Building Regulations in London: An Overview

Building regulations play a big part in the home extension process and it’s important that you build a scheme that complies with building regulations. Failure to do so might result in an enforcement notice being served, ordering you to remove the structure. It can also make things difficult when you come to sell your home, as the solicitors will request the building control certificate for your buyer. Likewise, if you come to re-mortgage the property, which is common after undertaking works of significant value, they will also require evidence that the scheme has been approved by your local authority and met current building regulations.  

Home extensions will require building control sign off. Home renovation works can also require building control sign off, but it depends on how substantial the scope of works is. Home renovation companies should be able to offer you with a good idea of what work will require building control approval, so it’s worth asking your architect or designer from the outset so you can properly budget and plan. 

What are building regulations? 

The Building Act 1984 makes local councils responsible for the enforcement of building regulations in their boroughs. This act also provides guidance on how specific aspects of design and construction should comply with building regulations. 

Before you begin you build, you will need to appoint an officer to oversee your project and give you a building control certificate at the end of the build. Your officer will visit site at key milestones throughout the build. You can read more about what to expect from the build process here. For a typical ground floor extension, the visits from building control will be 4-5 times. At the end, they will confirm that building regulations have been met and your scheme is compliant.

What is included within build regulations? 

Building regulations include a whole host of things. One common item that is covered by building regulations is fire safety. They will require you to have a certain amount of wired fire alarms within your home. We recently did a ground floor extension, loft conversion and full refurbishment of a property in Wandsworth and we had to install 5 fire alarms within the property. One in the kitchen, another in the front hallway (near the front door), two on the first-floor landing area and another within the loft landing area. If you have an open plan area, building control might request that you install a sprinkler or a mist system within the property. This is because open plan living means you cannot have fire doors, so you need an alternative system to act in the event of a fire. 

Stair banisters are another regulation. They have to be of a certain height and depth. Head height above a staircase is another regulation, as you need to have clear height throughout the pitch to ensure you can use them effectively. The width of your landing is another regulation, which ensures that access routes are not compromised. 

The extractor fan in your kitchen is another regulation that frequently comes up in our ground floor extension projects, as we often replace kitchens. If you your building control officers feels your extractor fan is not efficient enough, they might mandate that you install an extractor fan within your kitchen (like your bathroom fan), to help pull air out into an external area. We completed this ground floor extension in Wandsworth, which had an integrated extractor fan which sat within the kitchen island. This meant there was no need for an unsightly extractor fan to hang down from the ceiling. 

If you want to form a bedroom within a property, there has to be a way to exit into an external space. This is why it’s common to include a courtyard within a ground floor extension design within a flat. 

In some cases, your building control officer might request that structural supports are done in a particular way. For example, some building control officers might resist the use of gallow-brackets, which is a common method used to support chimney stacks. It does come down to individual interpretation of the building regulations, which can vary between local councils and individual building control officers too. 

Whatever the building regulation is, all of them are designed to keep your home safe and functional to use. Your designer and builder should be familiar with most, if not all of the building regulations. Although it’s worth noting that building regulations are updated (ie. there was a big update following Grenfell Tower), or in some cases, there are some obscure ones that pop up from time-to-time. 

How do I appoint my building control officer? 

You have two options when it comes to building control. You can appoint an officer via your local council, or you can hire an independent company. If you use your local council, the term for the officer is a building control officer. If you use an independent company, the term used for the officer is an approved inspector. Both should have the same accreditations and there is no difference in the type of sign off you will obtain at the end. Your local council is likely to be cheaper. Generally, we would expect £700-950 for a typical ground floor extension. An approved inspector would be more in the region of £1,200-1500 for a project of a similar scope. Both options have pros and cons. From our experience, local councils are generally a little slower to respond and visit site, whereas independent companies are more service driven. 

If you are thinking of undertaking a home extension, get in touch with our team today on 0207 043 2378 or email us at hello@hometales.co.uk. You can also book a consultation directly via our live booking page here


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