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Building Control FAQs

Q1: Building Notice
Q2: Control over demolition
Q3: Depositing Full Plans
Q4: Does my proposed building work require building regulations approval?
Q5: How can I ensure that my proposals will comply with building regulations?
Q6: How do I make an application?
Q7: How do I obtain house type approval?
Q8: How does the building notice work?
Q9: How many copies of drawings do I have to supply?
Q10: How much do I need to pay?
Q11: How soon can I expect a response to my Full Plans Application?
Q12: Is any building work exempt from the requirement of building regulations?
Q13: LANTAC - House type approval
Q14: Material change of use
Q15: Regularisation Certificates
Q16: What are the pitfalls?
Q17: What are the technical requirements of building regulations?
Q18: What decision options are available to the Building Control Surveyor?
Q19: What do I do before commencing building work?
Q20: What is it all about?
Q21: What other functions does Building Control at Spelthorne undertake?
Q22: What other type approvals exist?
Q23: What technical information will the Building Control Surveyor require?
Q24: When can the building notice procedure be used?

Q1 Building Notice

This form of application is a method of complying with the building regulations without the need for the deposit of detailed plans before the building work is commenced

The charges payable under this procedure are the same in total as those of the "Full Plans" procedure but are payable in their entirely upon submission of the Building Notice.

Q2 Control over demolition

Anyone carrying out demolition of a building must give notice of his intention to the local authority and should give copies to the occupier of any adjacent building, and to the gas and electricity authorities.

This notice is to enable the local authority to require certain works to be done to adjoining buildings by way of repairing any damage, to safeguard against collapse, to weatherproof and to ensure that redundant drains are properly sealed. It can also require that all demolition material, rubbish, etc is removed and arrangements made with gas, water and electricity authorities to disconnect their services. In some instances a 'method statement', indicating the demolition processes intended and protection etc to ongoing structures, will be required.

Q3 Depositing Full Plans

A "Full Plans" application enables your drawing and details to be formally checked and approved before you start work

If found to comply with Building Regulations, a "Notice of Passing of Building Plans" will be issued (in some cases with conditions). Such a Notice will often be required by financial institutions or solicitors when you seek a loan or come to sell your property. If the work on site is undertaken in accordance with the approved drawings, we will ask no further justifications or amendment to the design. You will be able to proceed with confidence.

Q4 Does my proposed building work require building regulations approval?

Unless exempt as outlined in the next section, the following building work is subject to control under building regulations:

  • new buildings
  • extensions to buildings
  • alterations to a building

    a) altering the internal or external structure of a building, including
    i) the removal of a loadbearing wall or partition
    ii) re-roofing a building
    b) insertion of insulation material in external cavity walls
    c) underpinning a building (or part)
    d) alterations to means of escape in case of fire
    e) alterations to the fire safety of a building in respect of
    i) internal fire spread - structure and linings
    ii) external fire spread - walls and roofs
    iii) access and facilities for the fire service
    f) alterations to access and facilities for the disabled

Installation, extension or alteration of a controlled service
a) installation of a septic tank drainage system
b) installation of boiler and chimney/flue pipe
c) installation of fittings and appliances such as WC's, showers, baths, etc including associated drainage.

Q5 How can I ensure that my proposals will comply with building regulations?

Each part of the building regulations is supported by approved documents

Designing in accordance with the guidance in the approved documents tends to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of building regulations in the event of an alleged contravention. If the guidance in the approved documents has not been followed it will be for the designer to demonstrate by other means that the requirements have been satisfied. The designer may wish to refer to documents such as the: -

  • British Standards
  • British Standards Codes of Practice
  • Agreement Certificates
  • Building Research Establishment Digests

Q6 How do I make an application?

If the building proposed, or to which works are to be undertaken, is a workplace, or involves building over or near a "public sewer" you must submit "Full Plans"

In other circumstances you have the choice of submitting a "Building Notice" or depositing "Full Plans". Neither of these procedures, which are outlined below, must be confused with Planning Permission. Building Regulations and Town and Country Planning Acts are totally separate and it does not follow that approval under one will automatically result in approval under the other. Both full plan approvals and building notices remain valid for three years from the date of submission.

Q7 How do I obtain house type approval?

The scheme has been designed to escape from bureaucracy and to speed up the plan approval process

As a developer you can arrange to have standard house designs examined for compliance with the building regulations just once and, under the procedures of the scheme, this approval is accepted by all other Local Authorities in England and Wales without any further checking, except for site related matters (eg foundations, drainage and fire spread between buildings). A Type Approval Certificate is issued which can then be submitted with a full plans application.

There is no additional registration fee for house type approval, although building regulation charges will be payable upon submission of a full plans application to a Local Authority. When a proposed site incorporates standard house types which will be used in other areas, simply ask us to type approve the designs. Three copies of the plans should be provided as well as any supporting documents. We will arrange for the necessary duplicate designs to be undertaken by at least one other authority.

You may wish to obtain type approval for house designs without any reference to a particular site. This can be arranged by contacting our helpline.

Q8 How does the building notice work?

Before you start work you must submit the "Building Notice" form with the appropriate payment and as much supporting information as you have available to the Building Control Surveyor

It is helpful, and sometimes a requirement, for you to submit a scaled site plan showing the property and the site of the proposed building work. If the work includes new drainage, the site plan should show that it is practical and whether the building work is to be constructed over an existing drain or sewer.

Q9 How many copies of drawings do I have to supply?

Generally the forms, plans and details should be deposited in duplicate, however, should the scheme involve a workplace (for which fire precautions and Means of Escape in Case of Fire are required by Building Regulations), then two extra copies of those drawings showing the necessary provision should be submitted

This is to enable consultation with the Fire Brigade's Fire Safety Officers to be undertaken. In the event of site work on such projects deviating from the original approved design, further copies "as built" drawings must then be submitted to us. Don't forget to provide an Ordnance Survey extract or other site plan to a scale of 1:1250 so we can locate your site.

Q10 How much do I need to pay?

Unless the works are intended to provide certain facilities for disabled people, a charge is made by the Council

Unless the correct payment is received, the application cannot be validated. Guidance notes for charges are available.

It is important to remember that, other than where full payment is made in advance, (eg small extensions, minor alterations), we will send an invoice for an "inspection charge" following the first visit by the Building Control Surveyor to inspect work in progress.

Q11: How soon can I expect a response to my Full Plans Application?

Validation of your application will normally occur within two days of the receipt, provided that the correct payment is received, there is the correct number of plans and forms are properly completed.

The plans will then be forwarded to your Building Control Surveyor for the checking of technical aspects. A formal decision letter will thereafter be issued which may be in the form of a pass with conditions, a pass with no conditions or, in some instances, a notice of rejection of the plans.

For those projects which require consultation with the Fire Safety Officer or Thames Water Utilities, it is necessary for us to allow a period of at least 14 working days.

Q12: Is any building work exempt from the requirement of building regulations?

Not all work is subject to the requirements of building regulations and certain buildings can be erected without the need to make an application

  • buildings controlled under other legislation such as buildings, which are part of nuclear Installations; ancient monuments
  • detached buildings into which people do not normally go, other than for maintenance and repair eg buildings solely for the use of housing plant and machinery
    such buildings are not exempt if the building is less than one and a half times its height from
    (i) any point of a building into which people can or do normally go
    (ii) the nearest point of the boundary of the curtilage of that building whichever is nearer
  • greenhouses and agricultural buildings depending on their siting in relation to buildings containing sleeping accommodation and the number of exits available such buildings are not exempt if they are used for the purposes of retailing, packing or exhibiting
  • a temporary building, which is not intended to remain where it is erected for more than 28 days
  • ancillary buildings on building and civil engineering sites, such as agent's offices, mess rooms, stores etc which contain no sleeping accommodation
  • buildings used in connection with a mine or quarry, other than one which contains a dwelling or is used as an office or showroom
  • detached single storey buildings not exceeding 30m2 floor area which
    (a) contain no sleeping accommodation; and
    (b) are not less than one metre away from any boundary or are constructed substantially of non combustible material (for garages, timbers supporting the roof are disregarded)
  • detached buildings not exceeding 15m2 floor area and which do not contain sleeping accommodation
  • certain detached buildings not exceeding 30m2 area intended to be used to shelter people from the effects of warfare
  • certain small ground floor extensions not exceeding 30m2 floor area eg conservatory, porch, carport (ie open on at least two sides), covered way


In respect of conservatories and porches any glazing must satisfy the requirements of Part N Glazing of Schedule 1 of Building Regulations (eg toughened glass).

For the purposes of measuring "floor area" under the building regulations, internal measurements are used.

Q13: LANTAC - House type approval

The housing market presents an unprecedented challenge for house builders, including Housing Associations, who have to keep abreast of the constant improvements and changes to building legislation, particularly the Building Regulations

Local Authority Building Control recognises this situation and appreciates that house builders need to complete projects quickly, efficiently and competitively.

The Local Authority National Type Approved Confederation (LANTAC) is a Local Authority Building Control organisation comprised of all Building Control Authorities in England and Wales. LANTAC develops the procedures for Type Approval schemes, which are designed to assist house builders to obtain 'no fuss' approvals under the Building Regulations throughout England and Wales.

Q14: Material change of use

This is when you intend to use a building, or part of building, for a different purpose from that for which it is currently being used

It includes changes to form the following:

  • a dwelling
  • a flat or flats - including maisonettes
  • a hotel or boarding house
  • an institutional building
  • a public building
  • a building, the proposed use of which will be subject to building regulations, and which previously was an exempt building
  • a building, which contains at least one dwelling, contains a greater or lesser number of dwellings than it did previously

Q15: Regularisation Certificates

Introduced into the Building Regulations in 1994 this facility enables us to certify that unauthorised work, (ie extensions or alterations undertaken without reference to a Building Control Surveyor) carried out since 1985 is to an acceptable standard

A request for Regularisation is to be accompanied by the appropriate payment and any supporting technical information as is available to you. We will investigate the matter and this may entail you exposing as much of the work as necessary for us to be convinced of its suitability. Unless we are satisfied that the work was in compliance with the Building Regulations the Regularisation Certificate will not be issued. You will be given the opportunity to undertake remedial work in order to obtain the certificate. The procedure does not remove our powers to take enforcement action should we find it necessary to ensure your safety.

Q16: What are the pitfalls?

It is the duty of both the person having the work done and the builder to comply with the Building Regulations.

A lot of work may be undertaken between site visits by the Building Control Surveyor and, should this work be found to be unacceptable, it will need to be removed or altered. For this reason it is recommended that the use of a Building Notice should occur only where the architect, builder or supervisor is familiar with Building Regulations and, in particular, any requirements specific to the Borough of Spelthorne (eg the need to ensure that all the new roof timber is adequately treated against infestation by House Longhorn Beetle prior to installation).

A Certificate of Completion, or "seal of approval", is issued upon completion, subject to sufficient work having been inspected to ascertain compliance with the Building Regulations.

Q17: What are the technical requirements of building regulations?

The technical requirements of the building regulations are categorised under various headings

Part A - Structure deals with the structural stability of a building and includes elements of the construction such as foundations, walls, floors, roofs and structural framework eg beams and columns.

Part B - Fire safety is concerned with the fire safety arrangements to protect the fabric of the building and people in and around the building. It includes provisions in respect of fire spread within a building and from one building to another, means of escape for people from the building and access and facilities for the fire service.

Part C - Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture requires certain precautions to be taken in the construction of a building to ensure that it can resist penetration of the weather and dampness from the ground. It also deals with the effects of building on land, which contains contaminants such as methane gas.

Part D - Toxic Substances deals with ensuring that cavity wall insulation is properly installed.

Part E - Resistance to the Passage of Sound relates to standards of sound insulation construction for walls, floors and stairs between different flats, maisonettes and houses to resist certain levels of impact and airborne sound.

Part F - Ventilation requires adequate ventilation to be provided to a building to supply air for use of the people in the building and to prevent the accumulation of pollutants such as steam from bathroom and kitchens from becoming hazardous to the health of those people. This part also includes measures for limiting potentially harmful condensation within roof spaces and voids.

Part G - Hygiene covers minimum standards for the provision of sanitary conveniences, washing facilities and bathrooms or showers including the provision of an adequate supply of hot and cold water to these appliances. It also deals with the installation of unvented hot water systems.

Part H - Drainage and Waste Disposal is concerned with buildings being provided with adequate above and below ground drainage systems to convey both foul water and rainwater to suitable means of disposal such as a sewer, tank, cesspool or other treatment plant or, in the case of rainwater, to a soakaway. Also covered are provisions for adequate storage facilities for refuse.

Part J - Heat Producing Appliances relates to the installation of solid fuel, gas and oil fired heating appliances and sets down performance requirements in respect of the appliances, chimneys, flues and combustion air so that they do not cause a danger to the building or the health and safety of occupants.

Part K - Protection from falling, collision and impact extensively revised in 1998, this covers the design of stairs, ladders, ramps and their guarding to ensure that they offer safe passage to people between different levels in and around a building. Also dealt with are safety measures in respect of the provision of guarding to the edge of floors, balconies and similar places to prevent falling, the provision of barriers along vehicle access routes and in vehicle parks and protection from collision with open windows etc

Part L1+2 - Conservation of Fuel and Power lays down reasonable standards of thermal insulation to limit heat loss from buildings and conserve fuel and power. The insulation requirements are in respect of walls, roofs and floors and permitted areas of glazing, together with controls and insulation for heating and hot water services. Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) ratings were introduced on 1 July 1995.

Part M - Access for Disabled People deals with access for disabled people into and within buildings, together with provision of suitable sanitary conveniences and spectator seating in stadia or other auditoria to which the public are admitted. From October 1999 requirements apply to new housing developments.

For the purposes of this part a disabled person is one who has an impairment, which limits their ability, to walk or requires them to use a wheelchair for mobility or has a slight hearing or sight impairment.

Part N - Glazing, safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning requires the provision of safety glazing or other protective measures in "critical locations" where glass breaking upon impact could cause injury to people. Additional measures also cover the provision of permanent means of marking large uninterrupted areas of glazing so that its presence is apparent. Introduced in 1998 was the provision of safe access for cleaning and opening windows.

Part P - Electrical safety.  Design and installation of electrical installations.

Q18: What decision options are available to the Building Control Surveyor?

There are three options available for the Surveyor dealing with your Full Plans application

  • the building plans may be passed, unconditionally
  • the building plans may be passed subject to conditions. These conditions must be mutually acceptable and will require drawings to be amended in a specific way or for further information to be provided within a specific time limit
  • as a last resort, plans may have to be rejected. Our policy is to make every effort to avoid this option but we do rely heavily on your co-operation. Following rejection a resubmission will be required if you intend to proceed with the project

Q19: What do I do before commencing building work?

Two days before any building work starts either the person having the work carried out or the builder should notify the Building Control Surveyor that the work is about to start

It is advisable to make arrangements to discuss the proposed work before starting. This is best done on site and may help to prevent unnecessary or abortive work, (or failure to comply with the Building Regulations). The Council must be notified when various stages are nearing completion so that inspections can be carried out.

 Q20: What is it all about?

Control relating to buildings can be traced back to the Great Fire of London in 1666, following which Charles II decreed that walls between buildings must be constructed of brick or stone, and buildings with timber classing must be built far enough apart to prevent the spread of fire from one to another

At the beginning of official control of private building work, in 1858, in the interest of public health and safety, Local Authorities made byelaws and operated Local Acts, which they thought appropriate for their own area.

Building Regulations, were first introduced in 1966, consisting mainly of mandatory requirements. 1985 saw the introduction of Regulations written in a less prescriptive and more functional manner, supported by Approved Documents specifying technical requirements referring frequently to the British Standards. This was an attempt by Government to allow builders and designers more flexibility to decide how to comply with the Regulations.

The main purpose of Building Regulations is to protect health and safety of people in and around buildings, although in recent years the welfare and convenience of a buildings' users including disabled people and the conservation of energy have been included.

This protection is achieved by a combination of plan approval and/or site inspection. The Full Plans procedure and Building Notice method are described below.

Q21: What other functions does Building Control at Spelthorne undertake?

Dealing with dangerous buildings or structures

If a building or structure becomes dangerous, the local authority can apply to the magistrate's court for a court order to be served on the owner to remove the danger within the specified period. This can mean just repair or removal of the dangerous parts, or complete demolition.

If the owner fails to respond within the time period, we may carry out the work ourselves and recover the cost from the owner. The owner is also guilty of an offence for not complying with the order, and could be fined by the court.

In an emergency, we have the power to carry out whatever work is immediately necessary to remove the danger, but we must try to contact the owner first. Costs can also be recovered in such cases, but we must be sure that emergency measures were absolutely necessary and that it could not wait.

To report any dangerous structure telephone 01784 446359 between 8am - 5pm or, outside office hours, 01784 446446. We endeavour to attend the site within two hours of notification of the alleged danger.

Q22: What other type approvals exist?

A similar type approval system is operated by the local authorities for non-residential buildings and for building systems

Contact the helpline for further details as to how any systems you have developed may take advantage of this facility.

Q23: What technical information will the Building Control Surveyor require?

The Building Control Surveyor may at any stage of work request further information, such as structural calculations and drawings to show that the work does not present a fire hazard or any other risk to fire safety and a materials specification may also be required.

Q24: When can the building notice procedure be used?

This procedure may be used as an alternative to full plans except where the work involves building over or near a public sewer or the building is a workplace

Therefore, any building work carried out to create or alter a shop, hotel, factory or office or other workplace can only be carried out after a "Full Plans" submission has been made.

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