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Building Regulations - What are they ?

We are always being asked for advice on Building Regulations - these are typically left to the people 'in the know' - but they are too important to be left to chance. Here, with the help of the ODPM, we explain in simple form exactly what Building Regulations are, and how they affect your project.

What are 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 2000" (as amended) and the majority of building projects are required to comply with them.

Building Regulations exist to ensure the health and safety of people in and around all types of buildings (i.e. domestic, commercial and industrial). They also provide for energy conservation, and access to and use of buildings.

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
  • Set out the notification procedures to follow when starting, carrying out, and completing building work; andset 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.

Is Gaining Planning Permission Similar to Building Regulations Acceptance?

You should bear in mind that complying with the Building Regulations is a separate matter from obtaining planning permission for your work. Similarly, receiving any planning permission which your work may require is not the same as taking action to ensure that it complies with the Building Regulations. A free guide is available for householders which explains the planning system. In addition, there is extensive information available about the planning system in general and how to go about obtaining planning permission here.

What are the Building Regulations?

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 thirteen 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 thirteen parts to Section 1 of the Building Regulations are:


Relating to...




Fire safety


Site preparation and resistance to moisture


Toxic substances


Resistance to the passage of sound






Drainage and waste disposal


Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems


Protection from falling, collision and impact


Conservation of fuel and power


Access to and use of buildings


Glazing safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning


Listed Buildings

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. Click here to visit their website.

Practical Use of Building Regulations

Unless you have a reasonable working knowledge of building construction it would be advisable before any work is started to obtain appropriate professional advice which is relevant to the building work you want to carry out (e.g. from an architect, a structural engineer, a building surveyor, a heating engineer or replacement window specialist) - and to choose a registered builder, or a registered installer, to carry out the work.

Building Regulations: Free Explanatory Booklet

This booklet from the ODPM provides an introduction to the Building Regulations in England and Wales and is intended for anyone proposing to carry out building projects. It is not a statement of the law but is intended to help you to understand the system. Click here to view (PDF, 499Kb).

Contact us for further assistance Click here to submit an enquiry online, or Call +44 01291 437050