The Building Regulations

What are Building Regulations?:

Building regulations ensure the health and safety of people in and around buildings by providing functional requirements for building design and construction. If you want to put up a new building, extend or alter an existing one, or provide fittings in a building such as drains or heat-producing appliances, the building regulations will probably apply. They may also apply to certain changes of use of an existing building even though construction work may not be intended.

ADepartment of Communities and Local Government’sexplanatory booklet on theDCLG website www.communities.gov.ukprovides more information on the situation in England and Wales. The Local Authority Building Control Officer or an Approved Inspector will be able to confirm whether Building Regulations apply in a specific case. Failure to comply with the building regulations is a criminal offence. Local authorities also have the power to require the removal or alteration of work that does not comply with the requirements.

Electrical safety in dwellings, Part P:

From 1 January 2005 all electrical work in dwellings will need to comply with Part P requirements and be carried out by persons who are competent to do the work.  See Letting Factsheet 37 for more details.

Sound insulation (Part E):

In January 2001 the Government published proposals for changes to Part E of the Building Regulations (Resistance to the Passage of Sound) to include:

  • a number of technical changes designed to increase the sound reduction between dwellings.
  • proposals to deal with sound transmission between noise sensitive rooms in dwellings. It was also originally proposed that post-construction testing (PCT) would be required to demonstrate compliance with Part E.  The construction industry took the view that a set of Robust Details (RDs) could be designed that would be expected to exceed the requirements and would therefore not need to be tested on site and would save on costs.
  • Following an intensive 10 month period of design, construction and on site sound insulation testing to meet the rigorous requirements set by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the first phase was completed on time and 13 RDs were submitted to ODPM for inclusion in a public consultation.
  • On 21 January 2004, it was announced that the principle of RDs had been accepted as an alternative to PCT and confirming an earlier announcement deferring the introduction of PCT for new houses and flats until 1 July 2004.

At the same time the Minister advised that any future development, maintenance and monitoring of the robust details will be carried out by an independent company set up for the purpose called Robust Details Ltd.

Condensing boiler installation assessment procedure (Part L1):

From 01 April 2005, Part L1 of the Building Regulations requires gas and oil boilers installed in new and existing dwellings to be condensing types, with a SEDBUK efficiency in band A or B, unless there are exceptional circumstances that make this impractical or too costly.

For new or replacement boilers inexistingdwellings, it will be necessary to carry out the assessment and complete the form to see if the particular case is a permitted exception, and hence whether a non-condensing boiler may be installed instead of a condensing boiler. A correctly completed form may be used as evidence that it is permissible to install a non-condensing boiler. A form is not required when a condensing boiler is fitted.

Completed forms must be made available tothe householder, and either the building control body, if you have elected to notify the work to them, or retained by the Approved Competent Person and you certify work done yourself.

Structure (Part A):

The principal change to Part A, Structure, is the removal of the limit on application of requirement A3 regarding the disproportionate collapse of buildings. This requirement will now apply to all controlled buildings, including public buildings, irrespective of size or use. The guidance on disproportionate collapse has also been revised to take account of the emerging European rules on Accidental Actions contained in the draft Eurocode EN1991-1-7.

Numerous other aspects of the Part A guidance have also been revised; the most significant being the requirement for cavity wall ties to dwellings up to 3 storeys in height to be of stainless steel regardless of location.

Other changes include:

  • Updated guidance on domestic masonry garages to reflect modern practice
  • Introduction of minimum foundation depths to counter the impact of predicted climate change
  • Improved guidance on the re-covering of roofs (including advice where this may trigger a material alteration)
  • Transfer of the tables of timber sizes for traditional housing to a new private sector publication.
  • Whilst the revised Part A guidance makes reference, where applicable, to the published CEN Product Standards, it does not formally reference any of the Eurocode Parts at present as these have yet to be published by BSI complete with their National Annexes.
  • The removal of the application limit to the A3 Requirement will mean that all public buildings, possibly accommodating many members of the public, will need to be designed for disproportionate collapse.
  • This safeguard was removed when the former A4 requirement was repealed in 1994.  The opportunity has also been taken to align the guidance on disproportionate collapse with the rules included in the draft Eurocode prEN1991-1-7 on Accidental Actions, which have been derived from a risk assessment approach.

Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture (Part C):

Guidance has been expanded to deal with the significant changes in policies and information relating to building on land affected by contaminants. In order to better reflect its scope, the new Approved Document C is titled “Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture”. This acknowledges the increased use of previously used land in all type of development and the growing importance of reliable guidance for dealing with contaminants.

The revised Approved Document to Part C deals with all aspects of dampness in buildings. The scope has been expanded to deal with decay of wood floors caused by leaks from appliances that use water. In order to bring all precautions against condensation and dampness together former requirement F2, Condensation, in roofs, is moved to Part C.

As Part C deals with the building’s weather resistance, there is more guidance on aspects of climate change such as flooding, resistance to driving rain and thermal movement.

As the extent of treatment to deal with contaminants may be an uncertain quantity at the early stages of the development process the revised guidance introduces the concept of land associated with the building rather than limiting assessment for Building Regulations to the footprint of the building.

Sources for Further Information:

For the full text of the Building Regulations and guidance on their operation see the Building Regulation’s section of theDepartment of Communities and Local Governmentwebsite atwww.communities.gov.uk

The Building Control section of your local authority will also be able to provide guidance and assistance. Access to your local authority and their website is available throughwww.direct.gov.uk

This summary is intended to assist landlords and letting agents to understand the effect of the Act. It is not an authoritative interpretation – this is a matter for the courts. For more detail, you should refer to the text of the Act itself.