Frequently Asked Questions Page

We do hope to cover all of your questions and needs here - please do not hesitate to contact us with other queries if you have them - We are here to help you. Also displayed on this page you will find some of our helpful PDF and Text documents intended to help guide you through the construction process.
What Is the Difference Between Planning Permission and Building Control?


Planning Permission relates mainly to the correct use of land, the aesthetic appearance of the proposed building, and the effect that the development will have on the general environment and neighbouring properties. Planning also deals with listed buildings and conservation areas. If you have a planning enquiry, you will need to contact your local council and ask for their planning department.

Building Regulations, on the other hand, are concerned with the way in which the building is constructed, its structural stability, means of escape and fire precautions, weather resistance, energy conservation, sound insulation, access, and facilities for people with disabilities. Hertfordshire Building Control provide the local authority building regulation approval service for seven Hertfordshire Councils:

  • - Broxbourne
  • - East Herts
  • - North Herts
  • - Stevenage
  • - Hertsmere
  • - Three Rivers
  • - Welwyn Hatfield
When Is Building Regulation Approval Required?
  • When a new building is constructed.
  • If you build an extension or form a room in the roof space e.g. loft conversion.
  • When you carry out structural alterations to an existing building e.g. form a through lounge or remove chimney breast(s).
  • If you change the use of an existing building e.g. converted a house into flats.
  • For provision, extension or alteration of drainage facilities e.g. a new bathroom or toilet under the stairs.
  • When recovering a roof structure.
  • Electrical work
  • Window replacements
Which Type of Application Should I Use?

If you are planning on having building work done to your property it is best to check with us at an early stage whether or not you need Building Control approval – please contact us on 020 8207 7456 – we are here to help and happy to advise all of our clients.

If work is to be done to a domestic property, you can either use a Full Plans Building Regulation Application or a Building Notice Application. With both types of application, if you have drawings, written specifications and structural calculations they should be submitted.

There is a difference in the charge payable for each type of application.

Go to Applications

A Completion Certificate will be issued after a satisfactory final inspection of the completed works.

What Is a Full Plans Application and How Does It Work?

Full Plans are usually for more complex work that involve structural changes to a property and therefore agents are often employed e.g. an architect or surveyor who acts on behalf of the property owner.

An application consists of a Full Plans Application form, appropriate fee, and detailed drawings – which should contain sufficient information to allow checking for compliance with the building regulations. Additionally, structural details and structural calculations may be submitted/required to justify the stability of the proposal e.g. loft conversion, or larger projects involving steelwork.

Work is inspected as it proceeds. The builder or owner must notify Building Control at certain stages of the project i.e. commencement, foundation excavations, damp proof course etc. through to a completion inspection.

A completion certificate is issued to the owner when the work is seen to be completed in accordance with the requirements of the building regulations. It is essential that the property owner ensures they receive this certificate as they will need this as proof when they come to sell the property.

Hertfordshire Building Control work closely with property owners, builders and architects to ensure that all works receive approval with the minimum of disruption; the most important thing to remember is that it is best to contact us early. If you are planning a building project, please call us on 020 8207 7456 for free, impartial advice.

 

What Is a Building Notice Application and How Does It Work?

This is generally used for minor domestic work such as internal alterations (e.g. removal of chimney breasts, forming a through lounge) and domestic extensions.

Some exceptions, which require a Full Plans Application, are:

  • Any commercial work (i.e. Shops, offices etc)
  • Domestic extensions to be built within 3m of a public sewer.

A building notice is submitted with the appropriate charge and certain information, depending on the extent of the work. We may require additional information following receipt of the notice and will contact you with our requirement.

The work can commence within 48 hours of the council receiving the notice. Compliance with the regulations is the responsibility of the owner and their builders, in consultation with Building Control. As always, if you have any concerns or are not sure about the regulations, please contact us before you start any work on 020 8207 7456.

Work is inspected under the same regime as a Full Plans application and at the satisfactory completion of the works, a completion certificate issued.

What If Work Has Been Carried out WITHOUT Building Regulations?

In this situation a Regularisation Application is used when no application was submitted and no notice given to the council (in respect of inspections) at the time the work was carried out. The Regularisation Application is submitted with the appropriate charge. Any non-notified work can be ‘regularised’ by the owner of the building - who may not necessarily be the same owner as when the work was carried out. Please note that Building Control may require certain parts of the work to be exposed or ask for further information e.g. structural calculations, in order to determine compliance with the Regulations. Once the council is satisfied that the work complies, a Regularisation Certificate is issued.

How Far in Advance of Work Starting Should I Submit My Application?

Full Plans Application

You should submit the Full Plans Application at least two working days before works start on site. You will need to supply detailed drawings, specifications and - if appropriate - calculations, for us to check and approve. Our Charter requires us to check plans within 10 working days. An approved drawing can help with assessing the cost of your building work and ensure that all work is finished to a good quality standard.

You should ensure that our surveyor is contacted at the various stages to inspect work as it is being constructed.

 

Building Notice Application

You should submit the Building Notice at least two working days before works start on site. The nature of a Building Notice means that detailed drawings are not required to be fully approved - even though, if appropriate, structural details may be requested - and that works are not check the submitted information until work is being inspected on site. You should ensure that our surveyor is contacted at the various stages to inspect work as it is being constructed. At the first inspection, the surveyor will discuss the details of the work with you or your builder.

Can You Tell Me About Building Regulations Payments and the Fees?

Full Plans

  • First payment (plan fee) paid to Building Control when plans are deposited.
  • Second payment (site inspection fee) is invoiced to the customer after the first site inspection.
  • Fees vary according to the type of work undertaken and are subject to VAT.

 

Building Notice or Regularisation

  • Payment to be made when application is deposited.
  • Building Notice is subject to VAT, the fee for Regularisation is not subject to VAT.
How Long Do I Have to Complete the Works Once Work Has Started on Site?

Once you have received Full Plans approval you have a time limit of three years for works to start on site. If you have not started works within three years, a new application may be required to be submitted.

Building Notices automatically lapse after three years.

With both types of application, once work has commenced, you have an unlimited time limit to complete the work. However it is strongly recommended that you complete the works, to save unnecessary delays if the property is sold at a later date.

Do My Neighbours Have the Right to Object to What Is Proposed in My Building Regulation Application?

There is no requirement in the Building Regulations to consult neighbours, although it would be courteous for you to do so.

If you are undertaking work to which the provisions of the Party Wall Act 1996 will apply, you must notify neighbours in accordance with the Act.

A guidance pamphlet on the operation and requirements of the Party Wall Act is available from Building Control, or you can view information on the Planning Portal. https://www.planningportal.co.uk/

Will I Receive a Completion Certificate the Work Has Been Finished?

When your work is finished, you should contact Building Control to arrange a final inspection.

Provided the work complies with the Building Regulations a completion certificate will be issued. The completion certificate is an important document and should be kept with the house deeds etc. You will probably be required to provide the completion certificate on the sale, or a future sale of the property.

 

How Can I Get a Copy of the Completion Certificate?

We can provide copies of completion certificates.

To request a copy please contact our business support team –buildingcontrol@hertfordshirebc.co.uk

All copy documentation requests must be made in writing or by email and a cheque received or online payment made.

Administration and copying charges are as below:

  • £17.00 for a search of our records only. (payable on each separate property).
  • £17.00 for a copy of any notices or certificates requested, per copy.

Note that no Completion Certificates were issued for works completed before 1st June 1992.

Can You Recommend a Builder, Architect, Building Surveyor or Structural Engineer?

We cannot make recommendations because we have to be independent.  However, we can provide a list of companies that we know have worked in the area, but it’s entirely your responsibility to check that you are happy with their reputation and workmanship. Our recommendation is that you contact people in the area who have used the companies you are considering to check if they were happy with their work.

Some builders and architects will suggest that you use their contacts for Building Control but please remember that as a Local Authority Building Control service we give you completely impartial advise and guidance to make sure that your property is safe.

Can I Draw My Own Plans?

Yes, you can draw your own plans if you know about the current building regulations and you are a good draftsman. Otherwise it is advisable to get an Architect or Chartered Building Surveyor to draw them for you. Chartered Structural Engineers can produce calculations for you.

When Can My Builder Start Work?

Your builder can start work 24 hours after you have sent in your application. You must tell us when you want to start and ensure that we are contacted to carry out our inspections at the various stages. Your builder will be able to advise you on the correct process but if at any time you are unsure, please contact us; we are here to help.

If you have sent in a Full Plan Application and you want to start work before your plans are approved, you may do so at your own risk. You must still contact us to arrange all the necessary inspections.

How Do I Book/Arrange an Inspection?

You can arrange an inspection by:

  • Phone - By either directly contacting your surveyor or through the Customer Service Centre on 020 8207 7456.
  • Email - To book an inspection, send the request to: buildingcontrol@hertfordshirebc.co.uk

 

With all inspection requests, we require the following information:

  • The address of the property.
  • What is to be inspected.
  • Your name and contact details.
  • Whether you require a morning (am) or afternoon (pm) inspection.

 

If you call before 10am we will arrange a same day inspection, otherwise your inspection will be the following day. You can specify a preference for am or pm and we will try to accommodate this.

How Much Notice Must I Give to Arrange an Inspection?

If you request an inspection by phone before 10am, we will try to attend the same day.

If you request an inspection via email, then we must have received the request by 8am on the day the inspection is required.

If you have a specific need, please specify this when booking the inspection and we will do our best to meet your requirements.

How Do I Report a Dangerous Structure?

To report a dangerous structure, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

What Works DO Require Building Regulations?

It is always important to remember that if you are at all unsure about whether or not your project needs Building Control approval then it is best to contact us early – we are here to help.

The regulations apply to any “building work” and therefore you need to make an application before proceeding. In general terms, the definition of building works covers:

  • Erection of a building/new dwelling
  • Extension/alterations to domestic buildings
  • Loft conversions
  • Garage conversions
  • Installation and fitting of new waste appliances
  • Installation and fitting of new drainage
  • Installation and fitting of heating appliances (See *note below)
  • Installation of electrical works etc. (See *note below)
  • Installation of new/replacement doors and windows (See *note below)
  • Replacing/repairing more than 25% of roof covering
  • Alterations to the structure of a building, (which can include chimney breast removal. Please contact BC for further advice before undertaking this work) or
  • Work affecting means of escape in case of fire (including in some instances replacement windows in residential buildings) or
  • Changing the use of a building

 

Building work does not cover repair items, but certain operations, which you may consider a repair, are not considered exempt under the regulations and therefore will require an application. e.g. underpinning, replacing a defective roof covering with a heavier or lighter tile, or slate.

*NOTE: Some of the above works do not require a building regulation application ONLY IF the works are being carried out or installed by member of a Competent Persons Scheme. See below "What works DON'T require Building Regulations.”

Competent Persons Schemes:
Notifications to building control are not necessary if the person carrying out the work is a member of one of the government approved competent persons schemes for electrical wiring and registers the work with that scheme provider. Very few contractors are authorised to undertake the certification of another electrician’s work.

What Works DO NOT Require Building Regulations?

Some "building work" is classed as "exempt" under the Building Regulations, these include certain ground floor attached and detached buildings.

Also, some installation work doesn’t require a Building Regulation Application, however THIS ONLY APPLIES when the installer of the works is registered with the related Self Certification Scheme, for example:

  • Electrical works/installations - NICEIC / NAPIT / ELECSA / BSI / BESCA / OFTEC / Certsure
  • Gas installations - GAS SAFE
  • Gas, Wood and Oil Burning Stoves - HETAS / OFTEC / BESCA / APHC / Benchmark / Certsure / NAPIT
  • Heating and Hot Water Systems - APHC / BESCA / HETAS / Benchmark / Certsure  / NAPIT
  • Replacement Window and Doors - FENSA / CERTASS / BM TRADA / BSI / NETWORK VEKA
  • Replacement of Roof covering / Repairing of more than 25% of roof covering - NFRC - Competent Roofer 

Exempt attached buildings:
An extension at ground floor level with a floor area not exceeding 30sq. metres being:

  • A covered yard or covered way;
  • A carport open on at least two sides;
  • A conservatory where the walls and roof are substantially transparent (i.e.glazed) and where separation is maintained between it and the rest of the living accommodation
  • A porchprovided that it does not contain a WC and separation is maintained between it and the rest of the living accommodation
  • A verandah or loggia

Exempt detached buildings:
Garages, Sheds and Outbuildings, provided they are single storey and:

  • the building does not contain sleeping accommodation;
  • the building has a floor area not exceeding 30sq. metres
  • no part of the building is less than 1 metre from any boundary OR the building is constructed substantially of non-combustible material
  • or the building has a floor area not exceeding 15sq. metres and contains no sleeping accommodation

Greenhouses:
Provided that it is not used for retailing or exhibiting

Agricultural Buildings:
Including those used for horticultural, fruit growing, the growing of plants for seed and fish farming, but not those used for packing or exhibition, provided that:

  • no part of the building is used as a dwelling
  • no part of the building is less than one and a half times its height from any part of a building which contains sleeping accommodation
  • the building is provided with a fire exit not more than 30 metres from any point within the building

Temporary Buildings:
If it is intended to remain where erected for less than 28 days

Should you have any doubts, or even to double check your own conclusions, please contact us to check, it may save you considerable problems in the future. Also note that some of the exempt works mentioned above may require planning permission

Do I Need Approval for a Loft Conversion?

Building Regulations permission is required for conversions that create any type of room in the roof space even where this is only for storage use.  An application is not required where a small proportion of the space is boarded for light storage, or access to water tanks, as long as this is only served by a portable or retractable loft ladder. There are many things to take into account when planning a loft conversion:

  • Structural Considerations
  • Fire Safety
  • Stairs
  • Sound Insulation
  • Electrical Installation
  • The Party Wall Act
  • Planning Permission

Please contact Hertfordshire Building Control for further information.

Do I Need Approval to Erect a Conservatory or a Greenhouse?

Conservatory
A conservatory is exempt from Building Regulations providing:

  • It is separated from the main dwelling via an external door, i.e. patio or French door.
  • It is less than 30m² internal floor area.
  • More than ¾ of the roof area and more than ½ of wall area made of translucent material.
  • Safety glazing has been installed in the critical locations as detailed in Part K of the Building Regulations, i.e. below 1500mm at and around door openings and below 800mm from ground level elsewhere.
  • It is not heated, or is heated on a separate system from the main dwelling house.

 

Greenhouses
A greenhouse is exempt from the Building Regulations providing:

  • It is not used for retailing, packing or exhibiting purposes.
  • You should ensure that all criteria are met and you are advised to consult Building Control to confirm exemption.

Please note: Planning permission may still be required please see our useful links section for details of planning departments in your area.

Do I need Approval for a Small Detached Garage or Car Port?

 

Generally, you do not need to submit an application under the Building Regulations for these works, provided they fall within the limits set out below:

A detached garage is exempt from Building Regulations providing:
It is less than 30m² internal floor area.
The external wall of the building is not within 1 metre of the boundary or;
If it is within 1 metre it is constructed of substantially non-combustible material e.g. brick walls and tiled roof.

Car Ports, Covered Yards and Covered Ways are exempt from Building Regulations providing:
They are less than 30m² internal floor area.
It is open on at least two sides.

You should ensure that all criteria are met and we advise you to contact Building Control if you need to confirm exemption.

Please note: Planning permission may still be required and you should consult the Council's Planning Department if in any doubt – please see our useful links page for details of your local planning offices.

Do I need Approval to Install or Replace Electrical Wiring?

All domestic wiring needs to be carried out in accordance with Part P of the Building Regulations but only certain categories of work needs to be notified to the Local Authority i.e. the owner needs to make an application.

Notifiable work consists of:
• The installation of a new circuit.
• The replacement of a consumer unit.
• The addition to or modification of any circuit in a shower room*, bathroom* or room containing a swimming pool or sauna heater

* wiring in some zones that are remote from baths and showers may not be notifiable. Contact us if you need further details.

Competent Persons Schemes
Notifications to building control are not necessary if the person carrying out the work is a member of one of the government approved competent persons schemes for electrical wiring and registers the work with that scheme provider. Very few contractors are authorised to undertake the certification of another electricians work. Contact us if you need any further information on notifiable electrical works and Part P of the Building Regulations.

Do I Need Approval If I Want to Take down a Chimney Breast or Remove a Wall (e.g. to Make a Through Lounge)?

Yes. If you want to take down a chimneybreast or remove a wall, you should send us an application along with the appropriate fee charge. You do not normally need planning permission for this type of work unless you live in a conservation area or a listed building. You may also need to get your neighbour's agreement under the Party Wall Act. If you live in a flat, in addition to getting the written agreement of neighbours, including other flat owners, you will also normally need to obtain the landlord's written permission.

Do I Need to Inform You If I Am Changing My Windows?

From 1 April 2002, replacement glazing came within the scope of Building Regulations for commercial and domestic buildings. Even if only one window is replaced it needs to be to the new standards. This does not include replacement of an existing broken pane where it is replaced by a similar pane of glass, nor does it include secondary glazing to an existing window. For vertical sash windows, replacement of one rot damaged sash is considered as a repair, and not within the scope of building regulations. However, if both sashes are removed and replaced with a new window system within the existing frame, this would be building work to which building regulations would apply.

Some installers are trained and registered under the Glass and Glazing Federations FENSA scheme. (Another scheme is CERTASS) These are able to self-certify replacement glazing, and give householders a compliance certificate. If they are not registered to the FENSA or CERTASS scheme, you will be required to make a Building Notice application for replacement Windows & Doors.

Once received, we will inspect the work, and on satisfactory completion, we will issue a completion certificate. It is important that you keep the completion or compliance certificates, as they will be needed when you come to sell your property.

Do I Need to Consult My Neighbours About My Proposed Building Work?

There are no requirements in the Building Regulations to consult your neighbours, but it would be sensible to do so. In any event, you should be careful that your proposed building work does not interfere with their property as this could lead to bad feeling and possible civil action for the modification or removal of the work.

For example, your work may comply with the Building Regulations but could result in the obstructions or malfunctioning of your neighbours flue. You should check your boundary lines and satisfy yourself that there are no deeds or covenants, which may prevent you carrying out certain types of building work close to or directly adjoining your neighbours property.

You should note that if your project is subject to the Party Wall Act 1996 etc. you must give notice to the adjoining owners. Consultation and objection procedures may also come into play if other legislation is involved - particularly if your proposal requires approval under the Town and Country Planning legislation.

For more information on the Party Wall Act, view the information available on the Communities and Local Government website at: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/ 
or https://www.gov.uk/party-wall-etc-act-1996-guidance

The Party Wall Act - What Is It?

The Party Wall Act 1996 may apply to the work that you are carrying out. If so, this will involve giving notice of at least 28 days to your neighbour

The Act covers:

  • work carried out directly to an existing party wall.
  • new building at or astride the boundary line between properties.
  • excavation within three or six metres of the neighbouring building depending on the depth of the hole or foundations.
  • Working on the boundary

If you are intending to build up to the boundary of your property with an extension there are some very important issues to be aware of:

Do you know where the boundary is?

  • Check your deeds and speak to your neighbours and get agreement as to where the boundary is before you plan your extension. (The Council does not keep records that show precise ownership boundaries).
  • Check with next-door if they know if belowground the foundations of any wall or structure close to the boundary encroach on your property. This may mean a gap will need to be kept or a special foundation designed. If you are unsure then excavate a trial hole down to the level of the foundations, note the details and pass this information to your surveyor or architect. Be careful not to damage any foundation or underground equipment if you do this.
  • Check if there are any services that are under where the extension is to go. Again, this may impose restrictions or require a special foundation design; particularly if there is a public sewer to be built over. Details of public sewers and the specifications of work required by the sewer owners, are available from either Thames Water or Anglian Water, depending on your location.

The work proposed, either an extension or work to a party wall may require notification to the adjoining owner under The Party Wall Act 1996.

For further information on THE PARTY WALL ACT 1996 please see the link below: https://www.gov.uk/party-wall-etc-act-1996-guidance

How Do I Complain If I Am Not Happy with the Service I Have Received from Building Control?

If you are not happy with any part of our service, or have any sort of complaint to make, please contact us on 020 8207 7456.

Do I Have to Pay a Fee If I'm Registered Disabled?

If works to your property are to be carried out specifically for a registered disabled person, it could be exempt from all fees. For this to apply:

  • The project has to be specifically designed to suit the disabled person’s needs, and is compliant with Part M of the building regulations.
  • Proof of disability will also be required. i.e. Confirmation from  G.P/ Occupational Therapist  (Note: A "Blue Badge" is NOT classed as proof in this situation)

Please contact us at Hertfordshire Building Control to discuss whether disability exemption applies.

Finally, please ensure that you have all the necessary permissions and approvals for the proposed work e.g. planning and listed building consent and that you have discharged your obligations under other legislation e.g. Party Wall Act.

If in doubt, please ask.

Guidance Notes

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