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There are a number of regulations that Technical Officers will need to know in the course of their work. This section gives an overview of the main regulations that will apply to home improvement and adaptation projects in England.
Building regulations are minimum standards for design, construction, and alterations to virtually every building. The regulations are developed by the UK government and approved by Parliament.
The Building Regulations 2010 cover the construction and extension of buildings, and these regulations are supported by Approved Documents. Approved Documents set out detailed practical guidance on compliance with the regulations.
Building regulations approval is different from planning permission and you might need both for your project. You can apply to any local authority building control department or Approved Inspector for building regulations approval. Fees do not usually apply if the works are for a disabled person.
Not all of the regulations apply to works on existing homes – however generally if you are planning to carry out ‘building work’ as defined in regulation 3 of the building regulations , then it must comply with the building regulations. This means that the regulations will probably apply if you want to:
- extend or alter an existing building; or
- provide services and/or fittings in a building such as washing and sanitary facilities, hot water cylinders, foul water and rainwater drainage, replacement windows, and fuel-burning appliances of any type.
In any case, the works themselves must not make the building less compliant than it was before – or dangerous. For example, replacement double-glazing must not make the means of escape or air supply and ventilation for combustion appliances any worse than they were before.
If in any doubt consult your local authority building control department.
Construction Design Management (CDM) Regulations
The new Construction Design Management (CDM) Regulations came into force in April 2015 aimed primarily at small to medium contractors. The changes in the regulations represent a major change affecting HIAs in that for the first time duties are placed upon domestic clients (although performed by others). There is a new role of Principal Designer in place of the CDM Coordinator as well as Principle Contractor for all projects where more than one contractor is likely to be involved.
Control of Asbestos Regulations
Since 2005, all electrical work in dwellings in England and Wales, whether carried out professionally or as DIY, must meet the requirements of Part P of the Building Regulations.
Part P is in place to keep people as safe as possible from electrical hazards in their homes and applies to any alterations or additions to electrical installations in existing properties, including full or partial rewires.
By law, the homeowner or landlord must be able to prove that all electrical installation work on their property meets the requirements of Part P, or they will be committing a criminal offence. Local Authorities have the power to make homeowners or landlords remove or alter any work that does not meet the requirements of the Building Regulations.
What electrical work is notifiable?
Electrical work in a dwelling, or associated with its surroundings, is notifiable to a local building control body where it includes:
- circuit alteration or addition in a room containing a bath or shower*
- installation of one or more new circuits
- installation of a replacement consumer unit (fuse box)
- rewire of all circuits
- partial rewire
* An alteration or addition to an existing circuit in a room containing a bath or shower is notifiable only where carried out in the space surrounding a bath or shower shown below:
All electrical work in a home in England must comply with Part P of the Building Regulations. In addition, those items described as notifiable above are required by Law to have a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate.
Water Supply Fitting Regulations
The Water Supply Fitting Regulations set out the legal requirements for plumbing systems and play a key role in protecting public health, safeguarding water supplies and promoting the efficient use of water within homes and other buildings. They are essential in setting standards for plumbing fittings and water using appliances, as well as levels of competency for installation work.
Water Regs UK has developed video giving an overview of the regulations.
And a further video on backflow and why it is an issue
Another useful source of water hygiene advice is the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors, which “provides consumers with essential basic information on a range of plumbing and heating matters including installations, repairs and maintenance.” It has useful leaflets on Understanding central heating systems in the home (Opens in a new window) and Understanding cold water systems (Opens in a new window) which features example schematic drawings.
Control of Legionella
New standards apply (Opens in a new window) if you change an existing hot-water central-heating boiler or if you decide to change to one of these boilers from another form of heating system.
Any work to install a new boiler needs Building Regulations approval because of the safety issues and the need for energy efficiency. This is generally achieved by employing an installer who is registered under an approved scheme.
- Gas Boiler – An installer should be Gas Safe Registered
- Oil fired Boiler – An installer should be registered with one of the relevant Competent Person Schemes
- Solid fuel fired boiler – An installer should be registered with one of the relevant Competent Person Schemes
They must follow the guidelines set out in Approved Document, which shows what is necessary for air supplies, hearths, flue linings and chimney labelling where the flue outlet can be positioned.
A new boiler must have a minimum efficiency of 86% for gas and 85% for oil. The replacement of a gas boiler will probably have to be a condensing boiler unless there is sufficient reason why one cannot be installed. An assessment is carried out by a registered installer on the type of boiler you will be required to have. The assessment is described in the Domestic Building Services Compliance Guide (Opens in a new window).
A condensing boiler with a SEDBUK rating of A or B should be installed unless an assessment carried out by a Gas Safe Register installer suggests that it is not viable to install one, then less efficient boilers with SEDBUK Ratings of C or D can be installed providing they have met the minimum efficiency guidelines.
The Party Wall Act
The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.
A building owner proposing to start work covered by the Act must give adjoining owners notice of their intentions in the way set down in the Act. Adjoining owners can agree or disagree with what is proposed. Where they disagree, the Act provides a mechanism for resolving disputes.
The Act is separate from obtaining planning permission or building regulations approval.
The Act also uses the expression ‘party structure’. For example, this could be a floor between flats.
The Government have published an explanatory booklet (Opens in a new window) which gives detailed guidance on the Act and how it may affect a building owner who wishes to carry out work covered by the Act or an adjoining building owner who receives notification under the Act of proposed work.
There are also letter templates that you can use to make sure you comply with the guidance.
Brick by Brick Webinars
In May 2020 Brick by Brick hosted two special webinars to explain the Party Wall Act and answer questions. Here are the recordings of those sessions.