What are the Building Regulations
The Building Regulations are made under powers provided in the Building Act 1984, and apply in England and Wales. The current edition of the regulations is 'The Building Regulations 2010' and the majority of building projects are required to comply with them. They exist to ensure the health and safety of people in and around all types of buildings (for example: domestic, commercial and industrial). They also provide for energy conservation, and access to and use of buildings.
What you need to do
The Building Regulations contain various sections dealing with definitions, procedures, and what is expected in terms of the technical performance of building work. For example, they:
- define what types of building, plumbing, and heating projects amount to 'Building Work' and make these subject to control under the Building Regulations;
- specify what types of buildings are exempt from control under the Building Regulations. See the Exempt Buildings part of our website for more details;
- set out the notification procedures to follow when starting, carrying out, and completing building work; and
- set out the 'requirements' with which the individual aspects of building design and construction must comply in the interests of the health and safety of building users, of energy conservation, and access to and use of buildings.
The 'requirements' with which building work must comply are contained in a schedule (Schedule 1) to the Building Regulations and are grouped under 15 'parts'. The 'parts' deal with individual aspects of building design and construction ranging from structural matters, fire safety, and conservation of energy - to hygiene, sound insulation, and access to and use of buildings. All the 'parts' of Schedule 1 are listed below:
- Part A - Structure
- Part B (Volume 1) - Fire safety (Dwellinghouses)
- Part B (Volume 2) - Fire safety (Buildings other than dwellinghouses)
- Part C - Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture
- Part D - Toxic substances
- Part E - Resistance to the passage of sound
- Part F - Ventilation
- Part G - Hygiene
- Part H - Drainage and waste disposal
- Part J - Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems
- Part K - Protection from falling, collision and impact
- Part L1A - Conservation of fuel and power in new dwellings
- Part L1B - Conservation of fuel and power in existing dwellings
- Part L2A - Conservation of fuel and power in new buildings other than dwellings
- Part L2B - Conservation of fuel and power in existing buildings other than dwellings
- Part M (Volume 1) - Access to and use of buildings (Dwellings)
- Part M (Volume 2) - Access to and use of buildings (Buildings other than dwellings)
- Part P - Electrical safety - Dwellings
- Part Q - Security - Dwellings
- Part R - Physical infrastructure for high-speed electronic communications networks
- Regulation 7 - Materials and workmanship
The 'requirements' within each 'part' set out the broad objectives or functions which the individual aspects of the building design and construction must set out to achieve. They are therefore often referred to as 'functional requirements' and are expressed in terms of what is 'reasonable', 'adequate', or 'appropriate'. Not all the functional requirements may apply to your building work, but all those which do apply must be complied with as part of the overall process of complying with the Building Regulations.
The Approved Documents
Practical guidance on ways to comply with the functional requirements in the Building Regulations is contained in a series of Approved Documents which are to be read alongside each of the 14 'parts' in Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations.
Each document contains:
- general guidance on the performance expected of materials and building work in order to comply with each of the requirements of the Building Regulations; and
- practical examples and solutions on how to achieve compliance for some of the more common building situations.
The guidance in the documents does not amount to a set of statutory requirements and does not have to be followed if you wish to design and construct your building work in some other way, providing you can show that it still complies with all the relevant requirements which apply. The guidance will be taken into account when Building Control is considering whether your plans of proposed work, or work in progress, comply with particular requirements. In addition, there is a legal presumption that if you have followed the guidance, then this is evidence that your work has complied with the Building Regulations. However, it is the job of Building Control to consider whether your plans and work comply with the requirements in Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations - not whether they necessarily follow the specific guidance or a specific example in an Approved Document.
Some building work will involve work to buildings which are either listed nationally or locally in some way for their historic or architectural interest, and/or are buildings located in sensitive urban or rural environments such as Conservation Areas or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Approved Documents for Parts 'B', 'E' and 'L' acknowledge that in these circumstances it is reasonable to meet these requirements with greater sensitivity and more flexibility. In addition, English Heritage have produced an Interim Guidance Note on how to balance the needs for energy conservation with those of building conservation.