This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/providing-effective-building-regulations-so-that-new-and-altered-buildings-are-safe-accessible-and-efficient. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.

Issue

Building regulations contain the rules for building work in new and altered buildings to make them safe and accessible and limit waste and environmental damage. People carrying out building work must usually arrange for their work to be checked by an independent third party to make sure that their work meets the required standards. In some cases the installer can certify themselves that their work complies.

Building practices, technology and construction techniques are constantly evolving. We need to make sure that building regulations are fair, efficient, up to date and effective.

Actions

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has enacted a package of deregulatory changes to the building regulations in 2012 to make sure they continue to be up to date and effective.

DCLG also carries out many ongoing actions to provide effective building regulations. These include:

Background

The first set of national building standards were introduced in the Building Regulations 1965. These were a set of prescriptive standards that had to be followed. The Building Act 1984 brought fundamental changes to the building regulations regime. It introduced:

  • functional performance standards, set in terms of what was adequate, reasonable or appropriate, supported by statutory guidance in the Approved Documents
  • competition into the building control sector through the addition of private sector approved inspectors

These changes were introduced to:

  • make the standards more flexible
  • support innovation
  • make the system more efficient and effective

Over time, there have been further changes to the legislation and the supporting guidance. These have sought to:

  • improve the overall quality of buildings
  • improve the effectiveness of the building regulations system
  • reduce any unnecessary burdens on those who use the system

Who we’ve consulted

The department published on 18 December 2012 a combined summary of responses (PDF 1.11MB) to the building regulations consultation package issued on 31 January 2012. The consultation contained a range of proposals to improve the building regulations regime in England.

Alongside this DCLG process, the Cabinet Office’s Red Tape Challenge has also looked at the potential to reduce the amount of regulation in this area. Following this challenge, DCLG launched a review of the building regulations framework and voluntary housing standards in October 2012. The review aimed to achieve further deregulation where this would reduce unnecessary cost and complexity in the house-building process.

On 27 March 2015 the government announced a new approach to the setting of technical housing standards in England. This was accompanied by the publication of a new set of streamlined national technical standards

Legislation

Building Regulations 2010 and Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 2010

The Building Regulations 2000 and the Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 2000, and all amendments to both, were revoked from 1 October 2010, and are no longer in effect.

The Building Regulations 2010 and the Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 2010 consolidated the Building Regulations 2000 and the Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 2000, and incorporated all of the amendments made since 2000. The regulations were also renumbered and reordered to make them easier to use and with a more logical structure.

Further amendments that should be read in conjunction with Building Regulations 2010 and the Building (Approved Inspectors etc) Regulations 2010 are:

The department has published the following circulars which help to explain the above regulations:

  • circular 01/2014 explains the amendments made by the Building &c (Amendment) Regulations 2014
  • circular 01/2013 explains the amendments made by the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2013
  • circular 02/2012 explains the amendments made by the Building Regulations etc (Amendment) Regulations 2012 and the Building (Repeal of Provisions of Local Acts) Regulations 2012
  • circular 02/2011 explains the amendments made by the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2011
  • circular 07/2010 explains the 2010 regulations

Appendix 1: determinations and appeals

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government can adjudicate in disputes between people carrying out building work subject to the building regulations and a building control body (either a local authority or a private-sector approved inspector).

Determinations

Determinations relate to questions about proposed building work’s compliance with the building regulations, where either a local authority or approved inspector is carrying out the building control service.

You can view building regulations determinations on this site.

Appeals

Appeals are made against decisions by local authorities to refuse applications to relax or dispense with one or more requirements of the regulations.

You can view building regulations appeals on this site.

Guidance

The Department for Communities and Local Government has produced guidance to determinations and appeals. It includes details of how to apply or appeal to the secretary of state.

Appendix 2: building control system

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Building control bodies check that building work has been carried out according to the building regulations. Building control bodies can either be from the local council or the private sector (called ‘approved inspectors’).

The person carrying out the work can choose where to get approval for the building work.

Local councils

Each local council in England has a building control section. The local council has a general duty to see that building work complies with the building regulations, except where it is formally under the control of an approved inspector.

Local councils coordinate their services regionally and nationally (and provide a range of national approval schemes) via an organisation called LABC.

Approved inspectors

Designation of body to carry out Secretary of State’s functions in respect of approved inspectors

Approved inspectors are companies or individuals approved under The Building Act 1984 to carry out building control work in England and in respect of certain buildings in Wales. The Secretary of State has powers to designate a body to carry out his functions of approving approved inspectors. From 31 March 2014 the Secretary of State has designated CICAIR Limited to be responsible for deciding all applications to become, and other functions for, approved inspectors. A Designation Notice to this effect was issued on 13 March 2014.

A list of currently approved inspectors can be viewed at The Construction Industry Council (CIC) website.

Approved inspectors insurance

The Secretary of State has approved an addition to the currently approved insurance schemes offered by insurers for approved inspectors carrying out building control functions in England. The department issued a Notice of Approval for the insurance scheme offered by Howden Insurance Brokers Limited on 28 February 2014.

Competent person self-certification schemes

Competent person self-certifications schemes (often called competent person schemes) were introduced in 2002. These allow registered installers (mostly small firms or sole traders) who are competent in their field to self-certify certain types of building work as compliant with the requirements of the building regulations.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is in charge of authorising competent person schemes.

To make sure that the standards are consistent, there are rules that scheme operators must follow and conditions they must meet.

DCLG is now inviting applications from organisations wishing to operate new or extended competent person schemes or air tightness testing schemes

We also ask schemes to provide us with data every 6 months about membership numbers and the number of jobs carried out.

Third-party certification schemes

Regulations were laid on 13 March 2014 introducing third-party certification as an alternative route to demonstrating compliance with Part P of the building regulations (electrical safety in dwellings). The successful applicants authorised to operate third party certification schemes for electrical installations in dwellings are:

  • BSI Assurance UK Limited Note: from May 2014 BSI no longer run a third-party certification scheme.
  • NAPIT Registration Limited
  • Stroma Certification Limited.

The regulations came into effect on the 6 April 2014.

Joining a third-party certification scheme

Choose a scheme that supports your work. Schemes have different application processes, rules and fees.

Local council building control charges

New regulations authorising local councils in England and Wales to charge to recover the costs of carrying out their main building control services (ie checking plans and notices and inspecting building work subject to building regulations) came into force on 1 April 2010 and took effect on 1 October 2010.

The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/404) replaced the Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/3129).

These new regulations put more emphasis on relating charges to the cost of carrying out the relevant building control function for individual projects. This means the user pays for the actual service they receive.

The main changes introduced by the 2010 regulations are intended to make the charging regime more flexible, accurate and fair. Local councils can:

  • charge for giving substantive ‘pre-application’ advice related to individual building projects
  • take a bigger range of factors into account when setting charges
  • set either standard charges or make individual determinations of charges
  • give refunds and make supplementary charges where justified

New accounting requirements are intended to make the charging regime more transparent and accountable.

The 2010 Building Regulations allowed local authorities to introduce a new charging scheme by 1 October 2010.

Local authorities must still publicise when they make a new (or replacement or amended) charging scheme in their areas at least 7 days before it comes into force.

Guidance for building control bodies

DCLG has issued circular 01/2010 which explains the purpose of the provisions of the 2010 regulations and how they differ from the previous 1998 regulations.

DCLG has also issued a circular letter (PDF 144KB) to building control bodies which provides further general guidance on implementation of the 2010 regulations.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has published updated guidance, local authority building control accounting guidance for England and Wales to help local authorities in determining the costs of carrying out their building control service that they should be seeking to recover when setting their charges under the 2010 regulations.

See all circulars and divisional circular letters relating to building regulations.

Appendix 3: review of building regulations

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

As part of our ongoing role of ensuring building regulations remain effective and up to date, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has set out details of the deregulatory changes to the building regulations that came into force in 2013 in England, following the 2012 building regulations consultation exercise.

In the summer of 2010, the government asked people, businesses and local authorities to submit their ideas about what needs to be done to ensure the building regulations continue to operate effectively in the future.

In particular, we were keen to look for where we could strip away regulation, as well as looking at proposals to further improve the energy efficiency and safety aspects of the building regulations.

These views helped us to develop a detailed package of proposals for changes to the building regulations. The proposals were contained in the 2012 building regulations consultation that DCLG ran between January and April 2012. The consultation had 4 sections:

The department has now published a combined summary of responses document (PDF 1.11MB) to the consultation.

Alongside this DCLG process, the Cabinet Office’s Red Tape Challenge has also looked at the potential to reduce the amount of regulation in this area. Following this challenge, DCLG launched a fundamental review of the building regulations framework and voluntary housing standards in October 2012.

Appendix 4: Approved Documents

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Department for Communities and Local Government publishes guidance called ‘Approved Documents’ on ways to meet building regulations. These contain:

  • general guidance on the performance expected of materials and building work in order to comply with the building regulations
  • practical examples and solutions on how to achieve compliance for some of the more common building situations

The Approved Documents are available on the Planning Portal:

Appendix 5: technical housing standards review

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

On 27 March 2015 the government announced a new approach to the setting of technical housing standards in England. This was accompanied by the publication of a new set of streamlined national technical standards.

It published a planning written ministerial statement which outlined the policy on the application of these technical standards for plan making and decision-taking.

Main elements of the review

The new approach introduces optional building regulations requirements for access (volumes 1 and 2) and water efficiency which provide a higher standard than the minimum national building regulations.

Powers to introduce these optional requirements are now included in the Building Act 1984 as amended by the Deregulation Act 2015. The Statutory Instrument implementing the regulations has also been laid. The changes are explained in a building regulations circular 01/2015 and circular letter.

A nationally described space standard has been introduced which will be implemented through the planning system.

The optional regulations and space standard can only be applied where there is a local plan policy based on evidenced local need and where the viability of development is not compromised.

In addition, a new security standard has now been included in the building regulations (Part Q).

The review also clarified statutory building regulation guidance on waste storage to ensure it is properly considered in new housing development.

The full costs and analysis are set out in a final impact assessment. This is supported by three reports which set out the cost impacts (PDF, 1.79MB, 116 pages), a local authority policy survey (PDF, 605KB, 42 pages) and evidence (PDF, 1MB, 69 pages).

An impact assessment for the security standard has been published separately.

The summary of responses to the technical consultation which was carried out at the end of 2014 is now available.

The full announcement documents:

Background on the housing standards review is available and this includes the full list of previous documents.

Appendix 6: housing standards review, background

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The final housing standards review outcome was published on 27 March 2015 which included a new approach to the setting of technical housing standards in England and a new set of streamlined national technical standards. A planning written ministerial statement was also published which outlined the government’s policy on the application of the technical standards for plan making and decision-taking.

The housing standards review was launched in October 2012 and terms of reference were published setting out its objectives. It was a fundamental review of the building regulations framework and voluntary housing standards which aimed to:

  • reduce bureaucracy and costs on house builders and local authorities

  • reform and simplify the framework of building regulations, guidance, local codes and standards

  • consolidate essential requirements into a national framework centered on the building regulations

  • make the house building process easier to navigate by reducing overlap and confusion between the planning and building regulations regimes

  • reduce contradictions and overlap between standards in different local authority areas and reduce compliance problems

  • allow local choice but within sensible parameters

The review approach included extensive work with around 140 stakeholders from a wide range of sectors including house builders, local authorities, energy and access groups and other whitehall departments. It included 2 public consultations on the policy proposals and technical standards.

The legislative changes needed to implement the review outcomes were made by amending the Building Act 1984 through changes to the Deregulation Act 2015.

Full list of housing standards review documents

Final housing standards review package published on 27 March 2015

Technical housing standards review consultation package published on 12 September 2014

Outcome of the housing standards review published on 13 March 2014

Prime Minister announcement on 27 January 2014

First housing standards review consultation package published on 20 August 2013

The housing standards review launched in October 2012

The Red Tape Challenge recommendations made in spring 2012

  • The Red Tape Challenge Star Chamber and Building Regulations Minister recommend launching a Government supported review of how best to rationalise the framework of building regulations and non-regulatory housing standards.

Sir John Harman sector review undertaken between 2011 and 2012