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?
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:
- Approved Document A – Covers the structure of a building or property and its loading, foundations, potential ground movement and any possibility of disproportionate collapse. More information can be found in our Approved Document A project here
- Approved Document B – This is the largest of the documents and focuses on fire safety and the means of escape in domestic and non-domestic properties. More information can be found in our Approved Document B project here
- Approved Document C – Covers the preparation of a building site and ensures its resistance to contaminants and moisture. Find out more in our Approved Document C project here
- Approved Document D – One of the smaller of the series in terms of size and focus, this provides guidance on toxic substances and fumes produced by Urea Formaldehyde foams used in cavity wall insulation. More details on Approved Document D can be found in our project here
- Approved Document E – This mainly looks at sound proofing in buildings and dwellings and ensuring the resistance of sound between conjoined properties and structures. More information can be found in our Approved Document E project here
- Approved Document F – Looks at the ventilation within properties and structures and ensures that a building is ventilated correctly without impacting on its energy efficiency. More can be found in our Approved Document F project
- Approved Document G – This document covers the water supply within a building, which also covers sanitary conveniences, areas where food is prepared and washing facilities. More can be read about Approved Document G in our project here
- Approved Document H – Drainage in the main focus of this document and it covers both rainwater and foul drainage. Also covered is the storage and disposal of waste. More details can be seen in our Approved Document H project
- Approved Document J – Covered within this document are the rules for the safety of heat producing appliances (heaters, stoves, cookers etc….) and combustion appliances and also the safe storage of fuels. To find out more check out our Approved Document J project here
- Approved Document K – This documents main focus in safety from falling, collision and impact and covers items such as stairs, ladders, windows, doors and loading bays. Find out more in our Approved Document K project
- Approved Document L – This document is broken into four different sections for new properties and existing properties and looks at the conservation of fuel and power in dwellings and non-dwelling buildings. More information can be seen in our Approved Document L project
- Approved Document M – Looks at the access to a building or dwelling and moving around within it. Also covers access and use of sanitary conveniences. See more in our Approved Document M project here
- Approved Document N – Covers glazing and glass and preventing injury from impact. Also looks at the safe opening and closing of windows and ventilation sources and providing safe access for cleaning. More details can be found in our Approved Document N project
- Approved Document P – One of the more popular and well known documents due to the area it covers – Electrics and electrical safety! Further information and details can be found in our Approved Document P project
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