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If you have never embarked on a substantial DIY or home improvement project you may not have ever come in to contact with the UK Building Regulations. If this is the case then you may be asking yourself, what are these regulations and why do they exist?

Building Regulations Approved Document B

Front cover and contents of Approved Document B, Volume 1 for Fire Safety

Well, the Building Regulations (or regs for short) are a series of documents produced by the government that outline the requirements and methods that need to be met when undertaking certain building work.

What Does This Mean?

In a nut shell, this means that things have to be done a certain way to make sure they are safe, not just for those that will be using or inhabiting the building or property right away, or using the appliance as soon as it has been installed, but also for those that will be present after you have moved on.

Within the DIY and construction industry, there are literally 000’s of potential jobs that could be undertaken and as I’m sure you could imagine, piling all the rules and regulations for these into one document would prove almost impossible to understand, let alone find the relevant information for the job you are doing.

With this in mind, all of the Building Regulations have been broken down into 14 separate Approved Documents ranging from A – P, each covering a different topic:

As you can see from the above, pretty much all areas are covered by their own set of rules that need to be followed in pretty much all circumstances.

Planning Permission and Building Regulations

Undertaking home improvement works in your home will normally mean you will first have to complete a planning application and on success, will be granted planning permission to go ahead with the work.

This is really just about providing your local authority with the details of what you plan to do to ensure that they are happy for you to go ahead. In most cases this is a pretty straightforward task, although this does depend on what your plans are of course.

In recent years, to help kick start the building industry following the recent financial crisis, the government have relaxed the planning laws slightly, allowing more development work without the need to apply for full-blown planning. If you are thinking about some building work, you can check if you need to apply for planning using this guide on the Planning Portal website.

Planning permission can be a bit of a hazy area as, although there are set rules, these may be interpreted differently between the various local authorities around the UK.

If you are not in the know, or you don’t deal with this sort of thing on a day-to-day basis, then it can be easy to confuse planning permissions and building regulations (the rules outlined in the above documents), so we need to distinguish these:

  • Planning Permission: May need to apply for this before you can start your project. You will need to check this though as it depends on the local authority your dealing with and the work you want to do
  • Building Regulations: Unlike the above, building regulations need to be satisfied in all cases. Before you start anything you will need to contact your local Building Control Office and they will appoint a building inspector to you. As you progress through your project, the building inspector will come out to inspect works at set stages to make sure that they comply with the relevant regulations

Are There Any Other Rules to be Aware of?

Apart from the above Approved Documents, there are a few things that you should also be aware of in terms of DIY and home improvement work:

  • Windows: Any windows that are installed within your property need to be installed by a Fensa registered installer
  • Gas: Any gas work that is carried out within your property needs to be carried out by a GasSafe engineer or competent person that poses all the knowledge and equipment involved in ensuring a gas appliance is installed, repaired or maintained etc…. in the correct manner
  • Electrics: Pretty much all electrical work now needs to be carried out by a Part P registered electrician. More information on this can be found in the Part P electrical project mentioned above

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