Complying with Building Control


Once you have chosen a contractor, which I trust you would do after a tendering process and consulting the client he has worked for before- who is hopefully not his uncle and before the garden gets dugs up, it is important to make sure that the buried stash of money is relocated and that the construction will meet standards set out by the Building Act. Compliance with building regulations will ensure that your home stays safe sound and warm. If it starts leaking the minute the contractor’s van turns around the corner then something has gone wrong- either he has taken the wrong turn or simply that he has not detailed the roof adequately to meet regulations.

Almost all building work, including internal re-positioning of walls will require observance of regulations, checked and endorsed by a District Surveyor (DS) from your local authority. There are two ways to appease the DS. A building notice will require you to submit a simple application along with a location plan to the council. No detailed plans will be needed. There are certain disadvantages to taking this route.  You have to make sure that the contractor fully understands your requirements in terms of finishes, type of construction, insulation etc. With no plan approval provided by the council, the DS will inspect and certify the work as it progresses. The biggest problem with this process is the potential ambiguity of the work. Since plans have not been approved beforehand by the council, the DS, during his site assessment may ask for changes to work already done to comply with regulations. For example if the roof is not satisfactorily insulated and ventilated or the new foundations have been covered  and built over- without inspection, the visiting Candyman –as he is known in the builder community, will seemingly ruthlessly and quite sensibly ask for the roof to be rebuilt or the foundations to be exposed again. This will impinge on budgets and time.

The preferred and safer route is through a Full Plans Application process. All elements of construction including insulation, ventilation, building, structure, electrical and drainage are detailed in plans drawn by an architect and submitted to the local authority along with engineering drawings and calculations. Any changes required will be explicitly asked for by the DS before the construction starts. This will ensure that the budget does not vary a great lot and that there are no major hiccups during the construction phase.

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