Guidance

Managing building control approval applications for higher-risk buildings

Help for clients, or someone they authorise, to submit and manage a building control application to the Building Safety Regulator – for higher-risk building work or building work to an existing higher-risk building.

Applies to England

Higher-risk buildings 

A higher-risk building is a building that has at least:

  • 7 storeys or is at least 18 metres high
  • 2 residential units or is a hospital or a care home

A higher-risk building with at least 2 residential units must be registered with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) before people live there.

Read the full guidance on buildings that BSR is the building control authority for.

Roles and responsibilities 

You’re responsible for making a building control application to BSR for a higher-risk building. You can also authorise someone to make the application for you. They will need to upload a client authorisation as part of the application.

The principal designer and principal contractor must also support you in providing information. This may include helping you to manage parts of the building control application.

You cannot begin work on a higher-risk building project until your application for building control approval has been approved by BSR.

Documents you need to prepare 

You must prepare the following documents as part of your building control application. You’ll need to keep them updated throughout construction as they form part of the information you must keep.

You’ll need to upload copies of the documents as part of your application. But you must keep the originals.

Drawings and plans

Your drawings and plans should demonstrate that this work will meet building regulations. You must upload copies of all necessary drawings and plans as PDF (portable document format).

The drawings and plans form the substance of the building control application. Where relevant, the other documents you prepare should refer to the drawings and plans. Make sure that the other documents guide us to the relevant parts of the drawings and plans to show how the building will meet building regulations.

Make sure that you provide the right plans, clearly labelled and understandable. Upload a reference file for the drawings. This will help us to process your application.

Competence declaration

In the competence declaration, you must confirm:

  • your confidence that the principal designer, principal contractor, and any other designers and contractors are competent to carry out their roles
  • the steps you have taken to make sure they’re competent to carry out their roles

You must also confirm:

  • any reasons the principal designer or principal contractor’s competence is called into question
  • why you appointed them despite their competence being questioned
  • the steps taken to reduce the risks from appointing them

You must sign the declaration.

Construction control plan

The construction control plan must set out details for the work and how you are going to control the work to comply with building regulations. It must describe how your strategies, policies and procedures will make sure:

  • the building works will meet the building regulations
  • that you check the plan is effective and how you will record evidence that the building works continue to meet the building regulations
  • you capture ‘as built’ evidence to support the completion certificate application
  • those carrying out the work are competent to perform their duties
  • sanctions and past conduct of those carrying out the work is considered to decide if they are suitable for the role, or how to prevent a repeat of the behaviour
  • designers, contractors and others working on the building co-operate and share information
  • those carrying out the work have enough information and training

It must also give the name and a summary of the responsibilities of:

  • the principal contractor
  • the principal designer
  • any other organisation or sole trader who will carry out the work

The construction control plan must describe how and when you’ll review the plan.

Change control plan

A controlled change is a change to:

  • current or proposed plans of work
  • how the work is carried out
  • any stage of work, including adding or removing a stage
  • any strategies, policies or procedures described in agreed documents

The change control plan must show that you have considered:

  • the implications of changes from the plan that was approved
  • how and at what level in your organisation the impact of controlled changes will be assessed
  • how you will make sure controlled changes are recorded

It should show:

  • how and when changes are recorded
  • that the impact of changes is carefully considered and discussed with other parties
  • that you have the oversight and control you need to manage the work
  • how you will record all advice about each change and who gave the advice – even if the advice is against the change

Building regulations compliance statement

The building regulations compliance statement:

  • must show how the planned building work will meet the relevant functional requirements of the building regulations
  • should refer to specific guidance, standards, or design codes
  • should explain how your solutions meet building regulations

The statement should show your approach to meeting building regulations. It should include clear explanations of which guidance or standards support your approach and why they are appropriate.

You should make sure that the guidance or standards you use are the right ones. For example, the Approved Documents may not be suitable for use in a complex or unusual design.

Fire and emergency file

The fire and emergency file sets out the assumptions made about how to manage and maintain the building when in use. It should consider spread of fire and structural failure appropriately before building work starts. It must include:

  • any assumptions that underpin the design and how the building will be used – these must be realistic and carefully considered, with a clear rationale
  • arrangements the accountable persons will need to put in place to ensure safe evacuation
  • how the fire and rescue service can access the area, building and water-supply for firefighting
  • a fire strategy that describes how the work will comply with functional requirements A3 and B1 to B5 of Schedule 1 of the building regulations

Client authorisation

If you have authorised someone to apply on your behalf, they must upload written proof of your authorisation. This authorisation confirms that you agree to the application being made and that the information in the application is correct.

Site location plan

The site location plan must be to a scale of not less than 1:1250. It must show:

  • the building’s size, position and relationship to adjoining boundaries
  • the building’s curtilage boundaries, and the size, position and use of every other building or proposed building within the curtilage
  • the width and position of any street on or within the boundaries of the curtilage of the building

Mandatory occurrence reporting plan

This mandatory occurrence reporting plan must:

  • describe your mandatory occurrence reporting systems and processes
  • show that the principal designer and principal contractor have arrangements in place (before building work starts) for designers and subcontractors to raise safety occurrences

You must be satisfied that the principal contractor and principal designer can fulfil the reporting requirements and have a reporting system in place. But the principal contractor and principal designer are responsible for establishing, maintaining and operating those systems, not you.

Location of new drains or private sewers

If you’re constructing a new drain or private sewer, you must prepare a site plan that highlights their location.

You must upload a site location plan with a minimum 1:1250 scale. It must show the approximate location of any proposed connection to a sewer. If there will be no connection, show the proposals for the discharge of the proposed drain or private sewer.

Include the location of any:

  • septic tank and associated secondary treatment system
  • wastewater treatment system
  • cesspool

The plan must also show the approximate location of any proposed surface water discharge.

Drainage precautions

If you’re proposing to build:

  • over an existing drain or sewer
  • within 3 metres of the centre line of an existing drain or sewer

You must:

  • get permission from the sewerage undertaker
  • prepare a description of the precautions you’ll take to protect the sewers and make sure the building is safe

You’ll upload the drainage precautions as part of your building control approval application.

You can check the location of the drains and sewers on the sewerage undertaker’s sewer records.

Staged work statement

If you are making a staged application, you must include a staged work statement.

This statement should give:

  • details about the proposed building work for the first stage and subsequent stages of the project
  • an estimate of when each stage will start

Subsequent stages statement

If we have agreed that you can make a staged application, you must include a subsequent stages statement in each of your subsequent stage applications.

This statement should give:

  • details about the proposed building work for this stage and each subsequent stage of the project (after this stage)
  • an estimate of when each stage will start

Partial completion strategy

If people will occupy parts of the building while building works continue on other parts, you must prepare a partial completion strategy.

If you want to occupy a building this way, you need to think about how the people living there will be kept safe. They should be as safe as they would be if the building was complete. You need to think about how to achieve this at the design stage.

Your partial completion strategy should explain how it will be safe to occupy parts of a building before all the building works are completed.

Propose the measures, strategies and policies the building owner should adopt to manage and maintain safety in each completed part of the building while other parts are being built.

Give details of any assumptions you have made.

Give details of how:

  • each part of the building will meet building regulations
  • you have considered risks to each completed part that could be caused by the continuing building work
  • non-residential parts of the building will not affect the overall building meeting building regulations
  • all safety features (such as sprinkler systems) will work in the completed parts regardless of the remaining building work

BSR will not accept applications for partial completion for individual flats or an individual floor of flats in a building.

Staged applications

You can apply for building control approval in stages for one higher-risk building.

BSR will only accept staged applications where it is not viable to provide detailed plans for the whole building or development.

First stage application

Apply for the first stage of the application. As part of this application, you must:

  • tell us how many stages you want to apply for
  • give each stage a name
  • upload a staged work statement

If you’re proposing to occupy part of the building while continuing building work, you must also upload a partial completion strategy in the first stage of the application.

Subsequent stage applications

Contact your case officer to submit a subsequent stage application. You will need your building control approval reference.

For each stage of the application, you must:

  • tell us the name of the stage you’re applying for
  • provide detailed plans and drawings
  • provide the other documents that guide us to the relevant parts of the drawings and plans
  • provide the partial completion strategy if you have one
  • provide a subsequent stages statement

Making your building control application

When you have prepared your application, you should apply for building control approval online.

Charges

When you submit your building control approval application, you’ll need to pay a charge. Charges, hourly rates, and how and when these and other charges apply, are set out in the BSR charging scheme on the Health and Safety Executive website.

Change control and notifiable changes

After we have approved your building control approval application, you can:

  • make a change control application for major changes to the proposed work
  • tell us about notifiable changes

You’ll need both:

  • the building control approval application reference
  • access to the email address used for the original building control approval application

To change the email address associated with the application, contact your case officer.

Stopping and continuing building works

When you make a change control application for major changes, you must stop building works related to that change. You must not start the work proposed in the major change application until we’ve assessed and approved it.

Work related to a notifiable change cannot start until after you inform BSR.

You must stop the work if we tell you that you should have applied for a major change instead.

Multiple changes

You must include multiple changes in the same application if the changes are related to each other.

In a staged application, you must complete a separate application or notification for each stage the changes affect.

And you should complete separate change control submissions for changes that are not related to each other. If you include unrelated changes in a single application or notification and we refuse one of the changes, all changes will be refused.

What you need to tell us

For each change, include a brief description of the change and why you consider it to be a major or notifiable change.

You also need to tell us:

  • the reason you’re making the change (for example, change of design approach or availability of materials)
  • all the advice you sought – even if it disagrees with your proposal
  • who gave the advice, their occupation and contact details
  • which documents are affected by the change

Upload copies of the updated documents as part of the application or notification.

Upload a compliance explanation. This must explain how the building will comply with all relevant building regulations once the change has been made.

For staged building control applications submit separate applications or notifications for each stage. You must update all affected documents for each of the stages.

We’ll confirm that we have received a change notification or major change application. We’ll do this by sending an email to you and your principal designer and principal contractor.

Charges

When you submit your notification or application, you’ll need to pay a charge. Charges for the notification or change control process are set out in the BSR charging scheme.

Building completion certificates

After your contractors have completed the building work, you can apply for a completion certificate.

You must not allow residents to occupy a high-rise residential building until it has been registered. You need a completion certificate to register a high-rise residential building.

You’ll need both:

  • the building control approval application reference
  • access to the email address used for the original building control approval application

Documents you must upload

You’ll need to upload a copy of the latest version of these documents when you apply for a completion certificate:

  • drawings and plans
  • construction control plan
  • change control plan
  • mandatory occurrence reporting plan
  • building regulations compliance statement
  • fire and emergency file

If you are applying for a completion certificate for more than one stage of work, upload these documents for each of the stages.

You must also upload copies of:

  • your notice of completion with the date the work was completed  
  • your change control log – showing all changes made to the original documents, cross-reference the changes to the related notifiable change requests or major change applications  
  • your partial completion strategy, if applying for a partial completion certificate 
  • your partial occupation plan, if applying for a partial completion certificate 
  • plans showing locations of any new drains and sewers 
  • information about drainage precautions if you’ve built over, or within 3 metres of, the centreline of an existing drain, public or private sewer or disposal main 
  • compliance declarations – signed by each principal designer and principal contractor on the project confirming they have fulfilled their duties 
  • a client confirmation statement – you must sign this, confirming that to the best of your knowledge the building works meet the relevant building regulations  
  • a statement confirming that the information about the building has been handed over to the responsible person or principal accountable person, signed by you and that person

For Category B work to an existing higher-risk building, upload updated versions of the documents that were required as part of your initial building control application, and any subsequently requested by BSR.

We will compare the updated documents to the original versions, your change log, and any changes you submitted throughout the build. Your application and documents will be assessed against the relevant building regulations requirements.

Partial completion certificates

You can only apply for a partial completion certificate if you included a partial completion strategy in:

  • your original building control application
  • an application for a major change

If we have not approved your partial completion strategy, you must not allow people to occupy any part of the building while work continues.

If you included a partial completion strategy in your original building control application, you:

  • must apply for a completion certificate for each part of the building you have completed
  • must not allow people to occupy part of the building until you have a partial completion certificate for that part

Prepare a plan showing the parts of the building that people will occupy while work continues. Upload a copy of that plan as part of your application.

Charges

When you submit your application, you’ll need to pay a charge. Charges for determining completion certificate or partial completion certificate applications are set out in the BSR charging scheme.

BSR will not issue your completion certificate if there are overdue charges related to your application.

Buildings in progress

The following guides will help you understand the building control process for buildings in progress:

Keeping us informed (notices and notifications)

After we have approved your building control approval application, you can submit notices and notifications to us.

You’ll need both:

  • the building control approval application reference
  • access to the email address used for the original building control approval application

To change the email address associated with the application, contact your case officer.

Notices

You must submit these notices at different times during the building works:

  • notice of intention to start work
  • notice of commencement
  • notification of building work reaching a point specified in your inspection schedule
  • notification of inspection

For staged applications, the notices and inspection notifications relate to the stage of work. Submit separate notices and notifications to us for each stage.

When your principal contractor gives you one of these notices or notifications, submit them to us through the manage a building control approval application service online.

Notifications

You’ll need to tell us if the client, principal designer or principal contractor changes. You’ll be able to submit a notification through the manage a building control approval application service online. You’ll need to upload the compliance  declaration from each outgoing dutyholder.

If the changes affect more than one building control approval application, you’ll need to submit a notification for each application the change affects.

Contact your case officer, to tell us about changes to:

  • the contact details for the principal designer or principal contractor
  • your contact details – including if you need to change the email address you use to access the online service
Published 2 October 2023
Last updated 2 April 2024 + show all updates
  1. Change added to the 'Buildings in progress section'. Links to new guidance about the building control process for buildings in progress.

  2. Update to higher-risk buildings section - link to 'criteria for being a higher-risk building' added. Updates added to 'Staged work statement' section to include what details you should provide in your statement. Updates to 'Subsequent stages statement' section to include what details you should provide for proposed building work. Updated 'Subsequent stage applications' section - new bullet point added 'provide the partial completion strategy...'. Updates to 'Change control and notifiable changes' section new bullet added under 'what you need to tell us' and updated paragraph to include what you must do for staged building control applications. Updated guidance to 'Building completion certificates section' to include what documents you must upload. And a new paragraph added for Category B work to an existing higher-risk building. Update to 'Charges' section of the guidance to include a new paragraph about overdue charges relating to your application.

  3. First published.