What are building regulations?

Building regulations are a series of “rules” with which all new building work and certain changes of use must comply.  Building Regulation drawings illustrate how your proposed development passes the rules and what is involved in construction. The rules cover a range of technical and construction-related matters including structure, fire safety, ventilation and security. 

The primary goal of the building regulations regime is to deliver quality buildings that preserve the health and safety of people in and around them. 

How do building regulations relate to planning?

Building regulations are different to and separate from planning, although closely related. Your local council will have a building control department and a separate planning department. The planning department is responsible for issuing decisions on planning and listed building consent applications (which you can find out more about here). The building control department is responsible for issuing decisions on building regulations applications. 

The need for planning consent and/or building regulations approval will depend on the details and circumstances of your new building work or change of use. You can find out more about what sorts of changes require planning permission here.

Where planning permission is required, you should normally obtain this before making any building regulations applications. You should also be aware that obtaining planning consent for your works does not guarantee the receipt of building regulations approval, and vice versa.

What building regulations service does Planning Direct offer?

Planning Direct prepare, submit and manage full plans building regulation drawings for applications for domestic development in England and Wales only. 

You can find out more about the benefits of submitting a full plans building regulation drawings application further down this page. 

Our service covers the following types of domestic development:

  • New houses of 1 or 2 storeys;
  • New flat blocks;
  • Subdivision of existing houses to multiple houses or flats;
  • Domestic extensions of 1 or 2 storeys;
  • Loft, garage and basement conversions; and
  • Domestic outbuildings including workshops and garages.

Our full plans building regulations applications are accompanied by the following key documents and information:

  • Detailed building regulations drawings (to include floorplans, services layouts, elevations and sections) with full dimensions;
  • Detailed method statements and technical specifications (e.g. what insulation is to be used in which component and how it will be fitted), including component detail drawings  (i.e. instructional drawings);
  • Structural element details (e.g. identifying the location and specifications of beams, floors, stairs and openings); and
  • Essential calculations (e.g. regarding fire resistance and thermal values). 

Our management of the application will include liaison with building control to discuss and agree any alterations to the design specification. This is to establish compliance with building regulations. We will always discuss suggested alterations with you first, obtaining your agreement before any changes are made to your plans. 

Once you’ve received approval from building control, your project manager or lead contractor will be responsible for reporting progress to building control. Once work is complete, you’ll automatically be issued a completion notice. 

Get in touch here or on 01473 407911 if you want to discuss your Building Regulation Drawing requirements.

What is “new building work” in relation to building regulations?

As far as building regulations are concerned, new building work includes all of the following:

  • Construction of a new building;
  • Extension or alteration of an existing building; and
  • New services and fittings such as hot water cylinders, cavity insulation, drainage goods, windows and fuel burning appliances.

Most repairs, like-for-like replacements and maintenance works are exempt. 

Are there any other circumstances in which building regulations apply?

In addition to new building work, building regulations apply to certain changes of use. This is because different uses can be subject to different requirements. 

Do I need to make a building regulations application?

You need to make a building regulations application if you are carrying out new building work and certain changes of use. There is only one exception: if the building work is minor (such as replacement windows) and is being carried out by someone who’s registered with a competent person scheme

The owner of the property where new building work or relevant changes of use are carried out is ultimately responsible for ensuring that compliance is had with building regulations. 

What are the different types of building regulation drawing applications?

There are three main types of building regulations application, each with their own pros and cons. 

Full Plans

Full Plans  – this is where you submit full, detailed drawings (or plans) of the building work before you commence. The plans will demonstrate compliance will all relevant building regulations. 

If the plans comply with building regulations, a notice of approval will be issued by building control. You can then carry out the work in accordance with the plans. Your local council will carry out inspections whilst the work is in progress to ensure that the plans are being followed. 

This is considered the safest type of application as, provided the plans are followed, there is no danger that you would fall foul of the regulations at any stage of the build. This removes the risk of facing costly and potentially prolonged enforcement action and/or rebuilding. 

There are some additional benefits to this approach. One benefit is that you will have a detailed specification of the work. With that you can more accurately estimate project costs (including materials and labour costs). Furthermore, if you instruct your builder to follow approved building regulations full plans and anything goes wrong, they’ll normally be responsible for putting it right.  

Building Notice

Building Notice – this is where you simply give notice to building control that you intend to commence building work. You can start work 2 days after giving notice. No plans are required. 

Your local council will carry out inspections of the building work as it progresses. If your work is found not to be compliant with building regulations either during or following construction, you will have to put it right. In some cases, this could require total demolition and recommencement. 

This is the quickest and cheapest type of application as you don’t need to prepare plans or wait for building control to assess them. However, if your work is found to breach building regulations, you will spend a considerable amount of time and money putting things right. 


Regularisation – this is where you apply for building regulations approval concerning work already completed without the necessary approval. This route mainly provides an option to people who find themselves dealing with old unauthorised building works. 

If you are looking to commence new building works, regularisation is NOT an alternative to full plans or building notice applications. You could be prosecuted and issued an unlimited fine is works are carried out in breach in your property.

Get approval, then it is up to you to project manager/ lead contractor – it is their responsibility to notify building control as work progresses. Provided it’s by the book, the  completion notice will be issued automatically. 

Get in touch here if you want to discuss your Building Regulation Drawing requirements.

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