Explains what approved documents are, where you need means of escape windows, where you need safety glazing, smoke detectors, choosing a reputable contractor and how to remedy unauthorised building works.
The Approved Documents, in simple terms, set out the way(s) in which you can ensure that you comply with the performance requirements of the building regulations. You can use another way of complying but you will have to demonstrate to the local authority how you will comply with these requirements.
The list below highlights the approved documents and guidance notes for many aspects of the building control process. Please take time to view the documents, as they may give you information that can assist and save you time.
If you require clarification of any part of these documents or have any other building control enquiries, please contact us.
Planning Portal (external website)
All habitable rooms to dwellings and extensions shall have a first floor window suitable for means of escape. This also applies to all ground storey habitable rooms, which do not connect to a hallway leading directly to an outside door.
To achieve the requirement the window should have an unobstructed openable area that is at least 0.33m2 and at least 450mm high and 450mm wide (the route through the window may be at an angle rather than straight through).
The bottom of the openable area should not be below 800mm nor more than 1100mm above the floor level.
The window must also have appropriate escape catches and hinges to ensure this clear opening is achieved. Also all windows should be accessible via a ladder.
Means of escape (pdf 27kb opens in new window)
Application Forms and Fee Sheet page.
To comply with the building regulations, glazing requirements to what is called ‘Critical Locations’ (as indicated below) means there should be safety glass or guards to protect people from injury. The most likely locations for accidental impact, which could lead to cutting and piercing injuries are in doors, door side panels and low level glass in walls and partitions.
Critical locations (pdf 29kb opens in new window)
1. Break safely, if it breaks, i.e. laminated or toughened Class C safety glass complying with BS6206. Or if it is installed in a door or in a door side panel and has a pane exceeding 900mm it should be Class B of BS 6206.
2. Be robust or be in small panes, annealed glass (ordinary glass-i.e. float / wired or rolled glass) can be robust enough to prevent breakage, if the panes are small and the glass is thick enough. (See diagram 2 below). 6mm annealed glass provided it is in small panes may also comply (See diagram 3 below).
Glass dimensions (pdf 44kb opens in new window)
3. Be permanently protected. (See diagram 4 below)
Screen protection (pdf 27kb opens in new window)
Application Forms and Fee Sheet page.
In most cases the installation of smoke detectors in dwellings can significantly increase the occupant’s safety by giving early warning of a fire outbreak. Building regulations now require the installation of automatic smoke detectors to new dwellings and loft conversions.
The guidance below covers most normal sized dwellings, for larger premises with storey floor areas in excess of 200m2 or for dwellings more than 3 storeys – you must make reference to the building regulations for further guidance.
All smoke detectors must be mains powered (preferably with a secondary battery power supply) and be designed to comply with BS5446; Part 1. Where there is more than one smoke detector required (see positioning requirements below), they should be interlinked together, so that they all sound the warning should one of the detectors pick up smoke.
Smoke detectors should be provided in the circulation areas of each and every floor of the dwelling. They should be positioned between the sleeping spaces and places where a fire is likely to start e.g. living room / kitchen and yet be close enough to the bedroom doors to effectively wake sleeping occupants.
Smoke detectors should be positioned so that there is one within 7.5m of every habitable room door. If your kitchen is not separated from the stairways or circulation routes by a suitable door, then you must also install a compatible heat detector interlinked with the other smoke detector system positioned as above in the circulation routes. Smoke detectors should preferably be fitted to the ceiling in a central position and at least 300mm from any wall or light fitting. Check the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when deciding where to position them - particularly if you are going to mount them on the wall.
Wall mounted detectors should generally be fixed between 150mm and 300mm below the ceiling. Smoke detectors should not be fixed directly above heaters, ducted heat outlets, or in bathrooms, showers, cooking areas or garages, where steam, condensation or fumes could cause false alarms to occur. Also they should not be fitted in very hot or very cold rooms e.g. boiler rooms or unheated porches, where air currents may move smoke away from the detector before it activates. Always position your detectors so that they can easily be maintained, cleaned and tested - so don’t position them over stairs etc.
Smoke detector positions (pdf 46kb opens in new window)
Smoke detectors should be powered by a mains supply connected to a separate circuit on the dwelling’s distribution board (consumer unit). If there is any other equipment connected to the electric circuit, then the smoke detectors should also have an in-built battery back-up - which will operate the alarm if the power fails.
Note - If you use a battery backed-up smoke detector they can be connected to a regularly used lighting circuit as this avoids prolonged power disconnection. There is no need for special fireproof wiring. Always maintain, clean and test your smoke detectors regularly as directed by the manufacturer’s instructions.
Application Forms and Fee Sheet page.
When choosing a building contractor you should consider your choice carefully, you are advised to check them out carefully before employing them. If you engage a good reputable building contractor the potential for problems will be greatly reduced.
Where building alterations or extensions have been carried out without having applied for a building regulations approval, it is now very common for such contraventions to come to light during the house sales search process. This can cause problems for the house seller not able to supply the buyer with the appropriate approval notice and / or completion certificate.
For works undertaken after the 11th November 1985 you can apply to building control to regularise the situation and obtain a regularisation certificate.
Note: this procedure is not applicable to retrospective planning permission and you are advised to consult the planning officer for advice. We cannot, however, regularise situations prior to the above date.
An owner is under no obligation to submit an application and equally the council are under no obligation to accept an application. As in most cases the work will have been completed and some opening up work may be required, it is the owner’s responsibility to arrange for this work to be carried out to allow building control to determine building regulation compliance has been achieved.
Work not complying with the building regulations needs to be corrected by the owner. The owner must be willing to comply with all such reasonable requests for opening up and remedial work to achieve building compliance. If the owner refuses to undertake work the regularisation procedure is ended, no charges paid will be refunded and no regularisation certificate will be issued.
Once building control are satisfied that the requirements of the building regulations have been achieved we will issue a regularisation certificate.
It is advisable to contact your local building control officer to discuss the requirements of this complicated procedure prior to the submission of the application to regularise. Request a regularisation application form (you may desire the services of a local architect or surveyor to assist you at this stage).
The completed application form should then be returned to building control and must also consist of –
Once an application is deposited you or your agent will need to arrange for a site inspectionto determine what works will need to be uncovered in order for the building control surveyor to determine whether or not compliance with the Building Regulations has been achieved. Compliance needs to be with the regulations in force at the time that the work started. If the works are found to comply with the regulations a regularisation certificate will be issued i.e. works are found to be in compliance with the building regulations.