Are you a self builder or planning on making improvements to a property? Follow these five steps to building regulations approval and getting that all important completion certificate.
1. Choose a building control surveyor
You can choose the building control provider that best fits your needs – most people use the not-for-profit service offered by their local council.
Known variously as building inspectors, district surveyors or building control surveyors, they are impartial building professionals with in-depth local knowledge of site conditions and issues and expertise in the building regulations, British and European standards and codes of practice that the new building must comply with.
All local authority building control teams in England and Wales work as part of the local authority building control (LABC) network.
Some operate as individual councils and some work in partnership with others. They all share the same ethos of impartiality, accountability and technical consistency.
Sometimes your builder might have a preference for a particular surveyor, but it’s your project so it pays to have a pre-application meeting with your local building control team so you can discuss the project and any particular design details which are out of the ordinary.
Contact your local team to find out what the likely charges will be.
Then all you’ll need to do is agree a price based on the various stages which need to be inspected.
2. Submit your building control application
You can apply to your local building control authority in one of two ways:
a) Full Plans application: For the majority of these applications the building control team will check and ‘approve’ the plans before work starts. You’ll need to submit all drawings, specifications and, where necessary, calculations for structure, thermal, water consumption and so on. Submitting this type of application reduces the risk of contravening the regulations and helps avoid costly delays.
b) Building Notice: The application is ‘accepted’ when the building regulations have been met on site. However there is a risk with this option as no plans are required and work carried out may need altering or upgrading to meet requirements.
So if you are unsure, the Full Plans route with an approved plan will give you the assurance that you won’t be taking a risk on site.
You then deposit your plans and calculations which are fully checked and approved prior to commencement so you have the confidence to obtain quotes, appoint contractors and order materials based on an agreed scheme with no nasty surprises.
3. Get to work
A key thing to remember is that compliance with the regulations, standards and other legislation is the responsibility of the owner of the property, so if you’re a self builder, that’s you!
Whichever type of application you submit, a building control surveyor will come out and inspect the work at various stages, giving advice and guidance to your builder and peace of mind for you.
The stages they’ll need to see will usually be agreed in advance but they will be to ensure that minimum standards have been achieved.
It’s not uncommon for you to want to deviate from the approved plans and your surveyor will be happy to discuss these changes and any implications at a site meeting.
4. The building control surveyor visit
The kind of the thing the building surveyor will look at include:
Ground and floors
Structural beams and openings
5. The completion visit!
This is the key visit.
The main purpose of this stage is to make sure the house meets the various building regulations before it’s occupied and put into use.
Once the surveyor is happy with the work they’ll issue you with a completion certificate, free of charge. This is an important document used by solicitors/personal search agents when you come to sell the property and by mortgage lenders and property insurers.
Now all you need to do is step back and admire your new/improved home!