How to Get Building Regulations Approval

This week sees our final blog on the England and Wales Building Regulations.  In previous blogs I have explained what the regulations are, why they are used and explained the different Parts and what they cover.  This week I am going to talk you through applying for Building Regulations and explore the journey with Building Control through to getting your all important Completion Certificate.

How do I get Building Regulations approval?

There are three pathways to getting Building Regulations approval.  These are;

Full Plans submission,

Building Notice submission, and


Full Plans Submission

When carrying out a new build or larger extension, a full plans submission is the most common pathway for getting Building Regulations approval.  In-depth information about the proposed works, including drawings of structural details prepared either by your designer or engineer, are submitted to Building Control for assessment.  The Local Authority (via Building Control) will then check your plans, consult with interested agencies (like water and sewerage) and give you a decision within five weeks.  You may be asked for further information, or given approval with or without conditions.  Conditions would set out modifications to your design to comply with the Regulations.  The approval gives you the assurance that, as long as the work is carried out according to the plans, your new building will comply with current regulations and get it’s completion certificate.

Building Notice Submission

A Building Notice is simply a statement of the address and description of the work, giving Building Control 48 hours (2 days) notice of your intention to start work. It is designed to enable some types of building work to get underway quickly, with inspection happening as the work progresses. Building notices are best suited to smaller and more straightforward works, such as extensions that fall within permitted development. Using it for bigger projects cam be a risk, as you have no assurance that the project meets the regulations.

Competent Person Self-Certification

Self-certification allows individuals and enterprises to self-certify that their work complies with Building Regulations as an alternative to submitting a building notice or using an approved inspector.  This is mostly used for smaller works like installing a new boiler, bathroom or electrical works, where building regulations would normally apply.  This allows small works to be carried out without getting delayed by timely and costly building control paperwork.

Regularisation of Existing Works

This is the pathway to get approval or works already started or completed.  This is a more complicated matter, but may be necessary if you are selling your house or bought a house that has had work carried out without approval.  Fees are higher for this service and the inspector may require the work to be stripped back to allow for proper scrutiny, adding extra cost to the process.

How long does a Building Regulation Approval last for?

Building regulation approval last for up to three years from the date of Full Plans Approval.  In the case of Building Notice, the notice lasts for three years from the date of submission.  In both cases, Building Control Officers must carry out checks to confirm compliance.

What do Building Control do?

The building regulations are implemented by the building control system. Building control can be performed by your Local Authority Building Control department or an approved inspector from the private sector.  A Building Control Officer, whether from a Local Authority, or private company, will scrutinise plans, liaise with other agencies and carry out site visits to ensure that your project is carried out and completed with full compliance to the Building Regulations.  Fees vary between Local Authorities and private provided.  You can use an inspector from the private sector but remember that you must jointly notify the Local Authority of the works.  

When does the Building Control Office Visit Site?

To ensure that the building is complying with the Building Regulations and your plans, the Building Control Officer will come to site to inspect at certain stages of the build.  You are required to give notice of certain key stages and cannot carry on until these works have been assessed and passed by the Officer.  Below are the key stages and the amount of notice you must give the Officer.  It is imperative that your builder informs the Building Control Officer for these inspections as you may be required to expose things that have not been inspected on your own expense.

Build Stage



2 days

Excavation of foundations

1 day

Foundations laid

1 day

Oversite preparation

1 day

Damp proof course

1 day

Drains testing

1 day

Occupation (if prior to completion)

Within 5 days of occupation


Within 5 days of occupation


A local Authority has a duty to enforce the building regulations in it’s area and will do so by informal means wherever possible.  However, if all other avenues have been exhausted, they do have powers to prosecute up to two years after completion through the Magistrates Court with unlimited fines.  They can also serve an enforcement notice requiring the owner to make good the contravening work.  If the owner does not comply, the Local Authority can carry out the works themselves at the owner’s own expense.

The Completion Certificate

A Completion Certificate is issued on completion of your project.  This valuable piece of paper confirms that the project, as inspected, complies with the Building Regulations. The certificate is vital as it will help you re-mortgage or sell your home in the future.  To issue your Completion Certificate, Building Control will attend a completion site visit and sign off any outstanding works.  For self-certified parts of the build, the Officer will want copies of certificates such as the Electrical Installation and Gas Safe and EPC certificates. The process culminates in the issue of your completion certificate.    

Posted on February 12th 2021

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