Frequently Asked Questions
Find the answers to your building control questions.
1. Building Control
1.1 What Is Building Control?
It’s a legal requirement for building work to meet the Building Regulations (2010) and building control services, also known as building control bodies, check that work complies with the Building Regulations and associated legislation. Work that needs to be checked by building control includes Extensions, conversions (loft, garage) internal alterations basements new buildings.
1.2 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 provides the local authority building regulation approval service for eight Hertfordshire Councils:
- Broxbourne Borough Council
- East Herts District Council
- North Hertfordshire District Council
- Stevenage Borough Council
- Hertsmere Borough Council
- Three Rivers District Council
- Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
- Dacorum Borough Council
1.3 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
1.4 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)
- Work affecting means of escape in case of fire (including in some instances replacement windows in residential buildings)
- 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 a 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.
1.5 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 porch provided that it does not contain a WC and separation is maintained between it and the rest of the living accommodation
- A veranda 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
Provided that it is not used for retailing or exhibiting
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 that contains sleeping accommodation
- the building is provided with a fire exit not more than 30 metres from any point within the building
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.
1.6 Can you tell me if my property is in your area?
To confirm that we cover your area type in your postcode here
1.7 Can You recommend a Builder, Architect, Building Surveyor or Structural Engineer?
We don’t keep a list of recommended builders, architects, surveyors or structural engineers. If in doubt, use an audited competent builder like those found through the Federation of Master Builders.
Websites such as Checkatrade, MyBuilder, and Rated People all have their own vetting process, but be wary of manipulated ratings. Check out the vetting process and look into the company separately before going ahead with them.
1.8 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.
2.1 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 neighbour’s flue. You should check your boundary lines and satisfy yourself that there are no deeds or covenants, which may prevent you from carrying out certain types of building work close to or directly adjoining your neighbour’s 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/
2.2 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/
2.3 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 intend to build-up to the boundary of your property with an extension there are some significant 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 your neighbour if they know whether 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 as 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 follow this link : https://www.gov.uk/party-wall-etc-act-1996-guidance
3.1 Can you tell me what the fees are?
Our quotes are tailored. Please phone us for your quote on 01438 879990 or complete our Request a Quote form
3.2 Can You Tell Me About Building Regulations Payments and the Fees?
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.
3.3 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 that you’re exempt from all fees.
For this to apply:
- The project has to be specifically designed to suit the disabled person’s needs and it 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.
4.1 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 01438 879990 – 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.
A Completion Certificate will be issued after a satisfactory final inspection of the completed works.
4.2 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 01438 879990 for free, impartial advice.
4.3 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 01438 879990.
Work is inspected under the same regime as a Full Plans application and at the satisfactory completion of the works, a completion certificate issued.
4.4 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. 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.
4.5 When Can My Builder Start Work?
Your builder can start work 48 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.
5.1 When do Site Inspections occur?
Site Inspections are generally carried out at the following stages, depending on the works being undertaken:
- Commencement of work and foundation excavations prior to concreting
- Damp Proof Course / Damp Proof Membrane / Floor Preparations
- Below ground drainage laid and bedded, and soakaway dug out
- Pre-plaster check – first-floor timbers, structural beams and lintels, roof timbers and thermal insulation positioned
- Structural steelwork installed
- Completion inspection when all controllable work is complete
5.2 How Do I Book/Arrange an Inspection?
You can arrange an inspection by:
- Phone – via our Operations Team on 01438 879990. Please phone before 10am to obtain a same-day site visit
- Email – To book an inspection, send the request to email@example.com
- Site Inspection App – download on Android or Apple
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.
5.3 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.
5.4 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 applications, 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.
5.5 I’ve had electrical works carried out to my property and the electrician cannot certify the works
You will need to apply for retrospective consent. Use our regularisation application form (embed link) and we will instruct The Power Service Ltd who carries out all of our electrical work.
6.1 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.
6.2 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
- £55.00 + VAT for a search of our records only (payable on each separate property)
- £26.25 + VAT 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.
7.1 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.
7.2 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.
7.3 I’ve carried out some building work without permission, how do I go about rectifying this?
You can get retrospective building control approval. If you didn’t apply for building regs approval for the work before, or perhaps building work carried out by the previous owner didn’t have the relevant completion certificates, you can apply for ‘regularisation’ – retrospective approval.
This involves us visiting the site and assessing the work to see if it’s up to standard and if not, recommend improvements to bring it up to standard so that the appropriate certificates can be issued.
You can apply for a regularisation here
7.4 How Do I Report a Dangerous Structure? (A wall along the footpath is falling down / loose tiles are falling from a roof)
To report a dangerous structure, please contact us at your earliest convenience.
7.5 Personal Searches, EIR Requests and Copy Documents – Guidance
Hertfordshire Building Control Ltd (HBC), in conjunction with our owning councils, has implemented new processes in relation to personal searches/EIR requests and copy documents.
Tascomi Portal (Personal Searches and Submitting Building Regs Applications)
Hertfordshire Building Control Ltd. (HBC) is pleased to enable personal searches through the Tascomi Portal. By using the Online Portal, you will be able to access our records remotely through your computer/device. You will need to register with us to create an account, which can be found by clicking on the ‘Apply Here‘ button on the main header bar.
Creating an Account:
- Click Online.HertfordshireBC.co.uk in the green outline box, which will direct you to a new window
(first time users will need to register by clicking on the red box at the top right-hand corner of the page, ‘Register Here’ and completing all mandatory fields)
- Upon completion, you will receive an email asking you to verify your account – which can be done by clicking on the link in the email message
- Email address and password will be required when signing back into the Portal
- In the left-hand menu click ‘Building Application’
- Still in the left-hand menu, click ‘Application lookup’
This will now direct you to the ‘Application lookup’ screen. Searches can be made by completing the fields on the screen according to your search requirements.
All building control application records relating to a specific property can be done by scrolling to the bottom of the page and entering the address details:
- Proceed to click on the blue ‘search’ button once all fields have been fulfilled. This will now reveal all entries under the specific address you have entered
To search under another property, click ‘Clear Search’ and re-enter the relevant address again. Please see the link below which will direct you to the registration window: online.hertfordshirebc.co.uk
The charges for searches are as follows:
1 – 49 searches £7.50 each
50 – 99 searches £7.25 each
100+ searches £7.00 each
Any documents that we are asked to provide will be charged at £30.62 + VAT per document and these will be issued electronically. Please ensure that you provide your email address.