate system to carry water used for cooking, washing, toilet, bath or shower to a sewer, cesspool or settlement tank must be in place.

A cesspool or settlement tank must be impermeable to liquids and have adequate ventilation. It must also have means of access for emptying, not harm the health of any person and not contaminate water or water supply.

An adequate system to carry rainwater away from the roof of a building e.g. guttering carrying water to a sewer.

A place to put a wheelie bin or dustbin. The place must not harm anyone's health.

Part J. Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems[edit]

Must have an adequate air supply for combustion and for efficient working of a fluepipe or chimney.

Appliances shall discharge the products of combustion to the outside.

The appliance, fireplace and chimney shall reduce the risk of the building catching fire.

See Part B for general fire safety.

Part K. Protection from falling, collision and impact[edit]

Part K sets minimum standards for the safety of stairways, ramps and ladders, together with requirements for balustrading, windows, and vehicle barriers to prevent falling from floor edges, etc. Glass and Glazing Safety is also covered.

Also included are requirements for guarding where there is a risk of falling, pedestrian and vehicle barriers, and requirements to prevent injury from (opening) doors and windows.

Part L. Conservation of fuel and power[edit]

Approved documents L1 is specific to dwellings and L2 relates to all buildings other than dwellings.

As of 6 April 2006 (2010) (2014) split into four sections:

  • L1A New dwellings
  • L1B Existing Dwellings
  • L2A New Buildings other than Dwellings
  • L2B Existing Buildings other than dwellings

Part L controls the insulation values of building elements, the allowable area of windows, doors and other openings, air permeability of the structure, the heating efficiency of boilers and the insulation and controls for heating appliances and systems together with hot water storage and lighting efficiency. It also sets out the requirements for SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) calculations and Carbon Emission Targets for dwellings.

Regulation 16 requires the advertising of the SAP rating in all new dwellings. Approved Document L1 is supported by a set of 'robust' construction details, now known as "Accredited Construction Details".[4] which focus on way of limiting air leakage and thermal bridging in construction. By using these tried and tested details, expensive on-site testing can be avoided.

In addition to insulation requirements and limitation of openings of the building fabric, this part considers solar heating and heat gains to structures, it controls heating, mechanical ventilation and air conditioning systems, lighting efficiency, space heating controls, air permeability, solar emission, the certification, testing and commissioning of heating and ventilation systems, and requirements for energy meters.

Air permeability is measured by air tightness testing for new dwellings (based on a sampling regime), all new buildings other than dwellings and large extensions to buildings other than dwellings.

These four Approved Documents must be read in conjunction with the supplemental official and industry documents (the 'second tier' guidance documents).

Transitional Arrangements 2010 Source:(Energy Rating Services.com) There are a few areas that we would like to bring to your attention with regard to transitional arrangements.

Dwellings can be built according to the previous Building Regulations (2006) if:

• Work has already started on site before 1 October 2010 • Work done under a Competent Persons Scheme had a contract entered into before 1 October 2010 and work started before 6 April 2011 • A Building Notice, Full Plans Application or Initial Notice is submitted before 1 October 2010 and work on site starts before 1 October 2011

As long as a housing development application/notice has been made to Building Control bodies before 1 October 2010, and construction on some dwellings subsequently starts before 1 October 2011, then all dwellings in that scheme built after 1 October 2011 can still be built to the previous regulations. All EPCs will be based on SAP 2009 calculations from 1 April 2011. It is highly unlikely that many dwellings built to Part L 2010 will be completed before 1 April 2011. However, in the event that any are, the EPC will need to be produced using SAP 2005. Please note that all plots require a Building Control approval submission, regardless of how many identical properties are to be built in the same development.

Part L New Requirements Lighting, ventilation, solar heat gain and possible overheating will all impact on the potential to hit the 25% reduction target but until now have not really troubled us. As U-values falls (see table) and airtightness levels increases, heat loss through 'thermal bridges' becomes more significant. The new regulations give these issues more emphasis. They also require designs to avoid solar gains, leading to excessive summer temperatures. The need now exists to consider these issues at the design stage.

See also:

Part M. Access to and use of Buildings[edit]

Part M requires the inclusive provision of ease of access to and circulation within all buildings, together with requirements for facilities for disabled people.

Buildings should have reasonable provision:

  • For all people to gain access and use the building.
  • Toilets provision shall be made available for all.
  • If a building has seating such as audience or spectator seating, reasonable provision should be made for people with disabilities.

Note: the DDA 5 - 2006 impose legally binding duties on service providers, schools and public bodies, and these are separate from, and additional to, the Building Regulations 2000 minimum access and facilities requirements.

However, the Part M Approved Document is NOT written as a means of ensuring compliance with these legal duties. It is written to ensure that the design of a building does not create physical barriers to a building's inclusive use, over its lifetime.

Part N. Glazing - safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning[edit]

(Note: These Measures were moved into a new Part K in 2013) Glazing that people come into contact with whilst in a building, should, if broken, break in a way unlikely to cause injury, resist impact without breaking or be shielded or protected from impact.

Buildings, other than dwellings that have transparent glazing which people come into contact with while moving around a building, must have features to make it apparent. Windows that can be opened must be operated safely and provision made for safe accessible cleaning. Part N also includes safety requirements relating to the use, operation, and cleaning of windows.

Part N was repealed in 2013, its content being moved into Part K.

Part P. Electrical safety - Dwellings[edit]

New rules for electrical safety in the home, the garden and its outbuildings. This part only applies to dwellings (in some cases, buildings that would be exempt but which take their electrical supply from a dwelling). Several government approved competent persons schemes support Part P.

Reasonable provision shall be made in the design, installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations in order to protect persons from fire or injury.

Sufficient information shall be provided so that persons wishing to operate, maintain or alter an electrical installation can do so with reasonable safety.

Installers who are members of a certified "Competent Persons Scheme" may carry out electrical work without the need to submit a formal building regulations application.

See also: Electrical wiring (UK)

Exempt buildings[edit]

Exempt buildings include:

  • CLASS I Buildings controlled under other legislation e.g. Any building the construction of which is subject to the Explosives 5 and 1923. Or Nuclear related buildings.
  • CLASS II Buildings not frequented by people (unless close to an existing building).
  • CLASS III Greenhouses and agricultural buildings (Not used for Retail).
  • CLASS IV Temporary buildings (Erected for less than 28 days).
  • CLASS V Ancillary buildings.
  • CLASS VI Small detached buildings [Garages, garden storage sheds/huts] (less than 30 square metres floor area with NO sleeping accommodation therein).
  • CLASS VII Extensions - Porches, Covered Ways, Conservatories, (less than 30 square metres floor area).

The Building Regulations 2000 have been amended five times since the original statutory instrument was published. A new consolidated edition was published in 2010 = Building Regulations 2010. These have also now been amended 5 times since 2010. It is good practice to have exemption confirmed by the relevant local authority prior to starting construction works or alterations. The latest Statutory Instrument gives the full conditions of exemptions (and newly controlled buildings, see below).

NOTE: "Crown Buildings" and "National Government Buildings" are no longer totally exempt, from control by the Building Regulations. All "Crown Buildings" and "National Government Buildings" must comply with the energy efficiency measures set out in Part L. This is due to the EU laws requiring higher energy efficiency in all buildings (new and existing) under European "climate change" measures. Ref:(EPBD & EPBD 2) The EU laws require "public buildings" to be "good energy practice" examples.

New Energy Regulations have been made to fully implement these EU laws, where they fall outside the scope of the Building Act 1984 and/or The Building Regulations, made under that Act.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Most of the detailed information on the building regulations is now available on www.planningportal.gov.uk. [1] where General public users can now access simplified building regulations guidance and professional users have a better organised version of what was on the DCLG building legislation and building regulations web pages*, including the Approved Documents and associated guidance, previously held on the DCLG website.