What type of Application do you need?
Once you are in a position to proceed with your building work, there are three typical Building Control application types.
Full Plans application
First we will assess all your plans and ensure compliance with the regulations then arrange inspections once the build begins.
Building Notice application
This is useful for smaller works where all assessment takes place during the inspections.
This is used when proper approval was not gained for completed building work. In this instance, you can retrospectively apply and we will inspect the works to verify everything has been completed correctly.
Your Local Authority Building Control Service
Depending upon the scale and type of work involved you may have the option of following one of two different procedures available within this service:
- the deposit of a full plans application; or
- the giving of a building notice (except for certain types of building work – primarily in respect of fire safety issues where a building is used as a workplace or where it may affect a drain).
What are the differences between the full plans application procedure and the building notice procedure? What might influence my choice?
A full plans application
An application deposited under this procedure needs to contain plans and other information showing all construction details, preferably well in advance of when work is to start on site. Your local authority will check your plans and consult any appropriate authorities (e.g. fire and sewerage). They must complete the procedure by issuing you with a decision within five weeks or, if you agree, a maximum of two months from the date of deposit.
If your plans comply with the Building Regulations you will receive a notice stating that they have been approved. If your local authority is not satisfied you may be asked to make amendments or provide more details. Alternatively, a conditional approval may be issued. This will either specify modifications which must be made to the plans; or will specify further plans which must be deposited with your authority. Your local authority may only apply conditions if you have either requested them to do so or have consented to them doing so. A request or consent must be made in writing. If your plans are rejected the reasons will be stated in the notice. A full plans approval notice is valid for three years from the date of deposit of the plans, after which the local authority may send you a notice to declare the approval of no effect if the building work has not commenced.
Your local authority will carry out inspections of the building work once it is in progress. They will explain about the notification procedures which the regulations require you to follow at various stages of the work – e.g. in connection with foundations, damp proof courses and drains. In addition, if you request one when you first make your application, the local authority will issue you with a completion certificate provided they are content that the completed work complies with the Building Regulations.
A further point to bear in mind is that, if a disagreement arises with your local authority, the ‘full plans’ procedure enables you to ask for a ‘determination’ from (in England) the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or (in Wales) the Welsh Assembly Government about whether your plans do or do not comply with the Building Regulations.
The Building Notice procedure
This procedure does not involve the passing or rejecting of plans. It therefore avoids the preparation of detailed ‘full plans’, and is designed to enable some types of building work to get under way quickly; although it is perhaps best suited to small work. There are also specific exclusions in the regulations as to when building notices cannot be used. These are for building work which is subject to Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005; for work which will be built close to or over the top of rain water and foul drains shown on the ‘map of sewers’; and where a new building will front onto a private street. If you decide to use this procedure you need to be confident that the work will comply with the Building Regulations or you will risk having to correct any work you carry out if your local authority requests this. In this respect you do not have the protection provided by the approval of ‘full plans’.
Once you have given your ‘building notice’ and informed your local authority that you are about to start work, the work will be inspected as it progresses.You will be advised by the authority if the work does not comply with the Building Regulations. If before the start of work, or while work is in progress, your local authority requires further information such as structural design calculations or plans, you must supply the details requested. A ‘building notice’ is valid for three years from the date the notice was given to the local authority, after which it will automatically lapse if the building work has not commenced.
A local authority is not required to issue a completion certificate under the ‘building notice’ procedure; and because no ‘full plans’ are produced it is not possible to ask for a determination if your local authority says your work does not comply with the Building Regulations.
Do I have to pay for the local authority service?
Yes – a charge is payable to your local authority and will be subject to VAT. Each authority is required to set its own individual charges according to the type of work involved and to publish them in a ‘scheme’ which they will be able to make available to you on request. The basis for setting the charges is contained in The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998, which require amongst other things that local authorities fix their charges with the aim of recovering the costs of carrying out their service. The regulations also exempt from charging for certain types of building work which are solely for the benefit of disabled people. Is there any difference in cost between a Full Plans application and a Building Notice procedure?
In general there should not be. This is because the Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998 require that the ‘plan charge’ for the full plans application procedure, plus the subsequent ‘inspection charge’ made under this procedure, should equal the ‘building notice charge’ (a charge which includes the cost of inspection).
The ‘plan charge’ and ‘building notice charge’ are payable when you deposit your full plans or give your notice respectively; and the ‘inspection charge’ is payable after the first inspection has taken place. Only one inspection charge is payable no matter how many may be necessary. Your local authority will be able to tell you the exact charges by referring to their scheme of charges.
When can I start work?
If you have deposited a ‘full plans’ application you will only receive the full benefit and protection from this procedure if you wait until you have received a notice of approval before starting your work. However, if you choose to there is nothing to stop you starting work once you have deposited your plans and given your local authority a commencement notice at least two clear days (not including the day on which you give notice and any Saturday, Sunday, Bank or public holiday) before you start.
If on the other hand you have chosen to use the ‘building notice’ procedure, this procedure is specifically designed to enable you to start work once you have given the notice to your local authority followed by a commencement notice at least two clear days (not including the day on which you give notice and any Saturday, Sunday, Bank or public holiday) before you start. What can I do if a disagreement arises with my local authority and/or my full plans are rejected?
If you are content to do so, the simplest way to proceed if your plans are rejected may be to re-submit your ‘full plans’ application with the local authority’s suggested amendments so that it can give you a notice of approval. You will then have the benefit and protection of having your full plans approved. You may not have to pay any additional charge for this. Alternatively, there is nothing to stop you starting work provided you give the necessary ‘commencement notice’ and ensure that your building work complies with the Building Regulations. But you should bear in mind that if it does not comply your local authority may take enforcement action.
However, if you believe that the plans you submitted do comply with the Building Regulations and do not therefore want to amend them because you disagree with your local authority’s view, you can refer the matter (in England) to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or (in Wales) to the Welsh Assembly Government by asking for a determination as to whether or not your proposals comply with particular requirements in the regulations. You can ask for a determination before or after your local authority gives a formal decision on your plans but can only do so before the work has substantially started.
Alternatively, if you believe that a particular requirement of the Building Regulations is too onerous or inappropriate to the particular circumstances of the work, you can apply to your local authority to relax or dispense with it. If your authority refuses your application you could then appeal against this decision (in England) to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or (in Wales) to the Welsh Assembly Government within one month of the refusal.
The former DTLR in conjunction with the National Assembly for Wales published ‘A Guide to Determinations and Appeals’ which sets out details of the procedures involved.
Can I get a completion certificate when the building work is finished?
Yes – provided the completed work complies with the Building Regulations. Where full plans are submitted for work which is also subject to Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the Local Authority must, if satisfied, issue you with a completion certificate about compliance with the fire safety requirements of the Building Regulations when the work is finished. In other circumstances where full plans are submitted, you may ask to be given a completion certificate when the work is finished, but you must have made your request when you first submitted your plans. The local authority is not however required to issue a completion certificate when the building notice procedure has been used. A completion certificate is evidence (but not conclusive evidence) that the requirements specified in the certificate have been complied with.