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Frequently asked questions

Below you'll find answers to the questions people ask us most often about applying for Building Regulations approval. If your question is not here, please use the form on the right to submit it, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

General questions

Does my building project need approval?

The Building Regulations control most types of building work. See Do I need Building Regulations approval? for further information.

There are certain types of building work that may be carried out without notifying the Building Control Service. See Building Regulations exemptions for further information.

Advice - It is always prudent to obtain written confirmation from the council that your proposals do not require approval, prior to commencing any work. Any exemptions relate solely to the Building Regulations. planning permission or listed building consent may be required, even if the work is exempt under the Building Regulations.

What happens if I have already started or completed the project without approval?

You may submit an application for Regularisation. Following your application, one of the Building Control team will inspect the project, and we may ask you to open up some work and/or carry out tests to prove compliance . After satisfying Building Control that compliance with the Regulations has been achieved, a Regularisation Certificate will be issued.

See Making a Regularisation application for further information.

Do I need plans drawn up for my project?

If you apply for a Full Plans approval you will need to provide the council with plans. If you apply for Building Notice acceptance, you do not initially need to provide any plans, other than a site location plan.

However, the Building Control surveyor may request plans, details or calculations at any stage of construction.

We recommend that you seek professional advice when contemplating construction work and plan drawing.

How can I arrange for a surveyor to inspect my project?

If you want works relating to a Building Regulations application inspected, please contact us by phone or email. If you call us by 10am, we can offer a guaranteed same-day visit; if you call later than 10am, a same-day visit may still be available.

How long does a Building Regulations approval last for?

Once your application has been approved, you have three years in which to commence the works. Once works have commenced, (and we have carried out a commencement inspection), the application will last indefinitely.

What happens if the Building Regulations are updated before I complete my project?

Only the Building Regulations which were in force at the time of your application will apply.

Can you recommend a builder or an architect?

As a local authority, we are unable to do this. However, you can access these services via the National Federation of Builders, The Federation of Master Builders and the Royal Institute of British Architects. We can also provide the names of builders and designers who have previously won our Building Control Awards.

How can I obtain a copy of the Building Regulations and Approved Documents?

You can view the Building Regulations and associated guidance (Approved Documents) at:

Questions about specific building projects

Do I need Building Regulations approval for a conservatory?

Your conservatory is exempt from the Building Regulations, if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • The internal floor area is less than 30m².
  • The roof is a transparent or transluscent material (glass or polycarbonate sheets).
  • It is built at ground level (not over an undercroft or a balcony).
  • Any glazing complies with the requirements of Part N of the Building Regulations (Glazing - Safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning).
  • The conservatory is an addition to the building, rather than an extension to it (it should be separated from the remainder of the building with external doors, windows and walls).

If you are building over a public sewer, or within 3m of one, you are required to obtain consent from Wessex Water.

Work on or near your boundary with a neighbouring property will be subject to the provisions of the Party Wall Act. This is civil legislation, and is not controlled by the council.

Even if your proposed building is exempt from the Building Regulations, you should still take all reasonable steps to ensure that it doesn't adversely affect the existing building. For example, the conservatory shouldn't block any boiler flues, or be built under an escape window from a loft conversion.

Do I need Building Regulations approval for a carport?

Your carport is exempt from Building Regulations, if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • It is built at ground floor level.
  • The internal floor area is less than 30m² .
  • The structure is open on at least two sides.
Do I need Building Regulations approval for an attached garage?

You need Building Regulations approval if the garage will be attached to the main house, because this is classed as a type of extension.

Do I need Building Regulations approval to make repairs or internal alterations to a building?

It is very likely that you will need permission to make alterations to your home or any other building. Building Regulations are very likely to apply if your project involves or affects any of the following:

  • alterations to the structure of the building (e.g. the removal or part removal of a load bearing wall, joist, beam or chimney breast)
  • escape routes or other fire precautions, either inside or outside the building
  • access or facilities for disabled people

On the assumption that the Building Regulations apply, all the work involved in the alteration must comply with all the appropriate requirements.

Whilst some minor works may not require approval, it is best to contact us to make sure. Please also be aware that if you live in a listed building, even the most minor of alterations may require listed building consent.

Do I need Building Regulations approval for replacement windows?

Your windows will need Building Regulations approval if you are completely replacing framing and glazing, but not if you are only replacing broken panes of glass or repairing sections of the frame.

If you are considering having your windows or glazed doors replaced, you need to determine whether the company you are using is registered with a Competent Persons Scheme (CPS) such as FENSA, CERTASS or BSi.

If you are considering using a contractor who is not registered under a CPS scheme, you will need to make a Building Regulations application, and we will come and inspect the work. There is a standard all inclusive fee for this type of application.

Do I need Building Regulations approval for a garage conversion?

If you are converting your garage to make the room habitable, then you will need approval, because you will have to put in thermal insulation and ventilation to the roof, which will have to comply with Part F (Ventilation) and Part L (Conservation of fuel and power) of the Building Regulations. 

Do I need Building Regulations approval for a loft conversion?

If you will be converting your loft to provide additional accommodation, then you will need Building Regulations approval, because there are a wide variety of regulations that apply to these works. We have a guide to loft conversions to assist you with applications for this type of project.

Do I need Building Regulations approval for cavity wall insulation?

The Building Regulations specifically define cavity wall insulation as 'building work' which requires approval. This is because we need to make sure the insulation material is suitable for the wall construction and, in the case of some foam insulations, we must safely assess the risk of formaldehyde gas emission. However, this type of application is normally dealt with by the insulation installer.

Do I need Building Regulations approval to install WCs, showers, washbasins or sinks?

You will need Building Regulations approval for your plumbing installation, if the fittings will involve alterations, or new connections, to a drainage stack or an underground drain. You should also check with us to find out how much information is required about the fittings you intend to use. If you employ an installer registered with a relevant Competent Persons Scheme, you will not need to involve the Building Control Section. Your installer will self certify that their work complies with Building Regulations and will notify the council about their installation.

Do I need Building Regulations approval to install or replace a hot water cylinder?

You need Building Regulations approval for both vented and unvented systems. For either type of system, your installer should leave you with a completed installation record and commissioning certificate. If you employ an installer registered with a relevant Competent Persons Scheme, you will not need to involve the Building Control Section. Your installer will self certify that their work complies with Building Regulations and will notify the council about their installation.

Do I need Building Regulations approval to install, replace or alter a fuel burning heating appliance?

Gas appliances

All gas appliance installations need Building Regulations approval, but if you employ a Gas Safe registered installer with the relevant competencies to carry out the work, you will not need to involve the Building Control Section. Your installer will self certify that their work complies with Building Regulations and will notify the council about their installation.

(Please note the Gas Safe Register is the new hallmark for gas safety in Great Britain, and replaces the CORGI gas registration scheme as the official gas safety body). 

Oil appliances

All oil appliances need Building Regulations approval, but if  you employ an installer registered with a relevant Competent Persons Scheme such as OFTEC (Oil Firing Technical Association Limited), and the installation is in a building with a maximum of three storeys, you will not need to involve the Building Control Section. Your installer will self certify that their work complies with Building Regulations and will notify the council about their installation.

Solid fuel appliances such as wood burners

All solid fuel appliances need Building Regulations approval, but if you employ an installer registered with a relevant Competent Persons Scheme such as HETAS, APHC, BESCA, Certsure, NAPIT, OFTEC or Stroma, you will not need to involve Building Control. Your installer will self certify that their work complies with Building Regulations and will notify the council about their installation.

Do I need Building Regulations approval for the underpinning of foundations?

The Building Regulations define the underpinning of foundations as 'building work' which requires approval. This is to ensure that the underpinning will stabilise the movement of the building. Building Control will pay particular attention to the effect on any sewers and drains near the work.

Do I need Building Regulations approval to build or alter a garden or boundary wall?

You won't need Building Regulations approval for your wall, but you should, of course, make sure that the work is done safely to avoid accidents. You may however require planning permission or listed building consent so please contact the Planning Section.

Do I need Building Regulations approval to install solar panels on my property?

Solar panel installations will generally require Building Regulations approval. The installation needs to comply with Regulations in all of the following ways:

  • The roof must be strong enough to support the increased load of the solar panels (Part A). In some cases, the roof may require additional strengthening.
  • Any penetrations through the roof covering will need to comply with Part C of the Building Regulations (Resistance to moisture).
  • Any alterations/additions to the heating or hot water system will need to be carried out by a competent person and certification will need to be provided.
  • All electrical work must meet the requirements of Part P (Electrical Safety), and must be designed, installed, inspected and tested by a person who is competent to do so. Prior to completion, the council should be satisfied that Part P has been complied with. This may require an appropriate BS7671 electrical installation certificate to be issued for the work by a person who is competent to do so.

If you employ an installer registered with a relevant Competent Persons Scheme (CPS), you will not need to involve the Building Control Section. Your installer will self certify that their work complies with Building Regulations and will notify the council about their installation. It is advisable for you to discuss this with your installer to see if they are a registered member of such a scheme, and that they are covered by the CPS to certify compliance with all necessary building regulations.