What is Building Regulations Approval?

Typical types of House Extensions Wirral based Architects House work on include Victorian terraces..

At House Architects we pride ourselves in being the specialist residential architects Wirral householders can engage for all their building regulations requirements.

So, you may have found out by reading and researching the links in this article that you don’t require planning permission for the changes to your house. So what’s next then? Are you ready to build?! Well, probably not quite! For some house extensions or refurbishments planning permission may not be required, however building regulations approval is almost always necessary where you’re making major changes to your home. A common question we are asked by our clients in Wirral is “What’s the difference between planning and building regulations applications?”

In essence, the planners are assessing and approving how your extension looks; it’s size, materials, design, if it’s affecting your neighbours, if it can be seen from a highway etc. Building Inspectors, however, aren’t assessing what the building looks like, they want to check it’s safe for you and your family to inhabit.

What Happens during the Building Regulations stage?

Building Regulations drawings require more detail than is included in typical planning application drawings. These drawings may include details such as foundation type and depth, insulation thickness, flue details, fire door information, stairs and internal step details etc. where required. There are some other professionals that may need to be involved at the building regulations stage of the project too. If the design changes to your home require you to knock through any supporting walls, or if it requires a new roof design, a structural engineer will need to get involved. Sometimes at the planning stage a structural engineer is required to provide information on what type of structure is needed for your design which you should bear in mind and budget for at the planning stage in case this is needed. Generally, though, on most projects a structural engineer will provide their services at the building regulations stage. They will assess the plans and provide structural calculations and specify the size and type of beams, columns, joists, rafters, or any other structural elements required.

This information is then passed to your architect who will then submit this information, along with the building regulations drawings, to the building inspector. The building inspector can be someone in your local council, or someone outside the council called an Approved Inspector. Your architect can obtain quotes for you for Building Inspector services and Structural Engineer’s services. It’s a good idea to budget in the region of £1000 plus VAT for Structural Engineers services, and about the same for your Building Inspector. Depending on the size and scope of your project you may pay more or less than this.

Once all of the information and application has been submitted to the building inspector, everything will be checked over by them and where any changes are required your architect will be informed, In this instance your architect will check with you that you’re happy with any changes before submitting a drawing amendment where necessary.

Once you’ve submitted a building regulations application it usually takes around 3-6 weeks to get a decision back, but bear in mind, in some cases it can take longer.

During the planning and building regulations process there are some other professionals you may wish to engage. These could include a quantity surveyor, project manager, or planning consultant. Your architect can advise you on the roles and expense of engaging these professionals as required.

Most average house extensions take 1 year from design to completion, so start the design process now if you want to be in with a fighting chance of enjoying your completed extension by this time next year!

The Gov.uk website has helpful information on Building Regulations which you can have a look at here. It’s very important for you to note that if you don’t obtain building regulations approval where it’s needed you may be served an enforcement notice to correct the works, or pay a fine. Lots of builders may not inform you that building regulations or planning permission is required, which is why it’s important that you check with an architect before you commission a builder to carry out any work. Here is the government’s advice on what could happen if you fail to comply with building regulations.

Find out why we are the go-to architects Wirral homeowners choose for their house extensions.

If you’re considering extending your home and you live in or around Wirral in Merseyside, then why not book a completely free no obligation consultation with your local RIBA architect, Catherine. At the consultation you’ll receive advice from an expert about your home, and afterwards you’ll receive a free PDF booklet outlining the process of extending. You can book a consultation here.

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