Planning Permission.

Most new buildings or major changes to existing buildings or to the local environment need consent – known as planning permission. Without a planning system everyone could construct buildings or use land in any way they wanted, no matter what effect this would have on other people who live and work in their area.

Your local planning authority is responsible for deciding whether a development – anything from an extension on a house to a new shopping centre – should go ahead. Find your local planning authority.

Some small extensions may not require planning approval providing they conform to certain criteria. You may find ‘the planning portal’ helpful but please feel free to ask us for any advice.

Planning approval generally takes a minimum of 8 weeks depending on its complexity and requires a fee of £150 by the local authority for an extension.

Once planning approval is given you have 3 years to commence the works.

Building Regulations.

Building Regulations apply in England & Wales and promote standards for most aspects of a building's construction, energy efficiency in buildings, the needs of all people, including those with disabilities, in accessing and moving around buildings.

 A fee of approximately £120 to £200 is required by the local authority for an application for a small extension. Fees for larger extensions depend on its size or a proportion of building costs.

Once planning approval is given you have 3 years to commence the works.

For more in depth information see below:

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 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.

A1 Loading

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 UKAS Organisation Search. A list of preferred ANC accredited companies can be found at

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.


Part G. Hygiene

This part lays down standards for the provision of sanitary and washing facilities, bathrooms and hot water provision.

It also covers safety requirements in respect of unvented hot water systems.

G1 Sanitary conveniences and washing facilities

G2 Bathrooms

G3 Hot water storage

Note: Part G is to be 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. Combustable 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

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.

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.

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 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.

See also:

Energy efficiency in British housing


National Home Energy Rating

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 N. Glazing - safety in a 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.

Exempt buildings

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.