Scope of Building Regulations
The Building Regulations are minimum standards, which govern the design and construction of most new buildings and refurbishment work in this country. They protect the occupiers of buildings and members of the public against dangers to health or personal safety, contribute substantially to the conservation of energy and ensure the reasonable provision of access to buildings for disabled persons.
It is in every client's interest that designers and contractors make sure the buildings they construct comply with the statutory requirements. Most designers consider the implications of the Building Regulations in the very early stages of the design, and right through the construction period clients appreciate the significant role of Local Authority Building Control.
The requirements are expressed in broad functional terms, in order to give designers and builders maximum flexibility.
The Building Regulations are supported by various Approved Documents, which indicate how compliance with the Regulations may be achieved. Alternative methods to demonstrate compliance are available.
The Approved Documents
Approved Document A - Structural safety
This covers the structural stability of roofs, walls, floors, foundations, etc and considers the implications of loading, ground movement and disproportionate collapse.
Approved Document B - Fire safety
This document concerns issues relating to means of escape in case of fire, fire spread over walls and ceilings, fire resistance to elements of structure, external fire spread and access for the Fire Brigade.
Approved Document C - Resistance to contaminants and moisture
Advice on preparing the site, dealing with dangerous/offensive substances, subsoil drainage and resistance to weather and ground moisture resistance is given.
Approved Document D - Toxic substances
Advice about the precautions to be taken to prevent toxic fumes from certain insulation materials from entering the building.
Approved Document E - Resistance to sound
Various forms of construction are indicated for providing reasonable sound resistance to walls and floors in new dwellings or conversions. This has recently been revised and includes requirements for sound testing, and robust details for new housing.
Approved Document F – Ventilation
Adequate ventilation must be provided for people in buildings and adequate provisions must be made to prevent excessive condensation in roofs.
Approved Document G – Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency
Full guidance is given on hot and cold water supplies, water efficiency, sanitary conveniences, washing facilities, bathrooms and kitchen/food preparation areas.
Approved Document H - Drainage and waste disposal
This Approved Document covers the subject of foul and rainwater drainage systems, water treatment and cesspools, building over sewers, separate systems of drainage and solid waste (refuse) storage.
Approved Document J - Heat producing appliances
Includes the requirements for adequate air supply, discharge of combustion products, protection of buildings, provision of information, protection of liquid fuel storage and protection against pollution.
Approved Document K - Protection from falling
Methods of achieving the requirements for stairs, ladders, ramps, guarding, vehicle barriers, protection from impact with open windows/doors are provided.
Approved Document L - Conservation of fuel and power
The 2006 editions of Approved Document L1A /L1B and L2A/L2B have significantly revised the provisions for the conservation of fuel and power in buildings. Apart from increasing the standards of thermal insulation, there is now greater emphasis on the use of energy efficient heating systems, control systems, lighting systems. In addition, there have been changes to the regulations covering "building work", "material alterations" and "change of use" which require in most cases considerable improvement to the energy requirements. These changes require applications to be submitted for works where (previously) an application would not have been required or considerably extend the requirements to improve insulation levels for new, renovated or retained thermal elements.
Approved Document M - Access to and use of buildings
Guidance is given on the requirements for suitable access provisions and facilities for people with disabilities. New buildings must be fully accessible. Existing premises should not be made less accessible when altered or extended. The guidance covers aspects such as the entrance doorways, widths of corridors, provision of lifts, toilet accommodation, spectator seating, provision of handrails, location of light switches/socket outlets and provisions for the hard of hearing.
It is worth noting the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act . Owners of buildings should ensure that buildings are accessible. Facilities provided for disabled people generally make buildings easier to use for everyone.
Approved Document N – Glazing safety
As of 6 April 2013, this document is no longer in use.
Approved Document P - Electrical safety
The design and installation of electrical elements of a building.
Please note that the Regulations and Approved Documents are subject to continuous change and it is important that you are aware of the latest requirements (and Approved Documents) when submitting your application.
For advice on the requirements of the Building Regulations, please contact our technical administration team at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Building Regulations Explanatory Booklet gives you basic advice and a general introduction to the Building Regulations. The Planning Portal house diagram also provides details about Building Regulations.
Copies of the Regulations and Approved Documents are available at www.gov.uk or from HMSO and other bookshops.