Guidance

Application of the Building Regulations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Guidance for Building Control Bodies operating in England.

Guidance for Building Control Bodies operating in England in relation to:

  1. Temporary healthcare buildings and related facilities.
  2. General guidance for operating during the current period of social distancing.

Given the exceptional challenges from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak there may be an ongoing need to erect new or temporary accommodation to provide medical care, treatment, or for other supporting services. There may also be other types of urgent building work being carried out. It is important that this can proceed at pace without undue administrative burden.

The government thanks Building Control Bodies for the way in which they are responding to the situation, and recognises the unprecedented challenges they face. There is a balance to be drawn between enabling building work to continue where it is still safe, and ensuring that work continues to meet Building Regulations’ requirements.

This guidance refers to the Building Regulations 2010 (as amended) and the Building Act 1984, herein referred to as the Building Regulations and the Building Act respectively. This page also provides guidance on the Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 2010.

This guidance is intended to apply for the period of operation of building control during the COVID-19 outbreak while social distancing rules are in place and will be kept under review.

New or temporary healthcare buildings

Building work is being carried out at pace across the country to support the government’s fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. This building work includes the creation of healthcare buildings through temporary buildings and buildings undergoing a change of use.

We do not intend at this point to issue any type relaxations of Building Regulations’ requirements under Section 11 of the Building Act, though we will keep this under review. For example, Regulation 12 of the Building Regulations (Giving of a building notice or deposit of plans) still applies.

When determining what is reasonable provision to meet the applicable requirements of Schedule 1, Building Control Bodies should take account of the exceptional circumstances in which work may be taking place. We support Building Control Bodies taking a pragmatic approach while keeping auditable records of the decisions taken. Regulation 11 (1) of the Building Regulations allows local authorities to dispense or relax requirements in particular cases.

Where an approved inspector is the building control body, the approved inspector and the local authority should work together with the person(s) carrying out the work to ensure that building work can continue, noting that any relaxation or dispensation of the building regulations requirements should not compromise essential health and safety requirements.

Building Control Bodies should note the guidance from the National Fire Chiefs Council on the creation of field hospitals where this is relevant to the work being carried out. This guidance can be found on the National Fire Chiefs Council website.

Guidance for Building Control Bodies on operating during the COVID-19 outbreak

For all building work being carried out during the COVID-19 outbreak, Building Control Bodies should, where possible, check regularly with those carrying out work including its current status and any plans to continue work.

Building Control Bodies should continue to assess deposited plans on their merits and ensure that the statutory requirements to consult with fire and rescue authorities and sewage undertakers continue to be met.

Early engagement with both authorities is recommended during the COVID-19 outbreak including in relation to the format of relevant plans.

Building Control Bodies should continue to undertake normal, regular on-site inspection activity where this can be done safely, in line with Public Health England guidance. Building Control Bodies may wish to consider the use of alternative methods of checking compliance to supplement physical inspections, for example using digital photographs and video or other remote means of checking compliance.

Building Control Bodies should satisfy themselves within the limits of their professional skill and care that these remote inspections are used appropriately. Remote inspections should not normally be used as the sole method of assessing compliance.

Building owners may wish to occupy part of a building even if work on the rest of the building has stopped. In these cases, Building Control Bodies can issue a part final or completion certificate for that part of the building.

Regulation 17(7) of the Building Regulations (Approved Inspectors e.t.c) 2010 allows a local authority to extend initial notices any of the prescribed time periods in Regulation 17, either before or after the expiry of the period.

Local authorities should take a flexible and pragmatic approach when receiving these applications and consider resource impacts from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Where a part final or completion certificate has been issued, this should accurately record and describe the part of the building(s) or work(s) which has been issued a certificate. Building control bodies should monitor buildings which are occupied with a part final or completion certificate and should follow up at a later date to work with the building owner to obtain a final or completion certificate for the remaining work.

Building Control Bodies should ensure that they maintain a record that the person carrying out the works has passed key fire safety information to the responsible person when issuing either a full/partial final or completion certificate, in accordance with Regulation 38 of the Building Regulations 2010.

Where local authorities are aware that work has been, or is intended to be, halted, they should be ready to provide advice on ensuring that this is done such as to leave the building in a safe state.

Social distancing

The Construction Leadership Council has published an updated version 3 of its site operating procedures. This guidance is intended to introduce consistent measures on construction sites of all types and sizes in line with the government’s recommendations on social distancing and ensure employers and individuals make every effort to comply.

Remediation

The remediation of high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding remains a priority for government. Remediation work should continue where it is safe to do so in accordance with guidance to minimise the risk of spreading infection. For more information, please see the remediation guidance page.

We expect Building Control Bodies to continue supporting the progress of remediation where appropriate.

Further information

For the most up to date information for businesses operating during the COVID-19 outbreak, please see the business support pages.

Enquiries: all e-mail enquiries relating to this guidance should be sent to enquiries.br@communities.gov.uk.

Published 21 April 2020