Building regulations in the United Kingdom
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.
- 1 Changes in the Regulations
- 2 Approved documents and compliance
- 2.1 Part A. Structure
- 2.2 Part B. Fire safety
- 2.3 Part C. Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture
- 2.4 Part D. Toxic substances
- 2.5 Part E. Resistance to the passage of sound
- 2.6 Part F. Ventilation
- 2.7 Part H. Drainage and waste disposal
- 2.8 Part J. Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems
- 2.9 Part K. Protection from falling, collision and impact
- 2.10 Part L. Conservation of fuel and power
- 2.11 Part M. Access to and use of Buildings
- 2.12 Part N. Glazing - safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning
- 2.13 Part P. Electrical safety - Dwellings
- 3 Exempt buildings
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Changes in the Regulations
From 1 January 2005 the term building work includes work on household electrics.
The Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006 makes provision for microgeneration to be brought within the Building Regulations, and increases 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.
Approved documents and compliance
There are currently 14 sections to the buildings 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 Regulations themselves are actually rather brief; in common speech when architects talk of the 'Building Regs' it is the Approved Documents to which they refer.
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, and most public disabled toilets are now designed around this layout.
Many manufactured products have Agrément certificates issued by the British Board of Agrément, certifying compliance with the Building Regulations.
Most of the detailed information on the building regulations is now available on www.planningportal.gov.uk. 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.
Part A. Structure
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.
A2 Ground movement
A3 Disproportionate collapse
Part B. Fire safety
The Regulations consider five aspects of fire safety in the construction of buildings:
B1 Means of escape
1. That sufficient provisions are made in design of the building so that in the event of fire the occupants can escape to a place of safety by their own efforts. This includes incorporating a suitable fire alarm system to give early warning of fire to the occupants and users of a building.
B2 Internal fire spread (linings)
2. That the internal linings of a building do not support a rapid spread of fire
B3 Internal fire spread (structure)
3. That the structure of the building should not collapse prematurely and should slow the spread of fire through the building and in unseen cavities and voids by providing fire resisting walls and partitions where necessary;
B4 External fire spread
4. That the spread of fire between buildings be discouraged by spacing them apart sufficiently and controlling the number and size of openings on boundaries;
B5 Access and facilities for the fire service
5. That the building (and the site layout & access roads) are designed in such a way as to aid the fire brigade fight fire and effect rescue of persons caught in a fire.
Part C. Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture
Many subjects are embraced by this comprehensive part. These include the weather and water tightness of buildings, subsoil drainage, site preparation, and measures to deal with contaminated land, Radon, Methane, and all other site related hazardous and dangerous substances.
C1 Preparation of site
C2 Dangerous and offensive materials
C3 Subsoil drainage
C4 Resistance to weather and ground moisture
Part D. Toxic substances
This controls hazards from the toxic chemicals used in cavity fill insulation systems.
See Part C for controls on toxic hazards from ground contaminants and/or brownfield development.
Part E. Resistance to the passage of sound
Approved Document E 2003 plus amendments 2004  should be read in conjunction with supplemental document 'Robust Details Part E - Resistance to the passage of sound'- a priced document from Robust Details Ltd.
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
Standards for ventilation and air quality requirements for all buildings are included in this part of the building regulations
G4 Sanitary conveniences and washing facilities
G6 Kitchen and food preparation areas
Note: Part G was revised in April 2010, copies of the new document can be down loaded from the Planning portal
Part H. Drainage and waste disposal
Part H requires that adequate drainage systems be provided and also deals with pollution prevention, sewage infrastructure issues, and maintenance and adoption regimes for sewers.
Technical design standards included in this Part cover the following: internal sanitary pipework, foul drainage, rainwater drainage and final disposal, wastewater treatment and discharges, cesspools, building over or close to 'public' and 'private' sewers and refuse storage.
The complete replacement of a drainage system is controlled building work.
H1 Foul water drainage
H2 Wastewater treatment systems and cesspools
H3 Rainwater drainage
H4 Building over sewers (public & private)
H5 Separate systems of drainage (Foul water and Surface water)
H6 Solid waste storage ("Bins" & "Recycling")
Part J. Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems
This is concerned with the construction, installation and use of boilers, chimneys, flues, hearths and fuel storage installations.
It controls the safety of installations: suitability of materials / non-combustibility, pollution, carbon monoxide poisoning.
See Part B for general fire safety.
Part K. Protection from falling, collision and impact
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.
See Part N for glazing safety standards.
Part L. Conservation of fuel and power
Approved documents L1 is specific to dwellings and L2 relates to all buildings other than dwellings.
As of 6 April 2006 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. PEN DE LAN Approved Document L1 is supported by a set of 'robust' construction details, now known as "Accredited Construction Details". 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 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 M. Access to and use of Buildings
Part M requires the inclusive provision of ease of access to and circulation within all buildings, together with requirements for facilities for disabled people.
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 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 less significant. The new regulations give these issues more emphasis. The need now exists to consider these issues at the design stage and follow these figures in the table.
________________________________________ Key Changes U-value Changes No less than No less than Element 2006 U-value 2010 new U-value Roof 0.16 0.15 Wall 0.3 0.2 Floor 0.22 0.15 Windows 1.8 1.6 Doors 1.8 1.8
Part N. Glazing - safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning
Minimum requirements for the provision of safety glazing to protect against impact hazards, and for glazing manifestation (e.g. warning markings in large panes).
Part N also includes safety requirements relating to the use, operation, and cleaning of windows.
Part P. Electrical safety - Dwellings
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.
See also: Electrical wiring (UK)
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. It is good practice to have exemption confirmed by the relevant local authority prior to construction. The Statutory Instrument give the full conditions.
- Building Control Officer
- Building regulations approval
- Code for Sustainable Homes
- Energy efficiency in British housing
- Equality and Human Rights Commission
- Planning permission
- http://www.thebluebook.co.uk/static/18_3_1.asp?Specifying=&digits=18:3:1 Doc M Standard Pack, page from manufacturer's website
- http://www.bbacerts.co.uk/ British Board of Agrément
- http://www.planningportal.gov.uk UK Planning portal
- http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/england/professionals/en/1115314255826.html Accredited Construction Details
- http://www.chilternfire.co.uk/content/view/165/64/ Chiltern Fire, air tightness testing
- http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2000/20002531.htm#sch2 The Building Regulations 2000, Exempt buildings and work
Most of the detailed information on the building regulations is now available on www.planningportal.gov.uk.  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 Approved Documents and associated guidance, previously held on the website.
- Planning Portal
- The Building and Approved Inspectors (Amendment) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/652)
- The Building (Amendment) Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/3335)
- The Building (Approved Inspectors etc) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/2532)
- Building Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/2531)
- English Government Website - Building Regulations
- Scotland's Building Standards Agency
- British Board of Agrément Website