Building Regulations in the UK

Building regulations apply to constructing most new building or altering existing buildings. These regulations are legally required and apply to domestic, commercial and industrial buildings. Regulations ensure that the structure of buildings is safe whenever they are being built or altered. They also ensure buildings are habitable and that sites are suitable for any works being undertaken. Building regulations also secure the health and safety of persons in or around buildings, as well as promote sustainable development.

Building Legislation in the UK

There are several pieces of legislation that apply to the UK's building control regime. Building regulations for England and Wales are outlined in the Building Act, 1984, while regulations for Scotland are included in the Building (Scotland) Act, 2003. Responsibility over administration of building regulations is held with the UK Government for England, the Welsh Government in Wales, the Scottish Government in Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Executive in Northern Ireland. Current legislation that relates to the standards of buildings, premises and construction also include the Sustainable and Secure Buildings Act, 2004 and The Party Wall etc Act, 1996. Local Acts may also affect building projects, as well as the Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations, 2010.

What's Covered

Building regulations ensure that construction or alterations to a building are carried out safely. The Building Regulations are a legislative framework that includes Building Regulations, 2010 and the Building Regulations (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations, 2010. The Building Regulations include procedural regulations that outline what work requires approval and how approvals are sought, as well as technical requirements and standards to ensure safe building work. Building regulations are also known as Building Standards in Scotland.

A number of issues are covered by the building regulations or standards. Regulations cover the structure of the building, including requirements that buildings are designed, constructed and altered in ways that ensure they are structurally safe. Building regulations also include requirements related to site preparation and precautions to avoid impacts from contaminants and moisture. Additional regulations relate to fire safety in the construction of buildings, toxic substances, electrical safety, access to and use of buildings for disabled people, building design requirements to safely accommodate combustion appliances and fuel storage systems, and resistance to the passage of sound between domestic dwellings. Standards related to ventilation and air quality, sanitation and hygiene, water efficiency, drainage and waste disposal are also included. There are also minimum standards for stairways, ramps, ladders, windows and other building components to prevent falls, collisions and impacts during building works, as well as safety requirements related to glazing. Building regulations also outline requirements for conserving fuel and power.

Exempt Buildings

Construction and alterations to certain buildings are exempt from building regulations. Exempt buildings include greenhouses and agricultural buildings that are not used for retail and temporary buildings erected for less than 28 days and ancillary buildings. Small detached buildings such as garages and storage sheds with no sleeping accommodation are also exempt if they have a floor area of less than 30 square metres. Extensions including porches, covered ways and conservatories are exempt from the Building Regulations if they are less than 30 square metres. Structures that are not frequented by people are also exempt if they are not close to an existing building, as are buildings controlled by other legislation such as nuclear-related buildings.