Most building work is covered by statutory regulations. There are two distinct approvals which are generally required – Planning & Building Regulations.
Planning applications relate to the approval for constructing or altering a building. Guidelines are set out in national and local Planning Policy documents.
Building Regulations applications deal with the type and methods of construction. These must comply with standards set out by central government in a series of Approved Documents.
Evidence of both planning and building regulations approval will normally be required when selling a property.
Planning matters are generally handled by local authority planning departments. If planning consent is required, a fee is payable to the local planning authority – currently (2016) an application for a householder or domestic extension is £172.00. Conversions (a change of use) and new houses are £385.00. Applications for commercial uses are based on area and will generally cost more. The government’s Planning Portal (www.planningportal.gov.uk) has details of the various fees payable. We usually contact the local planning authority beforehand as they have the final decision over the fees payable.
Listed building applications are free of charge. However often they will be ancillary to a planning application for an extension so that fee will be payable. Planning permission is also required for relevant demolition in a conservation area.
A grant of approval will generally be valid for a period of three years. Planning authorities often impose conditions on a planning applications. A small fee is usually charged by councils for the discharge of conditions. The fee is levied on an application for a discharge of one or more planning conditions rather than a discharge fee for individual planning conditions.
Minor variations to approved plans can be applied for under a non-material amendment application. Again a small fee will be payable.
The building regulations relate to the construction standards for building work set out in Approved Documents A-Q. These set out minimum standards for design, construction and alterations. Plans are submitted and work on site is checked and approved by approved building inspectors (either independent or working with a local authority).
We recommend that a formal full plans submission is made and approved before work start on site. The alternative is to simply notify a building inspector before starting on site. The first method avoids potentially costly delays caused if work has to be suspended awaiting formal approval by a building inspector. Certain works do not require approval under the regulations. It’s always prudent to check beforehand in case completed work has subsequently to be opened out or reconstructed to meet the regulations.